Falls Recovery Lifting Device

Designers: Jared Gardner, Matthew Mian, and Dean Wang

Client Coordinator: Sue Cheng, OTR/L

Supervising Professors: Kevin Caves, Richard Goldberg

Our client is an adult with Freidrich’s Ataxia, who has great difficulty getting back into his wheelchair whenever he falls out. The Falls Recovery Lifting Device uses a hydraulic jack that lifts a chair 22″ vertically from near floor level. When the chair is pumped to the desired height, the client can easily perform a sliding or standing transfer from the device back into his wheelchair.

The device provides the client with a safe and reliable means to return to his wheelchair after a fall. Although such events are infrequent, the recovery process previously had been both time-consuming and hazardous, since he had relied on his wife to help him. A typical recovery would take them one hour or more. Now, after a fall, the client’s wife may retrieve the device, using the attached wheels to roll it over to the location of the fall. Once the device is in position, recovery takes approximately 2-3 minutes. The client’s wife remarked, “This will work well; two or three minutes is nothing compared to the hour or more that this used to take.”


The Falls Recovery Lifting Device (Figure 1) consists of a hydraulic jack, an aluminum base, and a stand with attached seat. The jack is a three-ton long ram bottle jack, normally used in cranes and engine hoists, which travels vertically by manually pumping a one-piece handle. One hundred and twenty pumps cause the ram to travel its full length. Releasing a valve on the side of the base and pushing down on the ram manually returns the jack.

The base is constructed from 2″x2″ square aluminum tubing and 1/2″ thick solid aluminum plate. The jack is secured to the top portion of the base with a 5/8″ machine bolt. Bottom portion of the base consists of a 30″x12″ plate, bolted to two 30″ long square tubes. Two 2″ radius non-rotating wheels are attached to the ends of the tubes make the device easy to move. The device can be picked up by the legs and moved around like a wheelbarrow.

The seat from a commercial heavy plastic chair is attached to two sections of 1″ diameter steel conduit. The conduit is bent to support the seat of the chair and also bent over the back of the chair to form overhead hand grips for the client to use when sliding from the ground onto the seat, and to support himself during the lift. The seat is connected to the bottle jack via a piece of 2″ square tubing. The square tubing has a 1-inch clearance hole that fits the top of the lift piston, which allows the seat apparatus to be detached at any time.

A track, constructed from two 3/4″x3/4″aluminum square tubes and mounted behind the chair, prevents the seat from rotating during and after the lifting process. A 2″ radius non-rotating wheel is attached to the back of the chair to slide on the column of the jack while being guided by the track. The track is secured to L-brackets on the bottom and top of the jack.

Cost of parts for the device was about $615.

Comments are closed.