Yamaha's Next-Generation Power-Assist Readies for U.S. Debut
At Medtrade in October, Yamaha Motor IM America — which has manufactured manual wheelchair power-assist units for years — gave attendees a sneak peek at a pair of new power systems for manual wheelchairs.
The JWX-2 power-assist unit has a new, flatter design that Yamaha says enables the unit to be fitted to just about any manual chair. Business Unit Manager Joe Klickna adds that the JWX-2 uses the chair’s original axle plate with a simple adaptor, and that axle position and center of gravity can be adjusted.
In addition, Yamaha’s JW SmarTune software gives clinicians the ability to measure the wheelchair user’s propulsion abilities and efficiency and make adjustments as needed.
For example, if the consumer has less strength in one arm than the other, the software can fine-tune the JWX-2 to compensate and balance, so the consumer moves in a straighter line with less need for course corrections.
The JWX-2 can also be set for more or less power assistance, and for higher or lower turning sensitivity.
Klickna says the JWX-2 data collected via the SmarTune software can be used by ATPs and clinicians to detect not just uneven arm strength, but also stroke frequency and distance, how long the consumer is touching the pushrims, and whether one arm shows fatigue more quickly than the other.
“You can also easily compare assisted vs. unassisted propulsion to really show how much improvement the power-assist is adding,” Klickna says.
And the JWX-2 isn’t the only new innovation from Yamaha’s Intelligent Machinery Operations division.
The manufacturer also showed off the JWX-1, an add-on power unit for manual wheelchairs. The system consists of two wheels, each containing a motor, plus a joystick, a battery and a charger. An optional attendant controller is also available.
For portability, the wheelchair retains its foldability with the JWX-1 in place, and the wheels have a quick-release design. The system weighs less than 33 lbs. without the battery, and is capable of a top speed of about 3.75 mph.
Yamaha says tens of thousands of JWX-1 units have been used in Japan. As for the JWX-2, look for an early-2014 launch in the United States.
Yamaha Motor IM America Inc.
This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Mobility Management.