Twenty years ago Jerry Schaeffer, an engineer from Beaverton, fashioned the idea for a different kind of wheelchair built on the concept that wheelchairs should help, not harm, the user. So unlike traditional wheelchairs with push rims on the wheels, Schaeffer’s Quantum Runner is propelled by vertical pull levers, which help prevent injuries common to conventional chairs such as torn shoulder muscles and pinched wrist nerves. Jon Schaeffer, Jerry’s son and business partner, says the Quantum Runner is ergonomically friendly because it exercises back and chest muscles evenly. It also has four gears and disc brakes, providing more power up hills and safer stopping on the way down. The chair isn’t meant to replace a traditional wheelchair — it’s more like the sports car in the garage alongside the sedan. The Schaeffers have the prototype and are looking for startup money. Does the elder Schaeffer see himself using a Quantum Runner one day? “You better believe it,” he says.
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