Thousands of lives in Britain would be ruined without stairlifts.The stairlift, which improves safety on the stairs, are highly advanced devices for elderly or disabled people - but the history of this incredible invention is rarely examined.In the 1920s, an American engineer, a Pennsylvanian named Mr Crispen, invented a device designed to help his polio-stricken friend climb stairs unaided. He called it the ‘Inclinator'.However, this claim, which is backed up by many online sources, has been disputed by historian Dr David Starkey.He claims the origins of the stair lift goes back much further than that - to the infamous English monarch Henry VIII.The king consumed ridiculously sized meals - often consisting of thirty courses.This meant he quickly became obese - to the extent of having a fifty-two inch waist.The obvious mobility restrictions meant the King's aides had to create a chair hauling method - with block and tackle pull ropes - similar to those used on his warship the Mary Rose.This innovative creation required the strength of numerous servants lifting the giant royal thirty stone framework up some 20 feet of staircase at the Whitehall Palace in London.On top of everything a jousting accident causing an injury had meant that the King's days of travelling, hunting and horse riding some twenty miles daily were undoubtedly numbered. The arrival of the ‘Stairthrone' meant that he could ‘stay in his home forever'.In modern times, however, one of the most interesting innovations in the history of stairlifts is the battery-powered stairlift.These stairlifts are very useful in areas which are prone to power outages - because the battery provides power to the motor even when there is no electricity in other areas of the home.However, battery-powered stair lifts are generally more expensive than models that plug directly into the mains. The batteries have to be replaced every so often.Heavy-duty stair lifts are available that can support people who weigh up to 500 pounds.The demand for stairlifts is likely to increase dramatically as the population ages and people live longer in the coming years.Even if new high-tech wheelchairs which can climb stairs become a lot cheaper, there will always be a market for stairlifts on staircases which are too narrow and curved to accommodate such wheelchairs.The wonderful invention is described in the UK with one single word - stairlifts. But Americans prefer the double word version - stair lifts.If you'd like to learn more about stair lifts visit

Multicare Stairlifts is an accredited NHS provider of community equipment, specialising in supplying community equipment to help people who have recently been discharged from hospital or who find it difficult to get around the home.

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