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Wheelchair News

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  • Electric Wheelchair Review - Drive Medical Titan

    Continuing with our review of electric wheelchairs we have this week been spending some time with the Drive Medical Titan powerchair to see how it fairs against the competition in the electric wheelcahir market. As with our Cirrus powerchair review in January we will be looking at the chair from many perspectives with a view to giving it a final rating.

    Starting with maneuverability, this motorised wheelchair has a a good basic design to allow it to turn smoothly in as relatively small radius, when we say relatively it is in relation to its overall length. Other considerations with maneuverability include speed, and this powerchair has a top speed of 4 mph which is about average for this type of power-operated chair.

    Range is also about average with 15 miles being achievable from a single battery
    charge. Perhaps its main advantage under the maneuverability heading is its turning circle which is just 25" which is about the same as its overall width, meaning that it does literally turn on the spot. This is a key feature particularly if you wish to use the electric wheelchair inside and in confided spaces.

    Drive Medical electric wheelchair chasis Drive Medical powerchair chasis is compact

    Next we move on to comfort. It is not uncommon for folk to remain in their powerchair for several hours at a time and so it is incredibly important that the users remains comfortable throughout and that there is sufficient support to remain comfortable. Ride comfort is generally goverened by the number of wheels, 4 or 6 and suspension. This Titan electric wheelchair has 6 wheels and a reasonably long wheelbase meaning that the chair spreads its weight over a greater area allowing it to iron out undulations, lumps and bumps fairly well.

    An electric wheelchair that's easy to transport

    The Drive Medical Titan folded The Drive Medical Titan folded for storage or transprtation

    The seat can be height adjusted to allow for taller users with longer legs. The powerchair seat is very comfortable and does swivel allowing easier mount and dismount. The chair seat and back are padded for comfort but firm enough to give good support. It comes with an adjustable headrest that is removable to minimise space needed when storing or transporting the powerchair. The arm
    rests are also adjustable to ensure they are at the right height for support and
    comfort. The foot plates can also be adjusted to help adopt good posture during those long days out.

    This moves us on to transportability. The Titan powerchair folds down with ease for transport in a car. It folds in to a relatively compact space and weighs in at 68KG. The key with the Titan is that no tools are required to collapse this electric wheelchair in to smaller easy to handle parts making transprt by car relatively simple.

    Dynamic Shark programmable controller Easy to use dynamic Shark programmable controller

    Finally the Titan powerchair has a good array of safety features. Starting with 6 wheels, this makes the chair more stable than some to prevent slipping. A lap belt is fitted to keep you in your seat and the solid tyres front and back mean that you won't be caught out with a puncture.

    So how do we rate the Titan powerchair overall ?

    From a cost of ownership this model represents very good value overall backed up by Drive Medicals warranty that covers the frame for life, the electric components for 14 months and the batteries for 6 months. This electric wheelchair really does represent value for money.

  • 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

  • Wheelchair glamour hits the catwalk

    It’s nice to see wheelchairs on the catwalk and it seems there are no limits for the Australian girl Justine Clarke who entered the Australian Miss World challenge in her wheelchair.  The beauty contest is held annually and was this year in hosted Adelaide in Southern Australia.

    Justine who has used a wheelchair for over 2years suffers from a severe leg deformity which prevents her from waling without assistance. However it doesn’t prevent her from doing much and her plucky courage has made her and her wheelchair some news by entering the competition. The quote that is making several newspapers is 'It does not define me... I can still be strong, feminine and beautiful'. As she arrived on stage in her wheelchair she announced 'No matter what your race, size or disability, you are beautiful'.

    Justine did not progress to the next stage but will still work closely with charities including the 'Beauty With a Purpose' movement - a mission to benefit 'the most vulnerable in our society. She went on to say 'A wheelchair does not define me or limit me. I can still be strong, feminine and beautiful.'

    Although Ms Clarke has been un a wheelchair for about two years she has chosen not to let the full story about her condition emerge. Speaking with one journalist from herself propelled wheelchair she commented 'I don’t really want to go in to what happened but I want to be a role model and empower young women. For somebody in a wheelchair to be able to compete is a big thing. I really hope it sends a message that no matter what your race, size or disability - whatever makes you different - you are beautiful.'

