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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

News

  • Mans best friend helps wheelchair user in trouble

    We all know that dogs are mans best friend and frequently we see examples of why this is and how dogs can help. Many of us wheelchair users are dog lovers too and share companionship in many ways. A friend told me to look out for something quite amazing that occurred recently in flooded Russia where mans best friend was at it again, this time helping the man in the wheelchair navigate the roads / rivers.

    Wheelchair user helped by his trusty hound:

    [embed]https://youtu.be/00GozdnJLTQ[/embed]

    You may ask why was the man not assisted by passing motorists but it seems he is happy making progress in his wheelchair and waves the traffic on !

  • Sad loss of wheelchair sportsman Chris Hallam

    Known as 'Shades', Chris Hallam was probably one of the better known
    pioneers of disabled sport and unfortunately died last month.

    Chris Hallam MBE mastered many disabled sports  following a motorcycle
    accident that left him paralysed below the chest. Best known for swimming
    and wheelchair racing in the late eighties and early nineties, Chris was a
    much respected character who was often described as flamboyant.

    Chris was in his late 40s and lived in South Wales for most of his life. He
    was probably best known for wheelchair racing and won the London marathon on two occasions.

    Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson called him an "icon in wheelchair sport" and is
    one of very many who claim he was a massive inspiration to make them compete
    in disabled sports. He had marathon victories in Paralympics in Seoul,
    Atlanta and Barcelona.

    Chris didn't sit still for long and was in the spot light in the late
    eighties for his around Wales wheelchair ride which raised funds for the
    centre for the disabled at Cardiff University.

    Following his achievements in disabled sport, Chris took to coaching and
    concentrated on a number of wheelchair racers from Wales as part of their
    academy system.

  • All change for the wheelchair access icon ?

    I read with some amusement the other day that after forty something years some Americans have decided that the widely used blue wheelchair access icon is up for a revamp.

    The new wheelchair access icon

    The stick figure in the wheelchair has long been the immediately recognisable sign that designates an area or a facility as being friendly to wheelchair users. Whether its disabled toilet doors, parking bays or virtually every public building in the Western hemisphere, the blue wheelchair icon has worked for decades so why the need for change I wonder ?

    A group calling themselves AIP or accessible icon project seem to think its about time that the stick man was given a racier look more in line with the recently popular Paralympics. The designs they have put forward follow the existing theme of the wheelchair user but have leaned him or her forward to suggest they are propelling themselves in their wheelchair with great gusto.

    They comment on their website -
    www.accessibleicon.org

    "Its arms and legs are drawn like mechanical parts, its posture is unnaturally erect, and its entire look is one that makes the chair, not the person, important and visible."

    The new look icon that they propose started its life as a piece of urban art on the campus of a nearby college where it was used alongside and overlaying the existing icon.

    Take a look for yourself wheelchair users and see what you think ! Currently there is comment around the globe that the new icon may be used and most folk are betting on the Big Apple as the first place that may see it used extensively.

  • Injured rugby player awaits new sports wheelchair

    When we hear of yet another sportsperson who has been badly injured whilst playing their chosen sport it always saddens us. Many youths each year are injured badly enough to leave them wheelchair bound with varying degrees of disability.

    When we heard about one particular Northern teenager who broke his neck whilst playing rugby we were amazed to hear of his brave comments on how it is "the best thing that had ever happened to him" as he has now set his goal on becoming a wheelchair rugby paralympian. Such strength of character and signs of determination are not seen very frequently.

    16 year old George from Blackburn in Lancashire has recently been offered a new specialist wheelchair to help him meet his goals. London's Rosslyn Park injury trust fund have agreed to supply a customised specialist wheelchair from their fund which is there to help people injured whilst playing rugby. He expects to receive the new chair ahead of their match against Flyde on November the 2nd.

    Sports wheelchairs are very specialist items and are often designed to meet the exacting requirements of the individual user. Typically ultra lightweight and super strong the wheelchair frames and components are often made using aluminium and carbon composites to ensure that they are fit for the on the pitch action and will withstand the knocks and tumbles experienced in wheelchair rugby.

    We wish George who is eagerly awaiting delivery of the new chair all the best and hope that he provides inspiration for others who have had the misfortune of similar life changing injuries.

  • Wheelchair skills video

    Pete Donelly's recent news video for the BBC 'Top Tips for Wheelchair users' is a great watch for wheelchair users and others alike. Giving a real insight in to the daily life of wheelchair users Pete seems to have adapted brilliantly and copes with virtually all conditions of a normal city life.

