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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Wheelchair News

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    For an in-depth listing of mobility suppliers of all types please visit the UK Mobility Directory

  • Paralympics London 2012

    With the London 2012 Olympics now over, we focus on the Paralympic Games which is proving to be more popular than ever expected with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) confirming that a record 2.1 million Paralympic tickets were sold 3 weeks before the start of the event!

    With more interest there also seems to be a want for a better understanding on how the classification system works.

    Classification is a unique element of Paralympic sports, intended to ensure fair competition. As each sport at the Paralympic Games requires different skills and competencies, the impact of impairment on the performance of the athletes varies. That’s why each sport has its own unique classification rules.

    We will of course be following the 4 wheelchair events including wheelchair basketball - a personal favourite, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and finally wheelchair tennis, which has grown massively since 1976 when it was started by Brad Parks.

    Wheelchair tennis has proven so popular by both competitors and spectators alike that it has grown at an amazing rate: now fully integrated into all four Grand Slam Tennis events, and with more than 170 tournaments on the ITF’s own Wheelchair Tennis Tour, it is more popular than ever.

    Wheelchair basketball was developed by American World War II veterans as part of their rehabilitation programme, but its popularity soon spread around the world and is enjoyed widely by television audiences around the world as it provides some pretty seriously competitive action at a dazzling speed.

    We hope you ll get the chance to enjoy your share of these fantastic paralympics.

  • Paralympics wheelchair tickets row

    The organisers of the Paralympic Games have been accused of discriminating against the disabled by making wheelchair users book tickets for events via business rate phone lines.

    Those trying to book wheelchair tickets or check their availability can only do so by calling an 0844 number costing up to 41p a minute, while able-bodied people can buy their tickets online from organiser Locog without incurring extra costs.

    The arrangements have caused outrage among some disabled people who say they have been kept on hold for long periods of time running up large bills before being told there are no seats available.

    Many have complained about the situation on blogs and social networks with a Facebook campaign group called “Stop the Olympics from discriminating against wheelchair users!” attracting close to 700 members.

    The London 2012 website has a specific section for disabled people wanting to buy tickets to the Paralympics, which start on Wednesday.

    It says: “If you require a wheelchair space, you will be able to purchase one, subject to availability, by calling 0844 847 2012.”

    According to communications regulator Ofcom, 0844 calls are charged between 1p and 13p per minute for landline customers. Calls from mobile phones are typically charged between 15p and 41p per minute, depending on the network provider.

    Nicola Carlin said she called the ticket hotline more than 20 times on her Orange mobile phone, which charges 40p per minute, and on some occasions spent up to half an hour on hold.

    The children’s nurse, whose disabled five-year-old Matthew suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair,said: “I can’t understand why the organisers made it so difficult for people like us to get tickets. There’s no mention on the phone line of how much it costs, and people like me who have been desperate to get tickets would have held on for ages.”

    The 31-year-old, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, eventually got through, but added: “The Paralympics, of all occasions, should be making it easier for disabled people to enjoy sport, not putting up barriers such as this.”

    Wheelchair user Sarah Bard, 32, said she called the hotline from her specially adapted mobile phone six times and was each time put on hold for up to 15 minutes. She has now given up attempting to buy tickets.

    Ms Bard, from Nottingham, said: “It is discriminatory towards the disabled.”

    People have also criticised Locog’s policy that states wheelchair users can only be accompanied by one other person per ticket.

    An online petition has been set up by Beth Davis-Hofbauer calling for the rules to be changed and has attracted nearly 40,000 signatures.

    The disabled mother-of-two said she wanted to sit with all of her family but was stunned to find out it was not possible.

    “I cannot believe that this event, designed to inspire a new generation of athletes, has a discriminatory ticketing policy,” she added.

    On its website, Locog says it has created a ticketing process which is “inclusive and accessible”.

    A Locog spokeswoman said: “All spectators were able to apply for tickets online for more than a year. From November 2011, we provided a bespoke phone line to ensure customers could discuss their individual accessibility needs.

    “We are proud to do more for spectators with accessibility needs than any other sporting event in this country.

    “We offer free Games mobility scooters at Games venues, free blue badge parking, and a free companion seat for every wheelchair space.”

  • Poor weather for wheel chairs

    We all know the weather has been lousy for a long time and we're all fed up of the continual rain. Now the bad weather and rain is making things worse on the roads and pavements.

    We wrote about the poor conditions of our pavements about a year ago when things were already pretty bad but now its getting serious as a result of weeks if not months of rain.

    According to the BBC, pavements throughout the country still prove a battlefield for many wheelchair and mobility scooter users so some have got together to tackle the problem.

