Jun 8, 2009

Stair Climbing Wheel Chairs


Do you remember the nation's first stair-climbing wheelchair? It hit the market with a bang, but fell down on price.

Johnson & Johnson quietly sold the last iBOTs this spring, shuttering manufacturing of a wheelchair that doctors had greeted five years ago as potentially revolutionary, but which failed to sell more than a few hundred a year. Earlier this month, a veteran who lost his legs in Iraq received the last known available iBOT, donated after its initial owner died.

Some iBOT users are joining inventor Dean Kamen, known for his Segways, in lobbying Congress for reimbursement changes that they hope could revive the chairs. They cost $22,000, but Medicare only paid $6,000.