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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Monthly Archives: September 2017

  • Invictus games commence with wheelchair tennis win for UK

    With the Invictus games now underway we will be looking forward to all sports but particularly wheelchair tennis which is such a great game to watch. Today the preliminary open doubles wheelchair tennis has started with competitors Kirk Hughes and Cornelia Oosthuizen from the United Kingdom playing the host team from Canada with Pearce Bourassa and Kelly Scanlan. Naturally the UK won the game with a final score of 6-0 being a brilliant start to the wheelchair tennis tournament.

    Next up was Holland versus New Zealand. The Dutch fans could be heard chanting ‘Holland’ repeatedly, and the stands were filled with easily identifiable orange t-shirts and the national Dutch flag as Jelle van der Steen and Ronald van Dort took their match with a score of 6-3. Although both are players in the wheelchair tennis tournament they are also about to compete in both wheelchair basketball and swimming.

    "It is great to see them playing sports they love,” said Jelle’s father. After their wheelchair tennis match, Jelle and Ronald spoke about their experience playing with one another.

    “We have been playing tennis together for a few months now. A very short time,” Jelle said. They enjoy playing wheelchair tennis, but wheelchair basketball is their sport. “We play wheelchair tennis well but we are wheelchair basketball players.  That is our sport and wheelchair tennis is our extra sport,” Ronald said.

    You can visit the official Invictus site and see more wheelchair tennis by clicking here. Why not tune in and watch some of the Invicta games, hopefully you might be as inspired as me when you get to see some of the wheelchair sports.

  • Folding wheels for wheelchairs

    We like to keep up to date on all things wheelchairs and show particular interest in new technology that may affect us in the coming years. So it was with particular interest when i read about folding wheelchair wheels and how they may just become a mainstream option for everyday wheelchair users who travel frequently.

    SO why would a folding wheelchair wheel be of benefit? the main reason is the ability to stow the wheels with ease in overhead lockers in aircraft or other areas in public transport where space is restricted. The overhead locker option is very attractive as it would mean that the wheelchair could remain in the cabin where it is secure and not be put in the airplane hold where it could become damaged.

    This has all come about as a result of hard work from one man who also created foldable wheels for bicycles manufactured by Morph wheels. "This is the first foldable wheelchair wheel," says Kathleen Hanek, product management Director at Morph Wheels. "It's all about making things easier and increasing accessibility for wheelchair users" she says.

    I think there is also a profit driven motif here somewhere as the early inference is that a pair of these folding wheelchair wheels will cost something in the region of £800.

    Currently the folding wheels are a little heavy and weight approximately double what a standard wheelchair wheel does due to their construction using solid rubber tyres rather than pneumatic. But as we all know, solid tyres have their benefits and are not prone to punctures !

    Early feedback from wheelchair users is very positive - "I've never seen anything like them," says Bob Vogel, a paraplegic wheelchair user who writes for the New Mobility magazine owned by the United Spinal Association. "I love the innovation. I don't see your average user taking the time to fold a wheel to get it into a car," he says. "If it takes an extra 20 seconds per wheel, that's a lot of time."

    Of course like many great inventions it took a British designer to get the concept off the ground and this all started with work by a British designer called Duncan Fitzsimmons.  After receiving enquiries from us folk in the wheelchair community, he eventually decided to teamed up with Maddak and redesigned the bicycle wheels for use on wheelchairs.

    The design process consulted a number of wheelchair users in a focus group to ensure that a practical design was born and that the end result was a truly usable product that would benefit wheelchair users in their everyday lives. As a result, the design was named the top design in the transportation industry in 2013 by the London Museum of Design.

    "The trick was to create a wheel that wasn't just a folding wheel," Hanek says. "It needs to act and feel just like a normal wheel when it's unfolded."

    It would be fantastic to see the price of these folding wheelchair wheels come down to an affordable price so that they could be made available for more wheelchair users before too long.

  • Paperweights and wheelchairs

    In a hugely digitally led era we found it amusung to see Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson handing out specially produced paperweights to Lifetime Achiever Award winners at the British Healthcare Trades Association’s (BHTA) Centenary celebrations.

    Pictured in her wheelchair, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson looked very proud to be dispensing the relatively useless largely defunt objects to those who have made significant difference to peoples lives, while the BHTA President Mike Lord congratulated the guests for their efforts and thanked them for their valuable contributions to the healthcare industry.

    The British Healthcare Trades Awards will be presented on Thursday 30th November 2017 but it was good to see the lifetime achievers together to recognise the good they have done which has helped to imrove the quality of lives for all including those of us who use wheelchairs.

