A Battersea student has won a design competition for her innovative wheelchair design to help people with spinal cord injuries.

Kristen Tapping, 36, produced ‘Moveo’ which is designed to propel the user forwards by them pushing backwards, which exerts less force and effort than a normal wheelchair.

Kristen, who is a second-year product design student at London South Bank University, won £3,000 prize money and £2,000 for her university.

This wheelchair was designed especially for people with a spinal cord injury and makes moving easy through gear reduction, lightweight yet high strength materials and carefully designed to give the user more grip.

With comfort in mind, intelligent textiles also help to regulate the users’ body temperature.

The purpose of the competition was for UK-based university students to design a product aimed at improving the lives of people with a spinal cord injury.

Law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, which acts for people with a spinal cord injury and helps them get their lives back on track, was looking for a design which was both unique and practical, and which really considered the needs of those with a spinal cord injury.

Kristen Tapping said: “I am thrilled to have won this competition. I had the intention coming into this competition of doing anything but a wheelchair, partly because so many designers have had a go, I wasn’t sure what I could add. But after seeing horrendous looking wheelchairs and trying one out myself, I decided to see what I could come up with.

“I have come to understand that the day-to-day problems facing people with spinal cord injuries, often their inability to use their hands, properly regulate their body temperature, lack of upper body strength, and overall lowered immune system, makes them different from the typical wheelchair buying market – and was first inspired by trying to separate the wheel from the rail, to make sure users hands don’t get dirty”

Commenting on the winning design, Raquel Siganporia, head of the spinal injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “I was really impressed with a great number of the entries, but Kristen’s showed real understanding of the needs of people with a spinal cord injury. For many people with a spinal cord injury, their wheelchair is the most essential piece of equipment they use every day. To recognise the design’s shortcomings and come up with an innovative and viable alternative is no mean feat.”

This is the first competition Bolt Burdon Kemp has run with universities across the UK.