It's complicated and carries a hefty pricetag, but the federally approved iBOT wheelchair promises to give some of the nation's 2 million wheelchair users new freedom of movement, even allowing them to climb stairs.It's a wheelchair. Where does the FDA get the authority to approve a wheelchair? Where does it get the authority to require a prescription for a wheelchair? Why aren't people rioting in front of the FDA? Why aren't they burning their representatives of Congress in effigy?
The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) on Wednesday authorized the sale of the iBOT, which uses sensors and gyroscopes to climb up and down stairs. It also shifts into four-wheel drive to navigate grassy hills and can lift its occupant to standing height.
Doctors have called the technology potentially revolutionary and the FDA termed it a breakthrough, but one so complex that, unlike other wheelchairs, it will require a doctor's prescription and special training before patients can buy an iBOT.
This in a nation whose founders rioted over tea.