The bound­ries of what it means to be dis­abled

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend | Disability - ZON PANN PWINT

UHtein Lin, a basketball trainer for peo­ple with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, has been con­fined to a wheel­chair since the age of three, when he was struck with de­bil­i­tat­ing po­lio. As he spends most of his day in his wheel­chair, he knows how ex­hausted one can be­come by push­ing this rudi­men­tary ve­hi­cle for hours on a hot day. It is time-con­sum­ing and ex­haust­ing, he says.

To ad­dress the is­sue, U Htein Lin im­pro­vised in 2010 a mo­torised wheel­chair out of used mo­tor cy­cle wheels and a mo­tor from a mo­tor­cy­cle. Af­ter years of trial and er­ror, he per­fected his mo­tor-wheel­chair which he now uses. It can travel at up to 45 miles per hour.

“Through sim­ple trial and er­ror, and then mak­ing ad­just­ments, I de­vel­oped my mo­tor-wheel­chair to be fully func­tional,” ex­plained U Htein Lin. “Like a car, it can go back and go forth,” he added.

It is be­lieved that he is the first per­son in the coun­try to have im­pro­vised a mo­torised wheel­chair. His mo­tor wheel­chair model is widely used by dis­abled flower mer­chants and lot­tery ticket sell­ers in Yan­gon.

“I buy ac­ces­sories at mo­tor­cy­cle shops and as­sem­ble the wheel­chairs by my­self with the help of my pupil, who also con­tracted po­lio and is now dis­abled.” he said.

U Htein Lin’s mo­tor wheel­chair has many ac­ces­sories; You can even charge your phone on the go.

As a revo­lu­tion in the daily life of phys­i­cally dis­abled peo­ple, his in­ven­tion is now be­ing or­dered from across the coun­try. For in­stance, a wheel­chair user from Kawthaung, on the south­ern tip of Myan­mar, has or­dered a cus­tomised mo­tor­wheelchair that will be shipped to him. U Htein Lin’s prices range from K350,000 to K550,000, de­pend­ing on de­sired mo­tor strength.

“I check with the customer what kind of dis­abil­ity he has and his body size. I make cus­tom pieces to fit the client.” he ex­plained.

Be­yond be­ing an in­no­va­tor, U Htein Lin is also a sports­man. His pas­sion for phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity started as a teenager. He started rac­ing on his man­ual wheel­chair af­ter find­ing a job with the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion.

“As I was skilled at sports, the min­istry en­cour­aged me to fo­cus on that.” he added.

As a dis­abled ath­lete, he brought home medals as a wheel­chair racer in the Par­a­lympics games hosted in Thai­land, Malaysia, Singapore and China.

In 2015, he started work­ing for the Min­istry of Health and Sports and finds time to do wheel­chair basketball train­ing.

“I have so many medals that they can fill a bas­ket!” he joked.

To in­quire about or­der­ing a cus­tom mo­torised wheel­chair, con­tact U Htein Lin at 09420055224.

Photo: Sup­plied

U Htein Lin.

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