Students build standing wheelchair

May 7, 2014 7:44 PM

Chelsie Hill was paralyzed as a teenager and has gained recognition from the reality show Push Girls on the Sundance Channel. Now a group of Chico State students have given her a chance to live a more normal life. Four years ago, Hill’s life was changed forever. “I was a senior in high school and I got in a car with a drunk driver. We hit a tree head on and I broke my back and I’ve been paralyzed for four years now."

After a relative got in contact with the Chico State engineering department, the idea of a standing wheelchair started to become a reality. "They really did their own research and they did it all themselves. There's just a few minor things about the knees and stuff, but other than that they did amazing," said Hill.

With this standing wheelchair, she hopes to start living a more normal life. “Using this machine is going to help me be able to cook standing up and also help building my bone density or wash dishes standing up or be able to put things up in high places that I wouldn't necessarily be able to reach anymore."

After seeing the chair for the first time, it was a lot for her to take in. "I have to pinch myself because I still can't believe today's the day I get to see it and it's actually real and it's not just an idea that everyone’s talking about anymore."

Engineering students at Chico State spend nearly a year and 800 engineering hours to make this chair possible. They say it was all worth it. "Just to see the look on Chelsie’s face and her family, and to know that we've actually made a change and inspired some good and some help in their lives... That’s a great feeling," said James Egelston, mechanical engineering student at Chico State. "Hill added “after being paralyzed for four years and not necessarily thinking I would be able to stand up again and do things normal, I’m just thankful I can have that opportunity now."

The engineering students got some of Hill’s dimensions when they met her and have to make a few adjustments. They hope to have the chair ready for her to use in a couple of weeks.


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