In the realm of mobility aids, the traditional options such as walkers and scooters often limit the user’s engagement with their surroundings. Addressing this drawback, Barbara Alink, a Dutch designer residing in Canada, has designed the Alinker, an innovative mobility aid that aims to retain users’ independence and promote active participation in life.
Understanding the traditional perspective of mobility aids, which tends to focus on the physical requirements and often emphasizes the disability, Alink decided to think out of the box. She recognized the need for a mobility aid that did not solely focus on physical limitations but also factored in the human experience of its users, thereby breaking society’s stereotypical assumptions about disability.
The Alinker is essentially a non-motorized walking trike without pedals that allows users to remain upright and mobile at their own pace. Its design features a radically curved aluminum frame that connects two 16-inch front wheels with an 8-inch rear wheel, thus supporting an adjustable seat towards the center of the dropping tube. This setup allows users to set the seat at a comfortable height, supporting their weight while they move forward under their own power.
This transformative design retains the engagement aspect that is often lost in traditional mobility aids. With the Alinker, users can remain at eye level, fostering more natural conversations and interactions with others. Additionally, the Alinker utilizes standard bicycle hardware and is compatible with most bicycle accessories, thus amplifying its convenience and adaptability.
While the Alinker was created with a vision to challenge societal assumptions about disability, its use is not limited to people with disabilities. It serves a broader audience, including people living with Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s, CMT, Arthritis, Spinal Cord Injuries, or those who have had a stroke or an amputation. However, its usage does require users to have some command over their legs, be cognizant of their surroundings, and be able to make judgments about their own abilities.
The Alinker is not just about physical support; it is also about activating the brain. It stimulates the brain to find and create neural pathways, thereby aiding the control of extremities and movement. However, like any physical activity, using the Alinker can be demanding, particularly for those who have lost a significant degree of their mobility.
Despite its broad usage, the Alinker is not designed to race downhill or exceed speeds of 5 km/hr. The trike works best on flat or relatively flat areas, and while some users might find slight inclines a good muscle-strengthening exercise, for others, these could be too challenging. It is always advised to exercise caution and remain within one’s limits while using the Alinker.
As per the specifications, the Alinker weighs 26.5 lb (12 kg) and can support users weighing up to 265 lb (120 kg). It features a rear-wheel brake, and the frame can fold up to fit into a car trunk. The rear wheels are also equipped with quick-release axles for easy removal during transport and storage.
The Alinker can be purchased through the official website for $2,570. Recognizing that this cost may be prohibitive for some, the website also offers the option to start a mini crowdfunding campaign to finance the purchase.
To conclude, the Alinker is not just a mobility aid but a tool that redefines the very perception of disability. It encourages users to stay active and engage in life while managing their mobility challenges. It is designed for user experience and can be a game-changer for those looking to regain their freedom, mobility, and independence.
Updated on 4th July, 2023