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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Wheelchair News

  • Check out the Freewheel

    Over the years we have seen many variations of the standard wheelchair where people have decided that they want or need something a little different for their mobility needs. These modified wheelchair have taken many forms and have generally been designed to cater for some specific requirement the wheelchair user might have. Others have been modified for the sake of it and simply to make a wheelchair that is a little different and that maybe expresses something about the user, a bit like the concept behind Izzy Wheels - wheelchair accessories.

    So it was with curiosity that we read last week about the Irish company who have recently been granted the exclusive distributorship for the 'FREEWHEEL' which is an attachment that converts a regular model in to an all terrain wheelchair allowing users to travel over rough terrain in relative safety.

    The Freewheel is an American invention that is being sold already in many other countries around the world. It is essentially a clamp-on third wheel that fits on to the foot plate of a rigid framed wheelchair and extends the wheelbase allowing it to cope with surfaces that would normally cause a problem to the user.

    Intended for self propelled wheelchairs, the Freewheel takes only a few seconds to fit and can be carried on board with ease when it is not required, allowing the wheelchair user to fit it as and when it is needed. It is claimed that rough tracks, lawns and plenty of other surfaces can be tackled with ease with the addition of this easy to fit wheelchair accessory. In addition to the rough surfaces it allows, the FreeWheel also makes curb climbing easier as its wheel has a far larger diameter than is found on self propelled models.

    When you buy the FreeWheel a kit is provided to allow you to customise the fitting clamp to marry up to your wheelchair. This ensures that is fits virtually all manual, rigid frame wheelchair footrests. It works so well by extending out of the front of the wheelchair by about 2 feet. This effectively lengthens the wheelbase which also spreads the load over an additional 5th wheel.

    Weighing in at only 5 lbs, the FreeWheel is lightweight and compact and yet transforms an ordinary wheelchair in to an all terrain model in seconds. Its oversized 'front' wheel pivots on its own swivel fork which allows you to steer your manual wheelchair as normal using the rear wheel hand rims. We will be looking in to this smart wheelchair accessory with interest to see if it takes off in Ireland.

  • Check out my wheels !

    Hats of to Izzy who is bravely going where no wheelchair user has ever been before ! Isabel Keane is the Brand Ambassador of an Irish company that sell custom wheelchair spoke guards that started only 9 months ago in September 2016. The company 'Izzy Wheels' has already sold hundreds of sets of wheelchair spoke guards in both the UK but also Worldwide.

    The easy to fit spoke guards are designed to be fitted to self propelled wheelchairs and span the entire wheel within the rim. The designs are many and varied and this is the attraction as wheelchairs are seen as medical devices and rarely are they made to look like anything else. Created by independent designers and illustrators these spoke guards turn a regular manual wheelchair into a fashion statement and offer a form of self-expression to the user.

    Wheelchairs do become part on the users identity - like it or not and this includes visually, practically on a day to day basis and psychologically. So being able to radically change the look of the wheelchair with ease and create a look and feel that you are content with is an amazing thing to do and totally transforms the meaning of that wheelchair to the user, plus the impression it has on everyone who sees it.

    All too often, because the wheelchair is marketed as a medical device they seem to bring negative connotations both to the user but also anyone who sees it and yet at core it is a source of liberation and freedom although to many the wheelchair is rarely seen as a symbol of independence. So for anyone to challenge this is a fantastic idea and provides an outlet for wheelchair users to express themselves and move away from the 'unfortunate wheelchair user' image that is so often felt. Even the notion that a wheelchair can be made to look fashionable is a nice change to the norm.

    “Izzy Wheels are so important to me because they draw such positive attention to myself and my wheelchair,” says Isabel Keane, Izzy Wheels’ Brand Ambassador. “I am no longer seen as ‘the poor unfortunate girl in a wheelchair’ by passers-by. I am now seen as a stylish person with cool wheels. They really reflect the relationship I have with my wheelchair… Wheelchairs help, they do not hinder a person and now they do not hinder a person’s fashion choices”.

