The Leveraged Freedom Chair: An Initial Impact Study

In January 2014, the Scale-Ups team followed up with users of the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC) to gather feedback and begin to document the impact of the product. During the study, the team interviewed and observed 27 users of the LFC in Jaipur, Indore and Delhi.

Twenty-one of the interviews were male and six were female. The majority of the interviews were fairly young: nearly 60% were 30 years old or younger. Many used a wheelchair because they had spinal cord injuries, amputated legs, polio or cerebral palsy. Twenty-five of the interviewees had used the product in the last six months, primarily for outdoor travel over distances of 1-3 km. Only 11 had used the LFC indoors, which was primarily due to space limitations.

Through this study, the team gathered important feedback on the product. GRIT, the enterprise that produces the chair led by Scale-Ups fellow Tish Scolnik, will be able to use this feedback to plan future modifications to the LFC.

The results overall were very encouraging. Twenty users said that they would recommend the product to others. Users generally felt that the wheelchair was more comfortable and safer than their previous mobility aid and their outdoor mobility improved. For those that had a previous mobility aid, nine out of ten said it was better than their previous one. However, some users also recommended improvements to the LFC. Among others, these recommendations included keeping the front wheel from lifting off the ground, increasing the size of the seat, and including a bag or stand to carry items. At the time of the study, GRIT had already begun to implement design modifications for later-model chairs which would address some of these recommendations.

Scale-Ups also documented the impact on the users. Sixteen said their outdoor mobility improved after using the wheelchair and nine said it improved a lot. Nine of the 25 users indicated that they go out more and six said that they have more independence. Others mentioned because of the wheelchair, they are planning to start a business. Some said that the LFC helps them with domestic work and generally feels good. Fifteen users also said that they have experienced improved interactions with neighbors and friends as a result of using the LFC.

In the future, and in light of GRITs accelerated growth, it will be important to do a larger scale impact evaluation, measuring the effects over a larger population and comparing it to a control group. However, it’s clear from the results of this initial study that the Leveraged Freedom Chair has some demonstrated impacts on users’ quality of life.