Don’t you love it when a new approach to a familiar solution challenges all your assumptions? That’s the case with a new design for wheels that gives wheelchair users a smoother and safer ride.

The SoftWheel is an in-wheel suspension system. Most wheelchairs use wheels mounted to a hub using rigid spokes of one sort or another. The axle attached to the hub then relies on some sort of shock-absorbing system to reduce the forces that are transferred from the wheels to the chair and the user. SoftWheel takes a completely different approach. The wheel is attached to the axle hub using a series of three individual shock absorbers.

These devices are able to absorb impacts on the wheel rapidly, then quickly reset. This greatly reduces the vibration and impacts felt by the user, which in turn reduces pain and fatigue. It makes it easier to travel over rough terrain as the system smooths out the bumps. It is even possible to roll down stairs with a minimum of vibration and shocks. The new wheel technology is available through Numotion, a company that specializes in mobility and rehabilitation equipment.