    A group has got together in Wiltshire to highlight the problem still faced for many users in towns and city centres.

    But the problem is not just confined to Wiltshire.

    Despite legislation being in place, the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced in 1995 and superseded by the Equality Act in 2010, the issue of access remains.

    Both Acts made it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport.

    It remains difficult though to change cities, towns, buildings and streets which have been around for much longer.

    Gwen Trigle, 77, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, has used a mobility scooter for eight years.

    Bumpy ride
    "It is a very roundabout route that I have to take to get into town and I have to bump up and down the kerbs along the way," she said.

    "There are no dropped kerbs on what would be my direct route into town."

    She added: "We want to make the council more aware of how difficult it is for people."

    Sue Bott is the chief executive of the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL).

    She said: "The Disability Discrimination Act means that provisions are required so people are not discriminated against.

    "But it seems the onus is on the individual to complain rather than being taken on board as part of the course, which is wrong."

    She believes access is improving for wheelchair and mobility scooter users but it does remain a significant problem across the country.

    "Despite legislation access remains really patchy, it's not just the pavements but it is in the shops too, the steps, the heavy doors and the displays.

    National problem
    "Then there's public transport, there had been some progress but there is a long way to go."

    James Harding from the charity organisation Leonard Cheshire agrees there is still much more to do.

    "This a national problem. Pavements and access is the main issue raised by all the local groups we help.

    "It can be dangerous, the state of some pavements with pot holes and the lack of dropped kerbs."

    He added: "A lot of regulations are only met with the minimum requirements which doesn't help much at all.

    "With the economic climate and council cuts the money just isn't there at the moment to make improvements."

    A spokesperson at the Department for Transport said: "It is a decision for local authorities to put in place paving that is suitable.

    "If people feel there is a problem then they can raise it and of course it will be addressed."

    Sue Bott backs the group in Marlborough making a stand: "Highlighting the issue always works. This is very useful, so many people are not aware because they can't put themselves into their positions.

    "Town planners need to work closely with those who use wheelchairs, they are after all the experts."

    If you are a wheelchair or scooter user and are experiencing the same problems we'd love to hear from you.

  • Skills for life

    Today is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day !

    Not a lot of folk know that ! but yes Friday the 20th of May is SCI day and this year it sees the launch of a new web site aimed at increasing awareness of spinal injuries.

    Back Up, the well known support organisation for people with spinal injuries has teamed up with Spinal Injuries Scotland and Spinal research to mark the day and the new web site which points out the frequency of serious spinal injuries which is three a day on average, thus the name.

    Back Up is a phenomenal organisation aimed at assisting SCI victims and getting them back on the road as soon as possible after their accidents. They are now running wheelchair skills courses to help wheelchair users to gain more independence - according to Tim Rushby-Smith, of the Back Up Trust "Life in a wheelchair isn't as limiting as you'd expect, once you've learned the moves"

    Tim’s story isn’t uncommon. He tells of his first time in a wheelchair and describes it as being euphoric having spent over a month in bed reflecting on how different things were going to be following his accident when he fell from a tree. Tim’s first wheelchair skills course was at Stoke Mandeville hospital, where he met trainer David Ball who was planning a fundraising push up Helvellyn, a 950–metre peak in the Lake District. Tim remembers that David was both relaxed and assured in his wheelchair and gave great inspiration to all who were on the wheelchair skills course.

    Five years on and Tim is now one of 28 Back Up Wheelchair instructors aiming hi to give that essential confidence boost to other generally new wheelchair users. The programme will be taken to all 13 spinal injury units in the coming weeks starting this month May. The wheelchair skills covered include the basics of a self propelled wheelchair including pushing forwards, backwards and turning. But also more complex moves such as pushing with one hand - a very useful skill and negotiating ramps and kerbs, going down and even up steps. This last one is not for all wheelchair users but does go to show what can be achieved by the younger stronger wheelchair users.

    As Tim comments he is relatively lucky in that he was active before his accident and already had the muscles required for good wheelchair control, he just lacked the skills that you need to manoeuvre easily in a wheelchair initially. Its estimated that one in five people with spinal-cord injury undergo rehabilitation in general hospitals and don’t always get specialist spinal rehabilitation or peer support. Back Up often send in trainers to boost the support victims get and provide intensive 3 hour wheelchair skills courses aimed at giving back as much independence as possible.

    Of course accidents happen to folk of all ages and Tim tells of the eldest attending one wheelchair course as being 96 years old whilst Kitty was just eight years old and attended in a very specialist children’s wheelchair to learn the basics and soon progressed to being a very agile wheelchair user.

    Numerous studies have shown the value of an active life to the long-term physical health of wheelchair users, but there are also important psychological implications to the role of confidence building. Developing independence is surely the first step towards rejoining wider society, and going back to work.