    Although decorating wheelchair wheels is not entirely a new concept, Izzy Wheels are insistent on making this wheelchair transformation an affordable personal customisation. Other companies have sold plastic discs that clip on to the rear wheels but the designs have primarily targeted young children and the choice has been very limited. However this has changed and now the spoke guards from izzy Wheels start at just 99 Euros and are easier to fit to your wheelchair by the use of velcro straps making them easily interchangeable. This means that your wheelchair can have a quite different look from day to day and it can be 'dressed' to suit your attire and the occasion.

    Creative Director Ailbhe Keane states the obvious when she says that wheelchairs have looked the same forever “People have negative connotations with wheelchairs and associate them with sick or elderly people. A wheelchair can cost up to €10,000 and none of this goes towards the appearance of your chair. We want to give one of the world’s most underserved community of people the freedom to express themselves… Self expression is a right”.

    “Since launching, we realised the demand for personalization,” says the startup’s Creative Director. “We are currently working on a digital platform for Izzy Wheels called ‘Be-spoked’. This platform will give users the ability to build their own designs from a wide range of prints, colours, text and elements. We hope to launch this platform in the next few months”.

    We wish the team at Izzy Wheels all the best with this venture and more so we hope that wheelchair users of all ages recognise this affordable opportunity to pimp their ride and jazz up their wheelchair to reflect their style. Dont forget to find some inspiration for your wheelchair here.

  • Wheelchair ramps - what to look for when buying

    We sell a fairly wide range of wheelchair ramps and are frequently asked for advice on which ramp to buy. There are different styles of ramps for wheelchairs and each has its perks and is intended for a different type of operation and situation, so we decided it would be good to create a brief guide to explain the key differences between each model and point out which are best for manual and electric wheelchairs.

    So, when looking for the perfect wheelchair ramp it is worth considering these simple factors to ensure that you pick the right type and the right size.

    Ramp length

    For self propelled and transit wheelchair we advise that the maximum gradient for the ramp is 1:6.

    This means that in moving forward 6 feet you climb just one foot in height or in other words if you need to tackle a 1ft rise in your wheelchair, you will need a 6ft ramp to do so comfortably and safely. When it comes to electric wheelchairs you will need a lesser gradient to avoid the powerchair from grounding out as you mount the ramp due to their low ground clearance.

    Ramp Width

    This one is more obvious in that the wheelchair ramp needs to be wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair or powerchair yet narrow enough to fit into the threshold you are bridging.

    Once you have calculated the dimensions of the ramp that you require you can consider which of the styles suits your purpose best. Here are the most common types of wheelchair ramp:

    Threshold ramps

    These are most commonly used to bridge single steps and door thresholds and are typically made from aluminium or fibreglass and are rigid designs (that is they do not fold or roll-up). Often as not the surface has a tread plate finish or uses grip tape to ensure there is traction for the wheelchair.

    Channel ramps

    These are used mainly for access in to vehicles or up bridge steps and from two channels which help to keep the wheelchair moving in the right direction. Channel ramps for wheelchairs are often of portable design and are not intended to be fitted permanently. They tend to come in a variety of lengths but are not suitable for electric wheelchairs due to the side walls.

    Roll-up ramps

    As their name suggests, these wheelchair ramps simply roll up when not in use. Made using aluminium extrusion, the rollup wheelchair ramps are very convenient for those who travel frequently and need to take their ramps to their destination. Often supplied with a carry bag, these provide a quick and easy solution to access to buildings where steps are involved. These ramps suit manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs and scooters.

    Folding ramps

    These have become more sophisticated in recent years and now provide a truly portable solution for both manual and electric wheelchairs. As their name suggests, these ramps fold to halve their width meaning that they can then be transported with ease. Typically made from aluminium, these folding wheelchair ramps are lightweight and have an anti-slip grip surface togive good traction.

