A Colorado State University business and research collaboration is helping to improve the lives and health of wheelchair users. QuadshoX founder and CSU alumnus John Morris has teamed up with Associate Professor Raoul Reiser, director of the Clinical Biomechanics Laboratory in the CSU Department of Health and Exercise Science, to evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s wheelchair suspension system.
QuadShoX: Born@CSU business
Since graduation in 2015, Morris, who was an economics major in the College of Liberal Arts, has dedicated himself to building the business he launched through CSU’s Venture Accelerator program. QuadshoX produces a suspension system for manual wheelchairs, greatly reducing the jolts felt by wheelchair occupants. Morris, who is a wheelchair user himself, realized the potential to improve manual wheelchairs when he switched to a power chair with a full suspension system.
“I was being pushed around CSU in the beginning and wanted more independence with a power chair. I got the idea for the business because my manual chair didn’t have suspension,” said Morris. “We have suspension systems for bikes and cars, why not manual wheelchairs?”
Not only does a suspension system make for a smoother ride, but it also cuts down on adverse health effects felt by wheelchair users. Driving over bumps and sidewalk cracks results in vibrations which can cause pain, skin breakdown, seizures, and spinal misalignment. The addition of suspension can greatly increase comfort and allow wheelchair users to extend the amount of time they can spend in their chairs.
Improving quality of life
“Being able to leave your house is huge for people with disabilities – it greatly improves quality of life if you can spend more hours mobile in your chair – for example 10 or 15 hours vs. five hours,” said Arianna Kilmer, director of finance and administration for QuadshoX and a CSU alumna of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
A power wheelchair with suspension can weigh 500 pounds, causing some drawbacks. Having a power wheelchair doesn’t eliminate the need for a manual one. “Everyone needs two pairs of shoes to meet different needs – you have a pair of running shoes and a pair of dress shoes. It’s similar with power and manual wheelchairs. When we want to go to a friend’s house with stairs, or travel on an airplane, we need a manual chair,” said Kilmer.
“The airlines kept breaking my power chair,” added Morris.
While going through the process for FDA approval of their medical device, Morris and Kilmer realized the need for independent testing and data analysis.
“We knew from personal experience and testimonials from our customers that the addition of QuadshoX made a difference in quality of life, but we needed to validate the product. We were going through the FDA and Medicaid reimbursement approval process and we needed a white paper showing that the product really works,” said Morris.