  • NuDrive breakthough

    NuDrive system for wheelchairs

    We were recently offered the chance to inspect the innovative new product from TGA that is attracting lots of attention from wheelchair users old and young. The NuDrive is a great new lever driven system that fits most self propelled wheelchairs enabling the user to propel themselves with the greatest of ease on level ground.

    Clearly a great deal of thought has gone in to the design of this wonderful new product. Designed by one of the UK's leading product design teams in association with the Aspire Centre for Disability Sciences at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, TGA seem to have got this completely right.

    NuDrive Wheelchair system a brilliant design from the UK

    A great deal of effort was made to listen to wheelchair users and their input was used from the initial design phase right thru to product testing and proto typing. The end result is very impressive and will definitely fulfil its goal of providing far more freedom to wheelchair users old and young alike.

    So how does the NuDrive system work ? Instead of gripping the wheel rims in the usual way to propel the chair, levers are used to propel the chair forwards and backwards as well as providing a very good braking
    system. Once a user becomes familiar with the NuDrive system they will find the level of maneuverability very impressive. Attention was paid during the development of the system to reducing the risk of harmful shoulder loading. As many self propelled wheelchair users are aware, shoulders pay a big part in their propulsion.

    Easy to install Fits most wheelchairs Wheelchair freedom

    The new lever driven system can help to reduce shoulder degradation and injury. NuDrive makes increased freedom available to almost all wheelchair users at an affordable price and its simple to fit by simply attaching the NuDrive to your existing wheelchair to start enjoying greater freedom !

    Suited to both indoor and outdoor use the NuDrive system was designed to help manual wheelchair users with a range of disabilities and medical issues. NuDrive can help you get you mobile – whether its trips to the shops, use at work in the house or as exercise outside. Users who we spoke with were very impressed and also commented on the thoughtful design of this user-lead product especially the design that allows unhindered removal of the wheels for transport. The other comment that we heard time and time again was the ease with which this system can be fitted without any need for change of the wheel configurations. Once assembled the unit can be left in place and is relatively lightweight.

    The overall opinion is that the NuDrive system is going to change the lives on many self propelled wheelchair users.

  • Power packs

    We frequently receive calls from people enquiring about electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Often people are looking for occasional use so we will often point them towards the wheelchair power packs.

    Although they do not match the performance of scooters or powered wheelchairs, power packs do suit many users. They are often used as an assistance to the user or their attendant to enable them to tackle hills or to go out for longer periods without getting tired.

    Wheelchair power packs come in two broad varieties - single wheeled and dual wheeled. Choosing which option to go for is based on two main criteria, firstly the need of the users. Is it for occasional use or more full time. The second question that we ask is the users weight. Some power packs are more powerful and will carry the weight of larger users up moderate hills without any loss of performance. The smaller units and single wheel power packs may struggle if the load is too heavy or the hill too steep.

    Finally the main benefit of the dual wheel power pack is traction. With two wheels doing the driving means that there is more surface area in touch with the road or floor. Where conditions are slippery the dual wheel version is more likely to find the traction needed.

    Twin wheel power packs

    All models offer a variety of control. The twin Wheel Wheelchair power pack made by Roma Medical provides more traction and variable speed settings allowing the attendant to control the speed, it also has a reverse gear giving greater maneuverability. This particular model is suitable for users up to 21 stone. This model is intended for the attendant to take control.

    Finally the Twin wheel wheelchair power pack by TGA is a very impressive unit that will provide up to 10 miles on a single charge. Made in the UK this model is proving to be one of our best selling wheelchair powerpacks.

    Single wheel power packs

    The TGA single wheel wheelchair power pack suits a maximum user weight of 18 stone, has simple handlebar controls and is very simple to fit allowing the attendant to vary speeds depending on conditions.

  • Powerchair choice and selection

    Things to look for in an electric wheelchair

    There is a widening range of electric wheelchairs being made available thanks to the rapid development of efficient batteries and electric motors. As the range widens, so does the choice of type electric wheelchair, so we thought it about time to classify them into the following types:

    Front Wheel Drive electric wheelchairs

    The least common type of electric wheelchairs are front wheel drive. They are a good all-rounder and work well in most types of moderate terrains, slopes and surfaces. They can be used for outdoor and indoor situations and for most provide adequate performance.

    Central Wheel Drive electric wheelchairs / 6 wheelers

    The big advantage of these electric wheelchairs is their tight turning circle and ease of maneuverability.
    These electric wheelchairs are well suited for new users or short term users and are best suited to indoor use where easy maneuverability is essential. Their clever design means not only do you get tight turning but also increased stability thanks to the front and rear castors that prevent tipping in all directions.

