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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Civil War Wheelchairs

The wheelchair has helped people to move more freely for centuries. The oldest known example is depicted in carved stone on a 6th century Chinese sarcophagus.
The 1700’s produced the first wheelchair of a similar design to those used today. A long-lived model known as the “Bath Chair” was offered in 1783 by inventor John Dawson of Bath, England. The chair had two large front wheels and one small rear one. The Bath Chair outsold all others through the early 1800’s.
The Civil War is the first recorded instance of wheelchair use in America. The Bath Chair design continued to be popular until 1867 when inventors began to improve upon the somewhat uncomfortable device, adding hollow rubber wheels and “push rims” for self-propelling the chair.
IMAGE: Civil War era wheelchair of oak and caning

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