    There are folding ramps which fold both length ways and width ways and these are known asmultifolding ramps. The idea of these is to be a compact as possible to allow them to be transported and used where and when needed by the wheelchair user. These too are suitable for powerchairs and manual wheelchairs as long as they are rated to a sufficient weight. This weight has to include the wheelchair, the ser and sometimes the attendant also.

    Cross folding wheelchair ramps

    These are very popular for vehicle access as they folds to half their length, making the extremely easy to store. Typically made from aluminium they too are lightweight and have an anti-slip grip surface.

    Fixed ramps

    Fixed ramps or non-folding wheelchair ramps. As their name suggests, these ramps are simply a one piece rigid ramp that is full width to cater for both electric wheelchairs and manual models. Typically they have a lip or side walls to help contain the wheelchair. These are often shorter than other models and used in permanent locations to overcome lower rises. For occasional use they can be quick to setup and therefore useful if you have infrequent visits from a wheelchair user.

    If you want to know anything else about the wheelchair ramps that we sell please call us and we can advise on the best model for your needs.

  • Coming soon the Ogo electric wheelchair from down under

    Do you remember the Segway ? heralded as a new mode of transport back in 2001 it has now become the core of a new electric wheelchair concept thanks to the team who have designed it down in New Zealand.

    In the next month or two this new powerchair is due for release and will be available commercially for the first time. Described by occupational therapists as very exciting, the Ogo electric wheelchair is also described as a personal transportation system and combines the unique active moving seat control system with the very best of self-balancing technology to form a powerchair that can be controlled by body movements.

    Although the Ogo really doesn’t look like a regular electric wheelchair, it does however appear to fill a gap that exists for powerchair users who want a bit more freedom and something more challenging. It won't suit all electric wheelchair users although it may well massively enhance the lifestyle of many, allowing more freedom and more scope.

    If you are already thinking the Ogo electric wheelchair is not for you because it requires good use of your core muscles to steer it then don’t worry. This powerchair comes with a choice of three types of control, hands-free, seat steer or joystick control.

    The hands free capability is the big attraction to me. Most forms of mobility scooter and electric wheelchair require one or both hands to be in use all the time to drive and steer the mobility aid. With the Ogo both hands remain free, opening up a plethora of opportunities for sport and outdoor pursuits. In fact looking at their videos, you may want your hands to hang on as this electric wheelchair seems to be able to go places no other powerchair has ventured before !

    See more Ogo videos here

    By using your core and upper body muscles you are able to both steer and control the pace of the Ogo electric wheelchair. This balance requirement is what makes this powerchair different and for those who are able, it will help them to keep strength in their core muscles. When used in normal conditions on a footpath this requirement is fairly minimal. However, move to a more challenging terrain and you will need to brace yourself and hang on as the Ogo becomes an off road monster that can go just about anywhere, with the ability to tackle soft sandy surfaces, loose gravel, rough terrain and steep inclines. In relative the Ogo powerchair is relatively small and light in weight yet it is potentially faster than most other powered mobility devices and electric wheelchairs.

    The Ogo seems to beat traditional powered wheelchair is many ways. Firstly it has a huge range, potentially up to 40 km / 24.8 miles on a single charge. Secondly it achieves reasonable speeds of 20 kph / 12 mph which is far greater than any other production electric wheelchair on the market. SO where can the Ogo be used ? It is designed to be used for where ever pedestrians can access. It can be used as a primary or secondary wheelchair, medical aid, a toy, a piece of sports and recreational equipment.

    What is nice about the way the Ogo is being marketed is that it is not simply a piece of mobility equipment nor an electric wheelchair. Instead it is being promoted to able bodied folk as well as those with disabilities, which, when you think about its removes stigma attached to using a mobility aid such as a powerchair. If folk who are not wheelchair users become frequent users then any user of the Ogo will not be assumed to be disabled nor a wheelchair user.

    One restriction of the Ogo is the weight restriction of 110 KG which equates to about 17 stone, however there are plans afoot to make a model for heavier users. In the UK the speed will be restricted to in the United Kingdom it is limited to 4mph/6.5 kph.