    Rear Wheel Drive electric wheelchairs

    Most electric wheelchairs one sees today are rear wheel driven. This is simply because its easier to manufacture an electric wheelchair when the motor is near to the drive wheels to remove the need for drive shafts. Suitable for use both indoor and outside the rear wheel drive electric wheelchairs are likely to
    remain the most common due to lower costs of parts and manufacture. The turning circle is larger than for front or centre driven models. If you encounter inclines in your daily rounds to consider rear anti tipper wheels to prevent the chance of tipping backwards.

    Heavy Duty electric wheelchairs

    Its a fact that as a society average weights are increasing and obesity is more common. For this reason, manufacturers continue to develop heavy duty or bariatric electric wheelchairs to cater to this market sector. These tend to have increased strength of construction, larger batteries and more powerful electric
    motors to deal with the increased payload.

    Features to look for

    Comfort is key for most electric wheelchair users. If you are due to spend many hours per day in your electric wheelchair then getting suitable seat height, backrest height, seat width and armrest features are paramount.

    Types of chair vary. Some will swivel to allow ease of sitting and raising. Some seat also tilt up to 45 degrees again making sitting and raising more simple. Armrests that fold up or flip away must also be considered to allow ease of transfer on to and off the electric wheelchair.

    Another important part of the electric wheelchair is the type of control system used to propel and direct.
    Most are based on joystick control and are increasingly simple to use as the components become more reliable and configurable to suit your needs. If you are unable to control the electric wheelchair using your arms or hands then there are other control systems that rely on cues from your head or upper body.

    See our range of electric wheelchairs and powerchairs here

    We suggest that you consult a qualified physiotherapist and or mobility advisor if you have specific requirements or are unsure of which type of electric wheelchair is best for you. Good luck with all the freedom these mobility aids provide !

  • Beacon wheelchair dancers

    Zumba dance craze now attracts wheelchairs !

    I was amazed when i watched Beacons Wheelchair Dancers to see just how mobile and graceful wheelchair dancing can be. If you want to see it for yourself, they are performing at this year’s ‘Zumbathon' which is being held on Saturday the 9th of April at the Zumba Party of the Year at the Derwent Hotel, Belgrave Road, Torquay.

    The Beacons was formed 25 years ago and currently has 40 very active members. The Beacons motto is that they believe that anyone can dance, regardless of any disability that he or she may have. In addition to wheelchair dancers, Beacon welcome anyone along and have some members who attend with walking frames and Zimmer frames. Members of all ages attend their regular meetings at The Sports Hall, South Devon College, Vantage Point, Long Rd, Paignton.

    Everyone is welcome along to the Zumbathon including you !If you need a little help to push your wheelchair then it can be arranged. It is all aimed at having fun regardless of any disability. The Zumbathon is just one example of how many wheelchair users get stuck in and help themselves and others as they help to raise much needed funds for Families for Children Adoption Agency.

  • Daredevil stuntman breaks all records

    Another wheelchair world record !

    Head over wheels one newspaper has called it on their headline, describing the antics of wheelchair user daredevil stuntman as he goes for the most challenging ramp jump ever attempted and yes he pulled it off achieving a complete double back flip in a wheelchair.

    Launched from a 50ft ramp, adrenaline junkie Aaron Fotheringham has done what most of us would think is the impossible in a wheelchair and seeing the pictures in the press today really beggars belief. His jump has won him world wide acclaim for the stunning wheelchair stunt and what makes it most impressive is that he is a teenaged Spina Bifida sufferer and is entirely wheelchair bound.

    The plan for Aaron is to do a tour displaying his wheelchair stunts. The first display is at a Nitro Circus show in his hometown of Los Vegas tomorrow the 4th of June where he plans to amaze crowds with this and other amazing wheelchair stunts. The extreme sports event attracts many different types but this does seem to be a genuine first for any show.

    The ramp used for this amazing wheelchair extravaganza is usually used by BMX riders who carry out similar aerial acrobatics on bicycles. Taking it one step further Aaron leans backwards in to a back flip before he returns to earth landing on two wheels of his specially designed lightweight self propelled wheelchair.

    What can you do with your self propelled wheelchair ?

    Aaron has successfully attempted other wheelchair stunts previously but none as impressive as this one which is thought to be a world first. Aaron, a self confessed adrenalin junky started his antics at skate parks as a small child but as his condition worsened he adapted his style to include his wheelchair. When interviewed recently he added that he could always do the same tricks as the other kids but from his wheelchair, he says: "I grew to like my chair because it was like having a skateboard with me all the time.' See pictures and video of the great wheelchair stunt here

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