people with neuromuscular disorders globally
mobility devices sold in the UK each year
Personal Mobility Devices Market by 2024
Mobility devices have had limited innovation despite the significant number of people that depend upon them for their every day lives
There are currently 127,000 people in the UK that as a result of neuromuscular disorders are in need of a mobility device.
This increases by 634,000 in the US and 1.46m in Europe to 14.35m globally.
Yet the models that are on the market today are impractical, unappealing and impact the users sense of self worth.
Despite the lack of innovation, quality and practicality, estimates suggest that there are over 300,000 of these devices on the UK roads and that there are over 80,000 sold in a single year.
Market was valued at US$ 8bn in 2015 and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 7.2% from 2016 to 2024 to reach US$ 15bn in 2024.
Corporal Phil Eaglesham is one of these people, and despite the strength to go from the Royal Marines to the Paralympic squad, he still has several problems with the current solutions
Phil Eaglesham is a Royal Marines Commando who contracted Q Fever (Helmand Fever) during active service in Afghanistan.
As a result, he relies on wheelchairs and similar devices for his mobility. Traditional devices restrict his mobility and independence, which results in him shutting himself away from the world.
He completed tours of duty in Norway and Iraq, as well as being deployed to Afghanistan on two occasions, being promoted to Corporal and being awarded a CINC fleet Commendation and also the US Army Achievement Medal for his efforts in Iraq.
Today, Phil has just returned from Rio having competed in the Target Shooting at the Paralympic games. As his condition deteriorates, his reliance on a mobility device has led him to try and create something more suitable for every user.
The team have used numerous devices and identified the clear need for innovation to help the millions of users
Having tried out numerous solutions that were in the market, they realised that none of them tackled everyday problems that he and other mobility device users on a daily basis
- Social height – being talked down to when you are sitting in a wheelchair is a frustrating experience as people treat you as ‘disabled’
- Mounting kerbs – most devices cannot climb a simple pavement so going from road to the path or even just crossing the road is often more of a challenge than it needs to be
- Inside and out – several devices will not fit through a standard door and therefore the users require numerous vehicles to get through a full day, e.g. one for home, one to go to the shops etc.
- Sitting at a table – several mobility devices have front steering and controls so the user cannot easily and discreetly pull up to a table
- Look good, feel good – most mobility devices on the market have had little or no design input and we want our solution to make the user feel empowered.
- Modular – as users conditions decline there is often a need for modifications resulting in a new device being required. A modular system will allow the customisations to be applied as required on the existing device
Premium solutions in the market tackle some of these issues, but bring new problems with them
Phil was fortunate enough to be provided with a Segway by “The C Group” and had adaptions funded by the “RMCTF”.
The Segway brought lots of benefits to both Phil and his family as it enabled him to move around more easily and to access new terrains as well as joining in new activities. For instance, it was able to negotiate regular kerbs that would obstruct more traditional mobility solutions and, as Phil was now “at eye level” rather than “sat down at pram/stroller level” he was often treated differently by those he met.
The increased mobility meant that he was able to manoeuvre down the street holding hands with his wife and to assist his youngest son to learn to ride a bike. The Segway was also perceived as being “cool”, which along with the physical benefits, contributed to improving the mental wellbeing of both Phil and his young family.
However, there are design elements that are unsuitable for someone with disabilities (such as the need for significant upper body strength), use of the Segway is only legal on private land in the UK and, as his condition has deteriorated, he had to adapt the Segway with help, using innovative problem solving solutions, and today cannot use it at all.