    Ogo  state Ogo is not just about the users. Family and friends of those who have trialed the Ogo love it too. They have told us that their homes are a happier and healthier environment - that Ogo means more freedom and independence for them and increased opportunities to get back into activities they had given up - walking the bush trails, rediscovering the  beaches and parks, shopping. Just participating in life with their partners. “Grabbing life by the wheels”.

    So if you are in the market for a new electric wheelchair and can afford to wait a month or two then you might like to consider the Ogo ! Or if you are looking for a more regular powerchair please visit here.

  • Just whistle for your electric wheelchair !

    When staff at the hospital in Israel found themselves wasting time collecting electric wheelchairs for their patients one of them decided it would be good if you could beckon for your electric wheelchair like you would a well-trained dog and it would come to you. Then they invented Chair Call !

    Now they have just that, powerchairs and electric wheelchairs that are commanded by an app on their mobile phones allows them to call their chair from within near distance.

    A team of experts at the Jerusalem hospital developed the device now called 'Chair Call' to help improve the quality of life for wheelchair users.

    Alyn Rehabilitation Hospital for disabled children near Haifa north of Tel Aviv developed the app and the associated device that brings electric wheelchairs to their users like well trained dogs at their beck and call.

    The device fits easily on to the joystick of the electric wheelchair and the application installs on to a tablet of mobile phone. The cost of this small device is under £15 making it very affordable for a powerchair user and making their life easier by way of having their electric wheelchair to hand at all times.

    Acting like a remote control, the device allows you to call your electric wheelchair. Often as not powerchairs are stores out of the way when the user is in bed or in another chair. So to be able to call you wheelchair when it is needed is a very attractive proposition and will make many users lives easier.

    The development team is headed by Hila Borel and includes specialists in paediatric rehabilitation.

    Other volunteers from Intel and various techie organizations recently won the prize for outstanding social development from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. They developed the electric wheelchair friendly device when theory recognised the need of the children treated at the hospital.

    Alyn Hospital is dedicated to helping physically disabled children to become more independent and use technology as part of their remit. Locally this system can be fitted to an electric wheelchair for just 60NIS or under £20.

  • NHS nurse heroe works from electric wheelchair

    We recently read of the British nurse who is believed to be the first working nurse to operate from a wheelchair. Michelle Quested qualified as a nurse in 2004 and began her nursing career as an able bodied nurse in frontline operations at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

    However in 2010 she was involved in a car accident that eventually left her in an electric wheelchair. 4 weeks after the accident, two of her spinal discs ruptured and crushed her spinal cord meaning that she lost mobility and was forced in to a wheelchair. Determined for this not to affect her chosen career Michele adopted the attitude that ‘But nurses are born to be nurses – and I wasn’t going to let being in a wheelchair stop me.’ So she set about getting an electric wheelchair adapted to allow her to work effectively.

    She used a manual wheelchair away from work however this was not suitable due to the use of her hands interacting with the wheels meant that she risked contaminating her patients after taking a more hands-on clinical role.

    Her electric wheelchair has been modified to some extent to allow her to work effectively. The changes to the wheelchair cost in the region of £1800 and included changes that make the wheelchair slightly narrower to make it more maneuverable.

    At the age of 33 Michele appears to be the only electric wheelchair user working as a nurse, ‘I cannot find any other frontline nursing staff in the UK who use a wheelchair, after doing a lot of research,’ she said.

    Michelle underwent surgery and several months of rehabilitation after which she could still only move her big toe. It was then that a consultant told her she was unlikely walk again.

    It was then that Quested decided she would be ‘the best possible wheelchair user I could be’ – and decided to go back to work.

  • The PW-1000XL lightweight folding electric wheelchair is here

    Naidex mobility show was held last week and mobility product suppliers of all natures were airing their new wares.

