Open-source Wheelchair

Tanner and Skyler Jensen suffer from a rare genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) that destroys nerves controlling voluntary muscle movement. They are two of many children that will never walk. Hand powered wheelchairs help, but the boys tire quickly and lose strength to push their wheelchairs after a few minutes. To remain independently mobile requires the use of a motorized pediatric wheelchair. However, these wheelchairs cost thousands of dollars, are extremely heavy, and do not transport easily. The purpose of our project was to create a product that addresses these concerns.

Our team created a lightweight, open-source motorized wheelchair that is parametric to fit children ages 2.5 to 6. The child controls the wheelchair through a joystick mounted on the armrest. The wheelchair frame is made from furniture-grade PVC. As a child grows the relevant PVC pieces can be exchanged for longer ones to accommodate child size. The other components are off-the-shelf or easily manufactured custom parts. A typical parent could assemble the wheelchair at a total cost of under $495. Parents can download a list of required materials and instruction manual from

The boys’ mother, Esther Jensen expressed the benefits of this wheelchair for her sons, “This chair could give them so much additional freedom outside our home. Tanner loves to play with other kids, but he has a hard time keeping up with them. The idea of him having this at the zoo, or at school is so exciting.”


School Year (term): 
Vegetronix, Inc.
Team Name: 
O.S. Wheelchair
Mark Colton
Team Members: 
Zach Zimmerman, Ian Freeman, Daniel McRae, Adam Bangerter, Justin Taylor

Brigham Young University - Provo | Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Capstone Webmaster, Department of Mechanical Engineering, BYU, Provo, UT 84602 - (801) 422-3894 Address/Directions

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Admin Login