    Pete suffered paralysis following a motorbike accident at the age of 19 when a T6 back brake ended his walking life. This doesn't seem to have stopped Pete one little bit and his video shows this. He covers many aspects including self propelled wheelchair technique, including posture and self transfer in to and out of the wheelchair in seconds !

    Watch his wheelchair skills video here

    His self propelled wheelchair is a bit specialist and would suit only the younger more agile wheelchair user but does allow him to conquer all sorts including flights of stairs. The video includes some tips for more active wheelchair users including the back wheel balance which, as he points out is an important start to a number of daily manoeuvres including going up and down kerbs, ramps and steps. His agility and control is very impressive and while he is young and has good upper body strength, being in a wheelchair isn't going to prevent him from missing out on much.

    As Pete says his wheelchair skills allow him to live the kind of life he wants to live, including of course going to the pub, the video shows Pete managing his pint whilst propelling himself back from the bar. By swapping hands from pint to wheelchair rim he makes it look so easy !
    His wheelchair is fitted with a video camera for the article and much of the footage is taken from this camera and gives a great perspective of the wheelchair in use and more so Pete's experience and control.

    In fact Pete's appetite for life is enormous and the accident and being wheelchair bound doesn't prevent much, including a parachute jump, his ambitious travel plans and recent trips to Asia and Bangladesh where he has worked as a volunteer. and This really is a must watch for wheelchair users and others - he's a great source of inspiration.

    Following various charity trips Pete now works for Back Up as a wheelchair skills adviser and i'm sure will make a huge difference to the younger more adventurous user of wheelchairs.

  • Fashion students help out

    Wheelchair users helped out by Fashion students

    I was sent this from an old friend in Oz and wondered if we have a similar scheme going on here in the UK.

    Design students in Queensland have created a new clothing collection designed specifically for wheelchair users, recognising that there is little choice and that many disabled people have a hard time finding clothes that are comfortable, look good and are practical in wheelchairs.

    wheelchair users clothing design

    Students from Brisbane's Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE have teamed up with the Spinal Injuries Association to create designs that are eye-catching and fit properly when using a wheelchair.

    Their collection has just been showcased in Brisbane.

    Katie Franz was 16 when a car accident left her unable to walk again.

    "Waking up in a hospital and being told that you'll never be able to walk again, you have to sit down in a wheelchair for the rest of your life, it really means that it's tracksuit pants and T-shirts," she said.

    "Really, who feels amazing in a baggy T-shirt and tracksuit pants?

    "You have to rebuild and you have to put all your pieces back and part of that is putting your individuality back together."

    Ms Franz says she has had a hard time finding things to wear, that are easy to put on, look good and are practical.

    "Things get caught in your chair, long dresses get caught in your front wheels, you can't wear high heels, it doesn't work," she said.

    Design challenge

    Fashion student Jackie Hall helped design a collection to overcome those problems and says it was a challenge.

    "They don't like velcro, because it's an old material I guess, it makes them look old," she said.

    "But they don't like buttons as well, so you had to think about all the other things that you could use instead of those things.

    "For Katie, as well, because she's a mum but she doesn't want to look like a frumpy mum, because she's still cool and active, it was cool to design her outfit to suit wheelchair use."

    Finbar Mills suffered a spinal injury in a dirt bike accident and says it can be frustrating finding practical clothes that work when you're in a wheelchair most of each day.

    "You want to not be rolling down the street and have a shirt riding up over your stomach or riding up your back, it's not a good look, no-one likes that," he said.

    "You do go through this new identity phase when you're in a wheelchair and when it first comes out because you're trying to re-understand who you are as a person.

    "What you're wearing and what you do is a good reflection of what it is you are."

    Rewarding experience

    He says the clothes the students have designed address many challenges he has faced.

    "The garments are a lot looser, a lot more comfortable and they actually sit quite well when you're in the chair," he said.

    "I'm a young guy, and I like to go out and have a bit of fun and I'm doing a lot of socialising, and you know you want to look good."

    Fashion student Jennifer Wilson says the project has been a rewarding experience.

    "It's really just that there is no market out there for them, and we had no idea about any of this before we came into this project," she said.

    "I had no idea that there was such problems with people in wheelchairs trying to get clothes that they feel good in.

    "Just to be able to bring something like that to somebody's life, give them self expression and that sort of thing, is such a good thing."