    One product that does shine above others is the all new Foldawheel PW-1000XL folding electric wheelchair which is heralded as the lightest and most advanced power wheelchair on the market. It seems to combine the best of all features that most folk look for in an electric wheelchair, namely the ability to fold with ease, lightweight construction making it easy to carry or lift in to a car boot or on to a bus and suitability to larger or heavier users coping with user weights of up to     150kg (330 lbs).

    We hope to be selling this reasonably priced electric wheelchair very soon and think that it will prove very popular thanks to its strong feature line up. The frame of this power wheelchair is made from aircraft grade aluminium which guarantees one thing and that is strength but allow the wheelchair to remain lightweight.

    The PW-1000XL powerchair seat width is 19" making it wider than the average wheelchair seat. It comes as standard with one battery which provides a range of 13km from a single charge. However, a second or even third battery can be added at extra cost, giving this electric powerchair a potential range of up to 39km or 24 miles from one charge. The charge time for a single battery is just 4 hours.

    Other great features include a brushless electric motor which not only provides more power but also has an extended lifespan over a traditional electric motor that is used in many electric wheelchairs, making it 50% more efficient.

    With a very quick folding action, rigid tyres front and back, twin 250watt motors and a very comfortable seat, this folding electric powerchair seems to have it all. So watch this space and we hope soon to have the Foldawheel powerchair in stock very soon !

  • Wheelchair user completes marathon

    Carl is no stranger to grueling physical challenges in his wheelchair. But this week end he and his wife completed the Manchester marathon in his wheelchair and propelled himself the whole of the 26 mile course taking the somewhat undulating route in his stride.

    Carl, who was born with Spina Bifida, has never let his condition limit his activities and has always enjoyed a challenge in his wheelchair. The unstoppable part time football coach has previously raised thousands of pounds for his football club the Skem Men-Aces Football Club in Skelmersdale , which was specifically set up for adults with learning disabilities.

    After the gruelling marathon even Carl said “I truly cannot believe that today and with my missus that I did the Greater Manchester Marathon 26.2 miles.

    “I’ve never been so physically and mentally exhausted in my life and that was the most demanding thing on my body that I’ve ever done.”

    No stranger to such challenges, Carl has previously won both the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Groups and a BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for his impressive efforts in his manual wheelchair.

    He said: “Between nine and 13 miles I had decided to call it a day but with huge encouragement from a fabulous crowd, Mim and the Skem Men-Aces, I managed to snatch away at each mile.

    “The hills were absolutely ridiculous at times and so soul destroying. “My wife Mim and I cried buckets as we crossed the finish line to rapturous applause, it was so emotional.

    “The people of Manchester were brilliant. They really kept us going with Jelly Beans and encouragement.

    “I’ll take my hat off to anyone that is thinking of doing a Marathon and shake their hands from now on.

    “Unbelievably I am closer to my target of £10,000 and that has made it so worth it.

    “I am in incredible pain but think a couple of pints in the Plough and Harrow pub in Skelmersdale will sort me out!

    Carl was the only entrant to the marathon in  a wheelchair. His drive and energy towards everything is so impressive. He formed the football team in 2009 and it now has over 50 members with varying disabilities including several wheelchair users.

    Although wheelchair half marathons are not so rare, entire marathons require an enormous amount of effort and commitment. Carl completed his marathon in a fairly standard self-propelled wheelchair as opposed to the specialist wheelchairs that you see in wheelchair racing at the Olympics for example. To see more about the world wheelchair marathon schedule click here.

    Well done Carl for such a tremendous effort and completing a massive 26.3 miles in your wheelchair. Your pint is well deserved !

  • Wheelchair Man Superhero

    What an interesting story it was to read when i heard about wheelchair man superhero ! a comic book character created by an injured Afghan child who was left paralyzed after his house was hit by a bomb and is now reliant on his wheelchair.

    This story, albeit true is both interesting and compelling and shows the real strength of character of the boy known as Mohammad Sayed. Mohamed, no a US citizen designed a comic book superhero - Wheelchair Man - based on his own life story.

