The Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health has been awarded a $52,000 grant from the Benter Foundation to continue its “Lifelong Mobility” project in central Mexico.
Inspired by the belief that all disabled children should have access to mobility devices, institute director David Dausey, Ph.D., started the project in 2008.
“We wanted to find ways to increase the lifecycle of wheelchairs to make more wheelchairs available to children in need,” he explained. “We also wanted to model the demand for wheelchairs to understand how best to direct charitable wheelchair donations.”
The project partners have now grown to include the Human Engineering Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, Teletón (the largest provider of rehabilitation services in Latin America) and the American Wheelchair Mission.
Together, the partners have developed the 4R Model for Lifelong Mobility
(Recycle, Reuse, Repair, Retrofit). The 4R Model establishes a depot of parts and tools accompanied by technicians who are trained to identify common problems with wheelchairs and fix them. Using engineering and epidemiologic methods, the model can be used to double the lifecycle of a traditional wheelchair.
“This project dovetails perfectly with the Mercy mission of Mercyhurst University,” Dausey said. “It gives students an experiential learning opportunity in the heart of Mexico that allows them to conduct public health research in a real-world setting while helping children in need.”