Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts about Wheelchairs and People with Disabilities

(Columbia – 2011)

(Peru – 2007)

  • In countries like Cambodia and Afghanistan 5% to 10% of males between 15 and 44 have had amputations due to landmines.
  • Angola, torn apart by decades of civil war has the largest physically disabled population per capita of any country in the world.  Estimates run as high as 20%.
  • Some instances of disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy are 5 to 10 times higher in poorer countries.
  • For every child killed in warfare, three are injured and acquire a permanent form of disability
  • In some countries up to 25% of disabilities result from injuries and violence
  • Poor people are more at risk of acquiring a disability because of lack of access to good nutrition, health care, sanitation, as well as living and working conditions
  • 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school according to UNESCO.
  • The earliest records of ‘wheeled furniture’ was an inscription found on a  stone slate in China and a child’s bed depicted in a frieze on a Greek vase, both dating back to the 6th century BC
  • The first records of wheeled seats being used for transporting the disabled are from the 3rd century BC when the Chinese used their invented wheelbarrow to move people as well as heavy objects
  • Harry Jennings and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, both mechanical engineers, invented the first lightweight, steel, collapsible wheelchair in 1933.  Their “x-brace” design is still in common use, albeit with updated materials and other improvements
  • The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt was paralyzed and used a wheelchair although he never wanted his photo taken in a way that would disclose his disability
  • In 2012 an underwater wheelchair was developed for diving.  There are also specialized wheelchairs used for paragliding, basketball, soccer, tennis, the beach and just about anything you can think of.