An innovative wheelchair design by Chilean physiotherapists helps patients to move from a seated to an upright position, allowing them to see the world from a different perspective. Tara Cleary reports.
Juan Ayala was born with cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. But thanks to Chilean company Kiron, Ayala can now stand upright at the push of a button. SOUNDBITE: JUAN AYALA, WHO WAS BORN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY, SAYING (Spanish): "It's miraculous because I can easily use the toilet, open the window, wash the dishes, look people in the eye, not look up and avoid being looked down at." Kiron's deputy director Francisco Espinoza says that although the technology already exists elsewhere, their version, called Get Up, is the most efficient and inexpensive on offer. SOUNDBITE: FRANCISCO ESPINOZA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF KIRON INNOVATION, SAYING (Spanish): "We came up with the idea of manufacturing a wheelchair with a simple design to avoid the complications other standing wheelchairs have and make it cheaper so that everyone could own one." And according to Kiron's general manager, Juan Pablo Rodriguez, the wheelchair not only helps patients with physical challenges, but also provides a psychological boost. SOUNDBITE: JUAN PABLO RODRIGUEZ, GENERAL MANAGER AT KIRON, SAYING (Spanish): "The idea of this is mainly to be able to see the world from another point of view at a psychological level and it changes the perspective completely. At a physiological level, the ability to stand has powerful characteristics. As the chair does all the work and works with a simple locking mechanism for both the knee and trunk, this prevents the person from falling." The wheelchair costs 1,600 U.S. dollars and though it's only available in Santiago, the company has plans to expand to Brazil. And for Juan Ayala, Get Up's support is giving him a new way of viewing the world.