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Monthly Archives: November 2017

  • New tech for electric wheelchairs

    Electric wheelchairs have come a long way in the last 5 years with new developments in both battery technology and in control technology. These improvements are making powerchairs or electric wheelchairs far more user friendly and allowing their users the level of independence that they have wanted for some time.

    Gone are the days when your electric wheelchair would only have a range of 5 miles and would crawl along with that nagging suspicion that it was about to run out of juice. Today's wheelchair batter technology means that ranges of many power chairs exceed 15 miles while their cruising speed is a very healthy 4 mph.

    Electric wheelchairs are designed to be used both inside the home and work space but also outside making every day journeys too. It is this crossover which has often lead to problems when it comes to controlling the wheelchair.

    Most manufacturers opted for a joystick controller to allow the users to control direction of the powerchair. Over time these controllers became more advanced making electric wheelchairs easier to control and more manuvrable.

    Programmable controllers were the next progression and these allowed the wheelchair to be semi intelligent and change the reaction of the joystick controller in relation to the speed and direction of the powerchair. This improvement meant that a chair could only be manoeuvred within the safe limits of its directional speed. This stopped problems when an electric wheelchair was turned too abruptly at speed which lead to a lack of stability.

    Recent developments by some manufacturers have gone one step further in making their electric wheelchair models more user friendly and safe using three new technologies; touchscreen, Bluetooth and wireless.

    Inspired by healthcare professionals and wheelchair users alike the improvements have made some significant changes to the lives of many wheelchair users. These new technologies allow the wheelchair to effectively learn and adapt to driver habits over time to give a more consistent performance during the lifetime of the powerchair.

    Other improvements include better reporting so that users can see the health status of a powerchair including its battery status and potential range with ease by looking at their smartphone. Bluetooth pairing of the wheelchair to a smartphone also provides other benefits including the ability to remotely park the wheelchair when it is not in use. When it is needed once again the user can 'call; for the wheelchair and it will pull up alongside ready for the transfer.

    Other enhancements come in the form of motor control technology which ensue that the range of the electric wheelchair is maximised by efficient use of the wheelchairs motors. With all of this in mind the powerchair experience is set to improve dramatically in the very near future.

  • Billy's shoes for wheelchair users

    One of the more common ailments suffered by wheelchair users is the discomfort that can be suffered in the feet. For many folk you wouldn't expect being in a wheelchair would have an adverse effect on the users feet but it is a real problem and generally stems from badly fitting shoes that can impede proper circulation and discomfort.

    When you are in a wheelchair your feet remain stationary effectively for many hours and as a result the achilles area and ankles are prone to discomfort. It is these areas that are typically pinch points where the back of the shoe interferes with the wheelchair users feet. The other issue faced is of course getting the footwear on and off while in your wheelchair and there is no easy fix for this.

    Apart from reaching down to your feet being virtually impossible for many wheelchair users, actually tying a shoelace is also a problem for many with disabilities as they do not have the dexterity required.

    So along comes a wheelchair user with a solution who runs with the name of Billy Footwear ! Billy, a quad, started a venture with his friend back in 2015 to address exactly this and has come up with some revolutionary ideas to overcome the problem faced by too many wheelchair users.

    The key concept to Billy's invention is the use of zippers as shoe fasteners. For many wheelchair users the daily shoe routine is a hassle and not one that can be overcome despite learning all the independent living skills anyone has to offer. As a result the shoes look great and similar to any shoes unless you look closely to see the zip that runs along the top and side of the shoes. Laces are retained for cosmetic appearance only so you get the looks but not the hassle !

    Between Billy and his business partner Darin Donaldson, both of whom are wheelchair users they now have a range of shoes from sneakers to high-top shoes and cover men’s, women’s and children’s designs. These adaptive shoes are proving really popular with those who have used them and are attracting fantastic reviews by most. They are now for sale at Nordstrom and Zappos.com who have started a fresh range known as Zappos Adaptive, which covers adaptive clothing for those with disabilities and has many things that will improve independence and ease of life for those in wheelchairs.

    If you are a wheelchair user who might benefit from trying these shoes then why not click here !

  • What a brilliant idea someone had to start a holiday destination site for wheelchair users. Just like AirBnB, Accomable sets out to make accessible accommodation available to all users of wheelchairs so that they too can book a self-catering style break knowing that the usual challenges faced by wheelchair users are all under control.

    Typical mobility issues faced by wheelchair users are things like steps and stairs, beds that are either too high or too low, door ways that are too narrow, and lack of accessible bathrooms and toilets. Even when you book a wheelchair accessible hotel room you can still come unstuck with surprises that make your stay less than ideal.

    So it was really good to see that someone's bright idea might make things more doable for users of wheelchairs. That particular someone is Srin Madipalli, a former London solicitor who has spinal muscular atrophy and is hoping to change things for anyone with a physical disability so that they too can find and book accessible holiday accommodation.

    “I’ve always loved to travel but found the logistics of planning a trip with a wheelchair incredibly difficult,” Madipalli says. “I’d often arrive at an accommodation that was advertised as accessible only to find steps to the front door!”

    Wheelchair user Mr Madipalli is an Oxford graduate who worked as a solicitor for many years before wanting a change. He then decided to learn some programming skills to enable him to design the blueprint for the Accomable web site that is designed to change the holiday options for wheelchair users the world over. The original remit was to conquer the UK market and then Europe but recent developments show that the US is now being served with wheelchair friendly properties popping up in San Francisco and other states. Accomable now  lists more than 1000 places to stay in over 60 countries worldwide.

    TO ensure that Accomable meets the grade there is a remit that Mr Madipalli has set out:

    “Our minimum requirements are that each property must have step-free access, at least one step-free bedroom and bathroom, and that the step-free bathroom has at least one adaptation. We extensively list and verify each property’s accessible features, using photo and video technology, to offer as much information to our customers as possible,” he says. “We visit properties all of the time (some of our team are based abroad, too), and we often tap into the disabled community.”

    Wanting to go one step further than AirBnb Mr Madipalli has now broadened the horizons and is working on adding everything from accessible transportation to a fully organised holidays, with the ultimate objective of making Accomable a one-stop shop for mobility friendly travel.

    “Our mission is to help anyone go anywhere. We want to make vacations fun and stress-free, whether it’s your first-time holidaying in a wheelchair, you need additional care or are traveling as a family,” Madipalli says. “To do this, our ethos is to be as open and transparent as possible, giving our customers all the information, so they can find the right stay for their needs. Most people on our team have a mobility issue, so we understand the challenges our customers face.”

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