  • Wheelchair hurling in Ireland and beyond

    Over the last few years we get to hear of more sports being played by folk with disabilities and wheelchair users. When you hear of a new wheelchair sport you get a vague picture in your mind of how it may look but when we heard of wheelchair hurling being played by teams in Northern Ireland, I had no idea what to expect !

    Ryan O'Connor is one individual who hasn't allowed being a wheelchair user to prohibit from playing many sports. Starting out with wheelchair basketball Ryan soon realised that he was able to enjoy playing sport rather than just watching it. A couple of months ago he got in to hurling and now considers himself 'very active'.

    Ryan has two prosthetic legs and  has had a heart transplant and prefers to be in a wheelchair when playing these sports. His enjoyment and enthusiasm has lead him to helping others to participate and enjoy wheelchair sports and the social life that they bring. Ryan's involvement has allowed him to make many new friends both within the teams and off the pitch.

    Ryan's praise for his coaches is endless and his spirit is strong encouraging others to make the most and get out there and enjoy whatever sport you can. Wheelchair hurling is a relatively new sport in Northern Ireland starting just 6 months ago so we will be interested to see it develop and admire all those on the pitch and making it happen.

    Of the 3 clubs in existence, all the players have some form of disability, some with cerebral palsy and some forms of spina bifida and others like Ryan with missing limbs. Regardless of disability, the emphasis is very much on focusing on the ability they have to play the sport and enjoy themselves.

    We wish them all luck !

  • Can Google Glass help power chair users?

    Have you heard of Google Glass ?

    One of the more recent gadgets that's aiming to change things is the invention of google glass - yes a pair of glasses with a built in computer allowing you to do a multitude of things using just your eyes to control things and not your fingers !

    Efforts are already being made to use this device to help folk with disabilities thanks to Google Glass Explorer contest where techies and engineers alike are asked what they can do with this new gadget.

    One contestant has used eye tracking software that is based on a web cam to control various items including a wheelchair ! This makes the technology more realistically affordable as the glasses are within some users affordability. It will only work on powerchairs and takes over the control that is generally provided by the joystick assembly.

    Powerchair and electric wheelchair users will don the glasses and see many things including a visual controlled wheelchair throttle control, a stop function and of course steerage. These controls will allow most wheelchair and power chair users to go about their usual routes and leave their hands free if needs be

    The man who has applied this new technology is called Steve McHugh and he is hoping to win some funding to make this exciting new development for more electric wheelchair and powerchair users.

  • Hats off to Martyn

    Martyn Sibley completed his marathon wheelchair journey this week from John O'Groats in Scotland to Lands End in Cornwall - that's an incredible 874 miles, racking up to 40 miles in any one day in his electric wheelchair.

    Just one month after his departure, Martyn arrived at his destination having driven himself the whole way while his girlfriend cycled alongside.

    They encountered a mix of conditions including the inescapable driving rain and strong winds in some of the more exposed areas.

    Martyn who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy made the trip to raise money for charities but also to prove that with the right kit disabled people can be incredibly independent and can achieve incredible things as his journey points out.

    His powerchair suffered mechanical failure towards the end of his journey forcing them to make a diversion to South Wales for a free repair by the manufacturers. Other encounter included numerous near misses by impatient car drivers trying to pass them on some of the smaller roads.

    Martin and his partner both celebrated their 30th birthdays prior to the trip and are both very thrilled to have completed the trip having made so many memories and encountered much of the beautiful landscape of Britain.
    Martyn has always had big goals and has a habit of achieving them ! Including globetrotting in his mobility car with trips to Lithuania and Czechoslovakia in recent years.

    As editor to the Disability Horizon magazine Martyn has a busy life but continues to do great things to raise the profile of disabled people and was assisted on this mission by the National Lotteries Big Lottery to keep the spirit of the 2012 Paralympics.

  • Andy wins world wheelchair darts title

    41 year old Andy from Cornwall recently won the world wheelchair darts title after almost packing the game in a while ago. Amputee Andy Chilton was always a keen darts player and had always played from a standing position using his crutches.

    When he decided to enter for the World wheelchair darts tournament it meant he had to retrain to play darts from his wheelchair. Wheelchair users play from a standard oche but the bulls eye and indeed the whole board is lowered by 15 inches. This meant that there was a fair bit of change to get used to.

    Andy states "I had to learn where to throw and how to throw, I had to change everything, but I wasn't going to let it beat me." Like many sports there are good days and bad days and Andy who is shocked at the wheelchair win title said "It's unbelievable, it's only really just sinking in"

    Andy will now go back to playing both standing and wheelchair darts for his local club in Penzance called the Buffalo Club. You can read more here

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