    Justine was driven by the unusually large percentage of disadvantaged children who are wheelchair users in Southern Australia and her plan is to continue to work with Variety the charity for children and spread the Beauty With a Purpose message. She hopes to help raise awareness for young wheelchair users and encourage fund raising efforts to help the cause.

    Certainly seeing a wheelchair on the catwalk was an empowering sight and her Justine’s comments about a wheelchair not defining her hit a note with many at the event. Being able to compete in a wheelchair does define her message that 'no matter what your race, size or disability – whatever makes you different – you are beautiful.'

  • Taxi drivers face fines for refusing wheelchairs

    A new law will soon come in to affect which will impose penalties on taxi and private hire drivers who refuse to provide services to wheelchair users and will make it an offence to charge a higher fare to wheelchair users.

    Most wheelchairs are folding wheelchairs these days so there is no real reason for any form of taxi to refuse to give users with wheelchairs a ride and these fines can be up to £1000.

    These penalties are due to come in to affect from April the 6th this year and will be enforced with immediate effect. All drivers are expected to offer appropriate assistance to wheelchair users to ensure that they and their chairs are treated much the same as any other fare.

    The rules will soon apply across the whole of Great Britain for taxis and private hire vehicles designated as wheelchair accessible and this includes all black cabs in London and taxis in many other cities.

    In addition to the proposed fines, drivers could face the loss of their licenses if they fail to comply with the new ruling for wheelchair users. Robert Meadowcroft, the chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said it was “a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport”.

    Many disability charities have campaigned long and hard for this to become enforced as “People who use wheelchairs are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.”

    It is reckoned that historically the struggle faced by those in wheelchairs has mean that they are less able to find employment nor to play an active role in society. it is now down to the government to ensure that more is done to incentivise the private hire taxi industry so to increase the amount of wheelchair accessible cabs so that users can remain in their wheelchairs during their journey.

    Faryal Velmi, Transport for All’s director, has also called or more training for drivers of taxis to improve the treatment of all disabled passengers. There are further plans afoot this year to address other barriers faced by disabled people including users of wheelchairs using all types of public transport.

  • Wheelchair spaces at football grounds

    Wheelchairs at football grounds. It has been a contended issue for many years but now it seems to be making some progress as Premier League clubs may face sanctions over lack of improvement to disabled access and wheelchair users. A recent report has shown that clubs continue to prioritise spend elsewhere but at last might face legal actions and possible financial penalties if they do not meet the needs of disabled fans in wheelchairs.

    There are a number of basic standards set out to ensure that grounds are suitable for wheelchair access and many of the premier clubs still fail to meet these standards, including Watford, Liverpool and Chelsea. A deadline for these basic standards to be in place is looming.

    In 2015, the footy league promised to massively improve stadium facilities for disabled fans and stated that football clubs would have to comply with official guidance by August 2017 which is not far away.

    An investigation made by the BBC in 2014 found that 17 of the 20 clubs in the top flight had failed to provide enough wheelchair spaces at matches. The select committee's report on "Accessibility of Sports Stadia" names Bill Bush as stating that top flight clubs who fail these criteria will be punished and fined up to £25,000 or more if the issues weren’t addressed and wheelchairs catered for in a more acceptable manner.

    So what do the football clubs have to say about this ? Watford have already indicated they will fail to fulfill the pledge on wheelchair spaces, indicating in a club statement that "all known demand from disabled supporters has been met".

    In one quote David Butler, chairman of independent disabled supporters group WFC stated that  if the extra 61 wheelchair spaces required under the league's guidelines are provided at Vicarage Road, "700 able-bodied supporters would be displaced from cherished seats that they may have occupied for many years. Chelsea football club plans to demolish their Stamford Bridge stadium and plan to meet all guidelines when the ground is rebuilt. And, as for Liverpool they have not made any claims officially but are understood to be exploring options to promote wheelchair access as part of redevelopment work at Anfield.

    In fact another study showed that only three Premier League football stadiums provide the actual required number of wheelchair spaces so let’s hope that in the coming months leading up to the deadline there is some good news from many clubs to better cater for wheelchair access.

