An air-powered wheelchair designed at University of Pittsburgh's Human Engineering Research Laboratories gave some children a chance to cool off and have some summertime fun this month at Morgan's Wonderland, a waterpark in San Antonio, Texas.
The waterpark is completely wheelchair accessible and features a wheelchair valet where kids can trade in their chairs for the PneuChair, which is powered by compressed air. It uses no electricity, making it safe to use in the water.
PneuChair was designed by Rory Cooper, director of the Pitt lab, and his team.
“People, they just want their kids to be able to run through sprinklers,” Cooper told the Tribune-Review in May. “Veterans who say they just want to be able to wade in the water to go trout fishing.”
Sports Outdoors and Recreation, a nonprofit established by The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation in San Antonio, bought the chair design and a design for a scooter from Pitt and the VA.
The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation runs Morgan's Wonderland, named for Gordon Hartman's daughter, Morgan, who has a cognitive delay. The park will receive the first 10 PneuChairs that are produced.
Hartman, founder of the foundation and park, said the PneuChairs are revolutionary.
“Our guests in expensive battery-powered wheelchairs can't afford to get them wet, so we have special Morgan's Inspiration Island PneuChairs available first-come, first-served,” Hartman said in a statement. “The first PneuChairs to go into service are prototypes that are already undergoing significant improvements.”
The park opened Morgan's Inspiration Island this month. There is a River Boat Adventure ride and five tropical-themed water play areas that include raintrees, falls, pools, geysers, jets, water cannons and buckets full of water to tip.