KARMA Wheelchairs: 30 Years of Innovation in the Making

When KARMA Medical was first founded in 1987, the founder, Kenny Chen, had a vision to be the best mobility aid provider. To become the best, he knew he needed reliable, high-quality products that would enrich the lives of all physically challenged people. The journey hasn’t always been a smooth one, but we’ve learned a lot on the way. 

Read on to discover how KARMA evolved into one of the world leaders in manual and power wheelchairs.

The moment of compassion that started it all

One rainy afternoon in Taipei, Taiwan, Chen noticed a woman struggling to fit her father’s wheelchair into the trunk of her car. 

He stopped to offer his assistance when he discovered the wheelchair was heavy and difficult to lift. After a lot of time and effort, they managed to squeeze the wheelchair into the trunk, except the trunk lid would not close. Chen could not forget the look of exhaustion and despair on the woman’s face or the unwieldy wheelchair. Chen wondered, “Did it really have to be this way? Couldn’t wheelchairs be designed better?”

This led to Chen establishing KARMA in 1987 where he opened his first manufacturing facility in Taipei. Although Chen had a clear vision, that did not mean that there weren’t setbacks along the way. After the second year, the business started to struggle and KARMA was left with just 3 employees trying to change the future of wheelchair mobility. 

Just one year later in 1990, KARMA’s remaining R&D team developed the first aluminum alloy wheelchair in Asia. 

KARMA wheelchairs reach new heights 

Over the last 30 years, KARMA has created numerous innovative wheelchair products all inspired by the needs of our customers.

A great example of this is our innovative Tilt-in-Space foldable wheelchair (VIP 515) that immediately became an industry-leading product. KARMA’s alternative not only provides the welcome pressure relief but is also foldable for convenient storage. Soon after the VIP 515 release, KARMA created a game-changing power standing wheelchair (Ergo Stand) that allows users to directly stand up from a seated position. 

None of this would be possible without the dedication and vigilance of the R&D team who continuously test and redevelop KARMA wheelchairs to pave the way for wheelchair innovation. Over the years, KARMA has obtained over 100 patents and gained the exclusive right to distribute VICAIR Cushions in Asia. 

The company’s Global profile has continued to grow with numerous awards recognizing the company’s commitment to innovative, user-focused design. KARMA received their latest Taiwan Excellence Award for SOMA 215 in 2019, achieving consecutive years of Taiwan Excellence awards.

Helping people live fulfilling lives

Today, KARMA’s dedication and values continue to underpin the company’s philosophy of providing high-quality and reliable products that enrich others’ lives. KARMA’s passion for helping people goes beyond providing a product, going one step further to ensure excellent care is provided to the customer. KARMA electric wheelchairs such as the Ergo Nimble are comfortable and compact which makes them perfect for carefree travel. 

KARMA’s patented S-Ergo Seating was also developed with Chen’s key philosophies in mind. Providing a wheelchair to take people from A to B wasn’t good enough. The S-Ergo Seating is an original KARMA design created to provide comfort to the user for long periods of sitting, as well as prevention of pressure ulcers and sliding. 

As of 2021, KARMA has provided high-quality mobility solutions to over 2 million people in 41 countries.  

Looking ahead

Since 1987, KARMA has strived to be a leader in wheelchair innovation with the user’s needs always at the forefront of that journey. 

KARMA will continue to develop solutions to support our users by expanding dealerships around the world to increase accessibility. KARMA continues to work towards a greener future and continues to reduce our carbon emissions, use fewer plastics, and make every element from packaging to a product as environmentally friendly as possible. A future in which all physically challenged people are able to lead fulfilling lives. 

You can check out the full range of KARMA wheelchairs and find out more about our unique power functions on the KARMA website.