    His mother died when he was just 5 or 6 years of age, a short time later he was seriously injured leaving him disabled and in need of treatment and a wheelchair. He was abandoned by his father who left him in the care of the hospital which was run by a team of 500 Italian medics. His spinal cord damage means that he will never walk and that a wheelchair was going to be a way of life for him.

    While in hospital he was asked to pay for his own food and clothes, so he started a small business repairing cell phones which eventually lead to him inventing a series of wheelchair accessories.

    After 7 years in the hospital Mohamed’s life took a change and he was adopted by a US citizen and taken to the states in his wheelchair still aged only 12. In his early days in the US he received medical treatment to straighten his spine.

    A few years on he began to learn a bit about engineering which was the start of his career in making wheelchair accessories. It started by him scouring the Internet for things to fit to his wheelchair but noticed quickly that many wheelchair accessories were over engineered and therefore overpriced.

    So Mohamed started designing his own inventions that included a cup-holder, a tripod for his camera and a canopy to keep the sun and rain off, all of which attached to his wheelchair. What was different here was that his wheelchair accessories were designed by a wheelchair user for wheelchair users. As he points out many of these products are designed to be fitted to the back of the wheelchair and therefore only in reach of the attendant and not the wheelchair user.

    Then something big happened, somehow the White House heard about his antics and he was invited to the 2015 White House Science Fair and presented to President Obama. This publicity catapulted him in to the spotlight where he has been able to continue his development of wheelchair gadgets on a commercial basis and the development of his beloved Wheelchair Man fictional character.

    Inspired by different comic characters - Spider Man and Iron Man he noticed the absence of any superheroes that represent the wheelchair community. "This is the greatest country, how is it possible that they have no wheelchair superhero?" he said.

    He wanted to celebrate the skills, powers and capabilities that wheelchair users have, so Mohamed started to create a superhero called Wheelchair Man based on his own real-life story.

    His character Wheelchair Man is a teenager, he's an immigrant and he's a Muslim. Hi s plan is to develop a comic book series to inspire people with disabilities. Wheelchair man is against hatred and he wants to end violence and make this world a better place. But he already has plans for more ! including Wheelchair Woman, Wheelchair Girl, Wheelchair Boy and Captain Afghanistan ! all of whom will be based on the real lives of wheelchair users from developing countries.

    We wish him luck and look forward to catching site of his wheelchair hero publications.

  • Did you see the mannequal wheelchair this week ?

    You may have seen a wheelchair prop in a shop window on the news this week, the Mannequal news story is about the wheelchair model that has been used in the window of a a couple of shops in Londons prestigious Oxford Street.

    First seen back in 2012 on the run up to the London Olympics, the wheelchair prop is the handy work of Sophie Morgan who uses a wheelchair herself since losing the use of her legs in a car crash at the age of 18.. The 'Mannequal' acts both as a wheelchair for mannequins but also as a style guide wheelchair users and a symbol of inclusivity.

    One of several designs she has created, the mannequal wheelchair is a symbol of disability which Sophie chooses to use as a reference point to raise the profile of people with disabilities and hep to get the wheelchair noticed and accepted in a busy high street setting.

    Sophie refers to inclusivity and hopes that by placing a wheelchair prop in the windows of a shop will help show that people with disabilities are welcomed, considered and that their needs are catered for.

    It was Adidas who first displayed the mannequal wheelchair props back in 2012 but as Sophie points out, they were rather quick to drop it and remove the wheelchairs once the games were over. In total there were 3 wheelchair props in one store on Oxford St at one point which gave great exposure for the cause and made Sophie very happy.

    It is estimated that the purple pound is worth £249 billion on the UK and that disabled customers could bring as much as £420 million per week in the UK. Sophie’s campaign is twofold, as not only does she want to raise awareness of the wheelchair and disability but also help to unleash the spending power that is available.

    Sophie points out that to have a wheelchair mannequin is not so strange and that you see models of different shapes sizes and colour so why should the wheelchair be so different ?

    If you want to read more why not check out Sophies blog where you can see the wheelchair prop here

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