Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

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Aina Lucia Wifalk

1928-03-211983-09-16

Counsellor, inventor of the walker

Aina Wifalk invented the walker, thereby providing a huge number of people who have trouble walking with a new chance at freedom and an improved quality of life.

Aina Wifalk was born in Lund in 1928. Her parents brought her and her brother up in the cathedral town. She began to train as a nurse in 1947 but two years later, when she was 21 years old, she was struck down by polio and was forced to pull out of her training. She then decided to become a counsellor instead and that became her career for more than 20 years.

In 1952 Aina Wifalk instigated the Lunds invalidförening (society for cripples), a local branch of De handikappades riksförbund (national association for those with handicaps). In 1957 she began to work as a counsellor at the Västerås hospital orthopaedic clinic. She was one of the instigators of the Västmanland county MS-society in 1958 and of the Västerås Riksförening för trafik- och polioskadade (national association of those suffering from traffic accidents and polio) in 1968. That same year she was employed as counsellor to the handicapped members of Västerås municipality.

Aina Wifalk was a determined, knowledgeable, and fearless counsellor who never gave up on a patient. It was her idea to create exercise options for those with mobility issues, such as the manuped which she created in the mid-1960s. This was an exercise tool for rehabilitation which resembles a stationary training bicycle. The manuped allows the patient to train their arms and their legs simultaneously – even if they are wheelchair-bound. Using regional benefits centres to award state- and county council benefits to people with problems such as mobility issues was another of Aina Wifalk’s innovations.

By 1975 Aina Wifalk’s own health problems forced her to stop working as a counsellor for handicapped people. She had to receive sickness benefits as her shoulders had become worn down following 20 years of using crutches. While visiting a library in 1978 she caught sight of a book trolley being used by the librarians to transport books. This gave her the idea to develop a new wheel-based tool. She based the invention on her own needs – requiring it to be lightweight, comfortable to use, and to facilitate life for people with mobility issues. That same year she formally presented her complete concept as she applied for financial help from the development fund in order to turn her idea into a finished product. The fund administrators immediately recognised the potential of Aina Wifalk’s invention. She got the financial support she needed and hired a company to construct the first prototype of the so-called walker. Production began just three years later and walkers have subsequently been produced in their thousands and can be found across the globe, giving a lot of joy and happiness to everyone with walking difficulties. Now one can find walkers in a variety of different capacities, sizes, and materials – anything from wood to aluminium – and the basic idea has been adapted for various needs and environments.

Aina Wifalk never took out a patent for the walker. She wanted as many people as possible to have access to it. Those royalties she did receive from sales were donated to Nordiska Kyrkoföreningen (Scandinavian church society) in Costa del Sol.

Aina Wifalk died in Västerås in 1983.


Jöns Posse


Published 2018-03-08



You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Aina Lucia Wifalk, www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/AinaWifalk, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Jöns Posse), retrieved 2020-11-24.




Other Names

    Maiden name: Olsson


Family Relationships

Civil Status: Unmarried
  • Mother: Uppgifter saknas
  • Father: Uppgifter saknas
  • Brother: Uppgifter saknas


Education

  • Yrkesutbildning, Lund: Sjuksköterskeutbildning (avbruten)
  • Yrkesutbildning, Lund: Utbildning till kurator


Activities

  • Profession: Kurator, Västerås lasaretts ortopediska klinik
  • Profession: Handikappkurator, Västerås kommun
  • Non-profit work: Uppfinnare av manupeden och rollatorn


Contacts

  • Friend: Marianne Eriksson


Organisations

  • De handikappades riksförbund
    Medlem, initiativtagare till lokalföreningen Lunds invalidförening
  • Västmanlands läns MS-förening
    Initiativtagare, medlem
  • Riksförbundet för Trafik- och Polioskadade
    Initiativtagare, medlem, avdelningen i Västerås


Residences

  • Birthplace: Lund
  • Lund
  • Västerås
  • Place of death: Västerås


Sources

Literature
  • Posse, Jöns, 'Nöden är uppfinningarnas moder : nytänkare', Företagshistoria, 2015:1, s. 45-46

Unpublished source
  • Artikelförfattarens personliga kunskap



Further References