Manual stand-up wheelchair - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Skip to Content

Development of a Manual Stand-Up Wheelchair that Provides Mobility in Both Sitting and Standing Modes

Project Overview

  • Early prototype of Manual Standing Wheelchair (MSW) in sitting mode.
  • Early prototype of Manual Standing Wheelchair (MSW) transitioning from sitting to standing mode.
  • Early prototype of Manual Standing Wheelchair (MSW) in standing mode.

Project D3, R5

Objective: To design a manual standing wheelchair (MSW) that allows users to be mobile in either a seated or standing position. Our objective is to build an innovative wheelchair that meets important user needs.

In order to develop this MSW, we will build upon a preliminary prototype comprising of a standing frame based on a patented design. This prototype was developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (US Patent 7,165,778).


Currently, manual wheelchairs provide the user with mobility in a seated position; however, there are many compelling reasons for enabling wheelchair users to stand.

The functional benefits of standing include:

  • A raised and enlarged workspace.
  • Allowing easy use of kitchen counters and appliances and access to overhead cabinets or grocery store shelves.
  • Being able to stand may thus increase independence and enhance employment and leisure opportunities.

Standing also has physical benefits—reducing the risk of osteoporosis, muscle spasticity, and contractures; improving cardiovascular, digestive, and renal function; and relieving or preventing pressure sores.

Perhaps equally important are the psychological benefits: when standing, wheelchair users can interact with others eye-to-eye; they do not have to always look up at the rest of society, or have everyone literally look down on them.

Current Options

Some electric wheelchairs allow users to stand when stationary, or to move in a standing position, and powered mobile platforms enable people to move around in a standing position, but do not allow the person to sit. However, powered devices tend to be expensive, big, and heavy.

Some manual wheelchairs provide mobility in the conventional sitting posture, and when stationary, allow the user to stand in place to perform a task. However, the user must return to a sitting position in order to move the chair. There are no commercially available manual wheelchairs that provide mobility in both a sitting and a standing position: this constitutes a very apparent and important mobility gap for the more than one million manual wheelchair users.

Target Population

Any individual who uses a wheelchair for mobility, including those with a range of mobility-limiting disabilities.

Resources & Statistics


  • Standing can stimulate circulation and tone the cardiovascular system.
  • Renal function can be aided by standing, and standing has been shown to decrease the incidence of urinary tract infections.

Resources & Organizations

Americans with Disabilities: 2005 (U.S. Census report, issued in 2008)

National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)

Users First

United Spinal Association

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Wheelchair Seating and Positioning Center


Overcoming Challenges Made IMSA Student More Than Just A Scholar (Daily Herald, November 2014)

Justify It: Standing Frames & Wheelchairs (Mobility Management, June 2014)

RESNA Updates Standing Chair (Mobility Management, June 2014)

The Benefits of Standing: A Clinical View (Mobility Management, June 2014)

RESNA Position on the Application of Wheelchair Standing Devices: 2013 Current State of the Literature

Sitting All Day: Worse for You than You Might Think (NPR, April 2011)

Calorie Burner: How much better is standing up than sitting? (BBC News Magazine, 2013)

Pronk NP, Katz AS, Lowry M, Payfer JR. Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:110323.

Kaye HS, et al., "Mobility Device use in the United States. Disability Statistics Report (14) Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research," 2000.



We will update this page periodically with project news and related interviews.


Overcoming Challenges Made IMSA Student More Than Just A Scholar (Daily Herald, November 2014)

Interview with CBM Intern Emily Seyforth (August 2014, PDF File)

"In-Home Mobility & Measures" (2014 RESNA Conference Presentation)

High School Students Help Design Wireless System for Monitoring Mobility (May 2014, PDF File)

Project Staff

RIC's Todd KuikenTodd A. Kuiken, MD, PhD, Principal  Investigator. Dr. Kuiken is director of the Center for Bionic Medicine (CBM) within the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. At CBM, Dr. Kuiken leads an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, prosthetists, therapists, neuroscientists, engineers, software developers, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers. He received his BS in biomedical engineering from Duke University, and his MD and PhD degrees from Northwestern University.

Arun Jayaraman, PT PhD

Arun Jayaraman, PT, PhD, Co-Investigator (Mobility/ADL Sensing). Dr. Jayaraman is Director of the Max Nader Center for Rehabilitation Technologies and Outcomes Research within the Center for Bionic Medicine at the RIC. He received his doctorate in rehabilitation sciences from the University of Florida and completed his post-doctoral training at the RIC. The overarching goal of his research is to inform clinical practice through rigorous investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored outcomes research.

Tim ReissmanTim Reissman, PhD, Engineering Project Manager. Dr. Reissman is a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellow within the Center for Bionic Medicine and the department of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University. His interests are aimed at applying core engineering principles to advance the technology used within rehabilitation research. He earned his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.

Additional collaborators: Manuel Amaro, Jim Lipsey,
Luca Lonini, PhD, CK Mummidisetty, Jose Ochoa, Emily Seyforth.

This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, grant number H133E130020.