  • Wheelchair user prevented from boarding bus - post ruling

    Well it didn’t take long for this to happen, a wheelchair users was refused space on the bus she wanted to catch in Wakefield Yorkshire because the wheelchair space was taken by a mother with pushchair. Not best pleased by this, Kirsty Shepard was even told by the driver of the Ariva bus that she was not allowed to board the bus at all despite there being plenty of space.

    This came only five days after the Supreme Court said that bus drivers must be more accommodating towards wheelchair users. Ariva responded by saying they were investigating the matter urgently.

    Bizarrely, Kisrty said that the woman with the pushchair on the Rothwell to Wakefield bus was happy to move, but the driver still would not let Kirsty on the bus in the wheelchair, presumably because it would mean that either the pushchair or the wheelchair would be compromised from a safety point of view. When a bus has to display a sign that reads "Please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user" you would think that most folk including the driver would understand and be accommodating but clearly not always.

    The Supreme court found the company, First Bus, should do more to persuade non-wheelchair users to move from wheelchair spaces, but did not have the legal power to remove them. Ms Shepherd said the Arriva driver told the passengers to get off, saying it was her fault the journey could not go on.

    "He leant forward and said 'I can't let you on love, I've got a pushchair on'," she said. "I said 'well please ask her to move'. He said 'I can't do that'.At this point in time, the lady with the pushchair actually moved of her own accord. but the driver still would not let Ms Shepherd on.

    "The people on the bus started shouting saying 'just get the next bus, we've got homes to get to'," she said. Kirsty then spoke to the driver's manager who was also not willing to let her on board the bus.

    Mr Pauley, who was the centre of the original ruling was contacted and questioned about the wheelchair V buggy incident that Kisrty had experienced and he said he could not see why Ms Shepherd had been denied the bus journey. "On her bus there was a buggy space, so there were two separate spaces. When that lady [with the pushchair] moved into the buggy space that space was free and available for a wheelchair, so I don't know why the driver didn't let her on."

    He said he thought the Supreme Court ruling had gone far enough to help wheelchair users.

  • Wheelchair versus pushchair Supreme Court case ends

    The long winded battle over the rights of a wheelchair user versus a pushchair user has finally been settled by the supreme court. This article has been all over the news recently and stems from an incident in 2012 when the wheelchair user was denied access on to the bus as the only space that was safe for wheelchair transport was already in use by a mother which a child in a pushchair.

    Originally described as discrimination, the wheelchair user Mr Paulley, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, has campaigned to see a little more understanding and courtesy towards o accommodating wheelchair users on public transport.

    The outcome is that bus drivers will now have to do more to accommodate wheelchair users although bus drivers would not be asked to remove non compliant customers from its vehicles.

    Mr Paulley said the ruling would make "a major difference" to wheelchair users allowing them greater freedom and confidence of being able to board a bus in their wheelchair knowing that they are likely to find a safe and suitable space. During the hearing, the court said the bus company should consider additional steps to persuade non-wheelchair users to move, without making it a legal duty to move them. Although it must be made clear that the judgment falls short of making it a legal requirement for the bus companies to compel non-wheelchair passengers to move from the space.

    Described as "an important milestone" by the disability charity Scope, it seems like good news for all wheelchair users and hopefully part of a bugger recognition of the daily problems faced by users of wheelchairs.

    Bus drivers are now feeling that they may be put in an awkward position by having to ask non wheelchair users to vacate the space intended to securely transport the wheelchair but it is hoped that the running and the associated press will increase the awareness of the plights facing those in wheelchairs.

    When asked whether the verdict had gone far enough, Mr Paulley said the issue would always involve "a matter of judgment" from drivers. However, Mr Paulley's solicitor, Chris Fry, said the ruling had fallen short.

    "The judgement should have gone further - there's no right as things currently stand to force someone off a bus. So it goes as far as that, but not that far yet."

    So although no one wants to see a pram or pushchair being transported in an unsafe way, most fold and this would allow them to be stowed and the space be occupied by a wheelchair.

  • Wheelchair tennis is not for Novak

    Wheelchair tennis is a remarkably good watch both live and on television and the speed and agility with which players cover the court in their wheelchairs always shocks me. It was good to see Novak Djokovic give it a go this week all in aid of charity.

    The charity event was held in Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday and two-time paralympic gold medalist wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott was ready to beat Novak.

