903b9e0162e786a57be90d532c8edf6a_largeA Crowfunding campaign has been launched to help produce a simple device that will transform everyday life for the world’s wheelchair users with a unique invention called “Grippoz”, a wheelchair push-rim cover that will enable more users to propel themselves with greater ease and comfort.

The brainchild of Paul Lawson from Alyth, Perthshire, whose partner Diana has been a wheelchair user for eight years, Paul made a prototype of his invention after seeing how pain and lack of grip frustrated Diana in completing everyday tasks. Fitting her wheelchair with Grippoz has given her a greater degree of independence.

The plan is for the invention to go into full production, with the push-rim covers made from colourful, durable silicone with antimicrobial element. The social enterprise that has been set up to market the product will sell Grippoz online, with profits being used to help other small businesses and new products in the area. The initial funding needed for the injection moulds is being raised through the established crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. The campaign will run online until 8th December and aims to raise at least £22,500.

Speaking about how Grippoz has changed her life, Diana said:

I always had to wait for Paul to come and push me along. When I first went out with my Grippoz on, I realised I didn’t have to wait for him and went off myself into the hospital for my appointment. Every few metres people were stopping me to talk about Grippoz. The colourful push-rims really make my chair stand out more. For the first time people saw me and were speaking to me in my chair and not the person pushing me. It was just wonderful.”

Grippoz are made from injected silicone which offers users additional protection from germs and infection, and their robust design helps to protect furniture from bumps and scrapes. The product is designed for adult wheelchair users and will be produced initially in black or pink to fit a 24 inch diameter wheel.

DSC00961_001Paul and Diana want the benefits of Grippoz to help others and are licensing the product to a social enterprise managed by GrowBiz, a successful community-based enterprise support organisation in Perthshire, Scotland.

There are estimated to be 67m wheelchair users globally with around 750,000 wheelchair users here in the UK. Self-propulsion is a highly repetitive task for wheelchair users, frequently resulting in musculoskeletal disorders. It is estimated that nearly 70% of manual wheelchair users will experience upper extremity pain or overuse injury at some point in their lifetime. The ability to self-propel can make a key contribution to quality of life. Having a sense of control, feeling respected as an individual and retaining dignity are all regarded as central to quality of life.

To contribute to Grippoz crowdfunding campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com

For more information visit www.grippoz.com. You can also search for Grippoz on Facebook or follow @Grippoz1 on Twitter.