Taiwanese physiatrist Huai-Yu Tsai developed a motorcycle for persons with disabilities when he was a medical student at the National Taiwan University in 1970. An attack of poliomyelitis during his childhood had weakened Tsai’s bilateral lower limbs significantly, making ambulation extremely difficult. Because of this limitation, he decided to enter disability medicine, beginning his specialized training in July 1976. In the ensuing years, the motorcycle for persons with disabilities gradually became more popular in Taiwan.
Modified from a regular motorcycle (specifically, a motor scooter; see Fig. 1), the motorcycle is intended for people who experience weakness or paralysis in the bilateral lower limbs. Significant modifications in the motorcycle include the addition of two rear wheels connected to the regular rear wheel, thus increasing the stability of the vehicle. A second modification is the use of all-hand controls for operating the vehicle. Another modification is the expansion of the foot support, making it easier for the disabled person to mount and dismount the vehicle. This expansion also provides a space to store a cane or crutches used to assist ambulation. The size of the disabled motorcycle is about 2 × 1 × 0.5 m.
Some advantages of the disabled motorcycle are as follows:
1. There is a provision of a relatively high speed of transportation for a person with disability.
2. There are lesser physical space needs than regular disabled vehicles (such as disabled vans or even cars). This is advantageous in places like Taiwan, where parking spaces are so limited.
3. It is cheaper and more fuel efficient than a regular vehicle. Therefore, the patient saves on the price of the vehicle and on fuel costs.
4. Because it has four-wheel support, it is much safer than a regular motorcycle for a disabled person.
5. In traffic, its presence alone can serve as a warning to others that the operator of the vehicle is disabled and that care should therefore be taken when near this person.
Currently, this type of transportation is rarely found outside of Taiwan. I recommend that the disabled motorcycle be more aggressively introduced to the rest of the world.