Greater independence and several proven health benefits have contributed to growing global interest in stand-up wheelchairs, says C.Y. Cheung, founder of Wheelchair88.

His Malaysia-based firm produces four stand-up wheelchair models, which are sold internationally and are becoming increasingly popular.

Part of their appeal is the practical differences they can make to an individual’s life. Using gym equipment, withdrawing from
cash machines and reaching for high shelves in supermarkets are some of the weekly tasks made possible by being raised from a seating to a standing position.

Then there are the psychological differences; standing face-to-face and eye-to-eye with peers, loved ones and colleagues can improve mood, confidence and self-esteem, Cheung says.

The possible health benefits are perhaps the biggest draw, however.

Standing rather than sitting can improve blood circulation, heart and lung function, bowel movement and bone density.

Reductions in muscle spasms, joint stiffness, tendon shrinkage and pressure sores are also reported among stand-up wheelchair users, according to Wheelchair88.

Wheelchair88 was founded in 2013 after Cheung’s father’s third stroke inspired him to create innovative solutions for people with mobility problems.

Its four models are the Leo II, Draco, Pegasus II and Phoenix II.

The Leo II is the lightest standing wheelchair in the world at only 27kg, with a foldable backrest and detachable wheels, and is used by
people who have two strong arms and mobility in their hands and fingers.

For people who only have fingers that are workable, the Pegasus II model is most suitable with its power assisted standing or sitting position activated by just one finger.

The Phoenix II is a highly accessible, fully powered wheelchair, which allows recline of up to 25 degrees, with adjustable armrest height, headrest, seat depth, leg length and footrest angle.

The Draco model builds on this even further with its lie-down function, and is particularly popular with users with diabetes or swollen legs and feet, as well as those who need frequent naps during the day.

Cheung says: “In daily life standing up talking to people face-to-face and eye-to-eye can be important. Standing wheelchairs means not sitting down all day. They help to release stress.

“Meanwhile, for someone with bedsores, standing wheelchairs are ideal in aiding recovery by enabling users to stand as frequently as possible, for as long as possible.

“Also if you go shopping you can reach the high shelves yourself,” he says.

“Because users feel more comfortable, emotionally they feel better. Sitting down all day makes you feel very unhappy, when you can walk around, relax a bit, go out into the garden, it makes you feel better. So they feel happier.”

With the exoskeleton being seen as the only real comparison to the standing wheelchair, the latter is proving more accessible on both a price and durability front.

“Exoskeleton technology is still unstable. The user must still have two strong arms in order to move on their own legs. It’s very costly, and there is still a chance of accidents,” says Cheung.

“Sometimes if you don’t handle well, you can fall. Your body has to lean forward, that’s not a good posture. These are only for users with a very strong upper body.

“Using a standing wheelchair, you have a knee strap, thigh strap, waist strap, chest strap, shoulder strap – so all kinds of straps. It depends on the user’s capability, we can use as little straps as we want, but most of all they
are comfortable.”

All four wheelchair models mentioned can be adjusted in terms of seat depth, leg length and foot plate angle (for stretching tendons while standing).

For more information on Wheelchair88’s range of standing wheelchairs, visit www.wheelchair88.com