    The Dame does so much good work including being Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, a formidible Paralympic athlete and her more recent role as a motivational speaker not to mention her being a mother and all taken in her 'stride' as a wheelchair user. Tanni as she likes to be known, realised at age 13 that Wheelchair Racing was her chosen sport and from then onwards did all that she could to excel in everything that she turned her hand to.

  • Protecting the wheelchair during air travel

    With another story of a wheelchair getting damaged in transit with an airline we look in to what else can be done to minimise the risk of this happening to you and your wheelchair.

    Last week Andy Lathams custom wheelchair was damaged beyond repair by handling agent Swissport who operate in many airports in the UK. Its not clear what happened to the wheelchair only that it was left in such a bad state that it was not usable and this was at the start of his holiday with his wife.

    The self propelled wheelchair was loaded on to the Ryan air plane in a folded state and somehow during the loading process it contacted with the aircraft and caused damage to the airplane also leaving it unfit to fly and causing all passenger to have to leave that aircraft.

    Andy who was left partly paralysed following a brain hemorrhage is dependent on his wheelchair for most of the day. Once disembarking it was clearly evident that the wheelchair had received a series of heavy knocks that had caused one wheel and the frame to become badly bent.

    If you are planning a trip soon and fear that your wheelchair may become damaged then there are a few basic steps that you can take to best protect your valuable wheelchair from unnecessary damage. The first one is to buy and use a bag that is designed for the transportation of wheelchairs. Check that the wheelchair bag has a modicum of padding in all areas including the base where it will rest on the ground but also the side panels which will contain the wheelchair.

    In order to reduce damage to the wheelchair it is best remove all components from the frame so that they too can be placed in the bag and do not protrude which will help to prevent them from being broken. So, wheels, footrests and headrests off and placed to one side. next fold the wheelchair and once folded use the clip (if supplied) to secure the wheelchair in the folded position. If your model doesn’t have a clip then a short bungee elastic is useful to maintain the chair in the folded position. By doing this you are removing the stress on the hinges and joints of the wheelchair frame. Finally, place the removable components in to the pockets in the wheelchair bag and ensure that no parts are sticking out or particularly in to the wheels or spokes.

    We also advise that wheelchair tyres are part deflated if it is due to be put in the hold. We have heard of examples of tyre pressure causing the tyres to burst when the pressure adjusts. This can be prevented by reducing that pressure but of course mans that you will need to carry a suitable wheelchair pump to ensure you can increase the pressure once you have landed.

    If you use a wheelchair cushion then we recommend taking an extra inflatable cushion which can be deflated and packed away with ease. If your main cushion is lost then you can use the inflatable wheelchair cushion and it can also come in handy during the flight itself.

    Finally we have found it a good idea to wear compression socks during the flight. As a wheelchair user your lower limbs may encounter poor circulation and the wearing of these socks is good for preventing leg swelling and helps the body to stay warm in colder weather.

  • Safe use of mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs

    When we read this we thought it was suitable to write a quick post although it doesnt relate directly to wheelchairs it does relate to electric wheelchairs.

    To many folk, the boundaries are a bit vague when it comes to what can be used on the pavements legally and safely, powerchairs, electric wheelchairs, scooters and e-bikes included.

    Having watched the recent news of a cyclist becoming prosecuted for causing the death of a pedestrian it shows that its not only cars and larger vehicles that can cause lethal damage and that some of the bigger mobility vehicles including scooters and electric wheelchairs are soon to come under closer scrutiny when it comes to use on pavements.

    All of these rules come under the broader heading of traffic laws and that includes electric wheelchairs and scooters. Ministers have been urged for some time to change these laws after alarming figures show an increase in the number of crashes involving mobility scooters and powerchairs.

    It is being suggested that the Highway Code needs to be reviewed to include the large number of unconventional vehicles on the roads and of course pavements. It comes about following an incident in Gosport Hampshire where a child was struck by a mobility scooter and dragged along a pavement suffering cuts and bruises.

    This incident is being described as hit and run although as he was walking with his family at the time i can’t see how this can be quite right as surely someone would have challenged the occupant of the scooter to resolve what had happened.

    When you have any wheeled vehicle sharing space with pedestrians then it makes sense to have some rules to ensure safety for all. Some scooters and electric wheelchairs are quite substantial in weight and can travel at speeds that could potentially cause damage to people or property.

    Perhaps some form of licensing is needed to regulate the use of smaller vehicles and differentiate between those that are required for genuine mobility reasons such as powerchairs and electric wheelchairs and those that are currently used out of convenience which includes some scooter users.

    As our towns and cities are getting busier it would make sense to restrict the use and speed of some of the larger and heavier non-conventional vehicles, leaving users of powerchairs and electric wheelchairs with true mobility issues to go about their business in a safe and dignant manner.

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