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Edinburgh tenants among the first to test innovative wheelchair design

Article By: Charley Walker, News Editor

Tenants at a housing development in Edinburgh will be the first to pilot a pioneering new wheelchair designed by award-winning Scottish entrepreneur Alex Papanikolaou.

Mr Papanikolaou, who was born with Athetoid cerebral palsy, has been using the latest prototype of his chair for the past year and has covered more than 2,000 kilometres to date.

Now tenants at Blackwood’s Abbey Court development, which provides housing and support for people with physical disabilities, will have the opportunity to test his unique Freedom One Life power wheelchair.

Mr Papanikolaou said: “I’ve used power chairs since I was at school, so have first-hand experience of the limitations that are imposed upon those with disabilities by chairs that are outdated and expensive.

“One major issue for many wheelchair users is travelling. Many people have horror stories about being stranded and some never go on holiday at all in case their chair breaks.

“It was this overwhelming evidence that the current chairs are not fit for purpose that pushed me to want to do it better.”

Borne out of the challenges and frustrations Mr Papanikolaou has faced throughout his life with standard power wheelchairs, his innovative new chair has a seven day lithium battery life and a 10 year life cycle.

The Freedom One Life chair is sleeker than standard power chairs

This is compared to the typical one day lead battery life and one year life cycle of most power wheelchairs.

The Freedom One Life also has a sleeker and smarter look in comparison with the more clinical style of many standard personal mobility vehicles.

Paul Richoux, social media coordinator at Blackwood, explained that the group is “always on the lookout for innovative products which would help people to live more independently.”

“The tenants are all very keen to try out the Freedom One Life power chair,” he said.

“Many of our tenants could hugely benefit from Alex’s design, so we’re delighted he has chosen to work with us and eager to see the outcome of the trials.”

Tenants at Abbey Court will take part in a focus group with Mr Papanikolaou where they will be among the first to test his innovative wheelchair design and provide him with invaluable feedback.

Mr Papanikolaou added: “I recognise Blackwood as a leader and champion for independent living and technology that adds freedom to the lives of people with disabilities, so I’m very excited to have the tenants experience my chair design and to get their essential feedback.”


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