famous wheelchair users - Franklin D Roosevelt

The Five Most Famous Wheelchair Users

In the face of great mobility challenges, countless world-changers and famous people have achieved great feats from their wheelchairs. From successful disabled athletes to members of the royal society, many famous disabled people have used wheelchairs, in some cases, for their entire life. When asked to recall famous people with disabilities, who comes to mind? Redman Power Chair has found the following list of the top five famous wheelchair users.

Wheelchairs and Famous People:

1. Franklin D Roosevelt

FDR on his wheelchair
Image Source: Wikipedia.com

Did you know that the 32nd President of the United States was also a wheelchair user through much of his life and presidency? When FDR was 39 years old, he became ill with what doctors now believe was Polio while on a family vacation. Without the professional medical advice and knowledge we have today. Eventually, the sickness caused Roosevelt to become paralyzed from the waist down, but he was determined to regain control of his legs. 

Through trying a wide range of therapies for this rare disorder characterized by progressive muscle weakness, including the hydrotherapy available in the early 1920s, Roosevelt could walk short distances with the help of iron braces and a cane. It is difficult to find information on Roosevelt’s wheelchair history, as he never used his wheelchair in public and reportedly went to great lengths to conceal his wheelchair use from the American public during his election and presidency. This is likely due to the discrimination against those with disabilities at the time.

Franklin D Roosevelt remains the only president to have been elected to four presidential terms, lasting from 1933 to 1945.

2. Frida Kahlo 

frida kahlo on her wheelchair
Image Source: Twitter.com

Known for her infamous, vibrant self-portraits, Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo was involved in a bus accident at just 18 years old. The crash would leave her with a likely spinal cord injury, physical ailments and mobility issues for the rest of her life. Making her another famous wheelchair user.

Many of Frida’s works were inspired by the pain she experienced after the accident and into adulthood. Even today, Frida Kahlo’s art is world-renowned at appreciated for its unique voice on gender, race, and sexuality. 

3. Stephen Hawking

famous wheelchair users - stephen hawking
Image Source: Paoline.org

It’s well known that a ground-breaking quantum theory physicist used a wheelchair. At 21, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS and given just two years to live. He challenged that morbid diagnosis by living to be 76 years old and learning to communicate despite suffering from near total body paralysis. Making him one of the most famous wheelchair users. 

Stephen Hawking famously wrote “A Brief History of Time”, first published in 1988. Hawking wrote the book for non-specialist readers with no prior knowledge of scientific theories, though his extensive work and specialty in black holes led him to discover they emitted radiation.

4. Christopher Reeves

Otherwise known as Superman, Christopher Reeves was a famous actor. With over 45 acting credits to his name, Reeves left his mark in the world of theatre and television.

wheelchair users - Christopher Reeves
Image Source: Abilitymagazine.com

A Horse Riding Accident

Following a horse riding accident, Reeves was left paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. However, this did not dim his enthusiasm, and he went on to found the Christopher Reeves Foundation, which raises money for people with spinal cord injuries and the research of stem cells. This made him a famous wheelchair user in Hollywood. 

Christopher Reeves co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center and was a renowned writer, director, and activist.

famous wheelchair users - barbara jordan
Image Source: Catalogue.com

5. Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan was no stranger to adversity, the first black Texan in Congress and the first black woman elected to the Texas State Senate. Jordan suffered from multiple sclerosis and was largely confined to her wheelchair, but decidedly kept the public focus off of her illness throughout her life.

Barbara Jordan was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

The Power of a Power Chair

redman power chair

Many of the famous wheelchair users listed above could not have imagined life with a power chair as opposed to a manual wheelchair, let alone the Redman Chief 107-ZRx!

A Redman power chair moves intrinsically to mimic your body and offers unique positions – Yoga, Stand & Stretch, Tilt in Space – that no other chair offers. The Redman Power Chair is the only mid-wheel standing chair that elevates, tilts, stands, and reclines using an exclusive counterbalancing system.

With over 35 years of technological advancements – including multiple proprietary and patented designs – our custom-tailored wheelchair allows for uncompromised mobility and accessibility to interact more fully with the world around you.

We invite you to learn more and start revolutionizing your mobility today by continuing to explore our website.

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