    Once Novak was strapped in to the wheelchair there was no comparison between the two players. Alcott was covering ground with ease in his wheelchair while Novak remained comparatively motionless in his wheelchair which highlighted just how difficult the game of wheelchair tennis is.

    "Oh my god, I have to play tennis. How do you do it?" Djokovic asked, while trying to figure out how to turn his new wheelchair.

    Once the match was over there was a press gathering and a photo with Alcott in his wheelchair alongside Novak, where Alcott said “big love to the man himself Novak Djokovic for being such an incredibly good sport throughout the whole night, needs to work on his leg spin and wheelchair tennis though!”.

    Although the result of the wheelchair tennis was a little disappointing for Novak, the vent was a success and helped to raise much needed funds for the Novak Djokovic Foundation to help children in Serbia get access to good preschool education.

  • Electric Wheelchair Review - Drive Medical Cirrus

    In 2017 we will be reviewing some of the electric wheelchairs that we sell and we aim to give you some impartial advice to help you make an informed decision as to which powerchair suits you and your lifestyle best. As you will already  know there is an ever increasing choice of electric wheelchairs on the market and they all look slightly different. So we have decided to point out the key benefits of some of them to help you to find the powerchair that will work best for you.

    This week we have selected the Cirrus electric wheelchair from manufacturer Drive DeVilbiss. Firstly we want to point out that this is a folding electric wheelchair, why ? because not all models fold and this could be one of the criteria you use to select the right powerchair. Folding is good if you wish to transport the wheelchair with ease and it will help it to fit in to smaller spaces such as the average car boot. The folded dimensions are 77cm (L) x 92cm (H) x 37cm (W).

    The Cirrus powerchair will cruise along nicely at 5pmh and feels stable on most sound surfaces. This is made possible as it has less bulk then many models which is because it was designed to fold. The second benefit of having less bulk is that it is better suited to indoor use. However we have found that the turning radius of this electric wheelchair is not as tight as some of its competitors at 33" which is a big consideration if you plan to use it primarily inside. The manufacturers quote the range as 15 miles but we were not able to test this in the time that we allocated.

    While we are on the topic of the ride itself it is worth pointing out that this powerchair has a higher ride height than many, allowing greater clearance over raised obstacles than other electric wheelchairs in the same class. Its ride height is a whopping 4 inches. Another consideration is its ability to climb and descend with ease and although we had no scientific way of measuring this it seems fine and so we have used the manufacturers figure of 6 degrees, which is in line with most of its competitors.

    If you wish to see th full specificationd of the Cirrus electric wheelchair please click here

    Moving on to comfort levels, this electric wheelchair is very good on this point and i imaging it would cater well for its maximum user weight of 21 stone or 135 kg. It is worth pointing out that the heavier the user of the powerchair the less the total range will be. So if you way 20 stone you may not see the full range of 15 miles, particularly if you are in a hilly area.

    While we are discussing range, clearance and climb ability it is also worth mentioning wheel size, as this will affect performance of any electric wheelchair in many ways. The drive wheels on this Cirrus wheelchair are 12.5 inches in diameter and are puncture proof. In essence, the bigger the wheel, the more comfortable the ride and the better the powerchair is equipped to smooth out any rough ground. In addition a bigger wheel will make lighter work therefore increasing the range of the wheelchair battery(s). The position of the drive wheels can vary, but on the Cirrus powerchair they are the rear wheels. On the front, there are  8-inch caster wheels which help maintain the powerchair's stability and stop it from tipping when you're getting in and out of the chair or if you're riding on rough or uneven ground.

    In terms of accessories and features, the Cirrus powerchair has all the basic things covered including a seat belt, seat cushion, pouch and swing in/out footrests. The arms rests are also height adjustable to meet your specific height requirements. Both the seat and seat back have plenty of padding which do give a very comfortable effect although our trial lasted less than two hours.

    Electric wheelchairs are not cheap items to buy and we always provide the best price we can. However it is still worth looking at the likely cost of ownership of your prospective powerchair. One thing we do like a lot about the Cirrus is the product’s warranty which covers the powerchair for repairs or replacement during the 12 month period which also extends to the wheelchair batteries, which is obviously conditional on the batteries being used and recharged in the correct way. Drive Medical have a great reputation for customer service which also adds a lot of confidence when you purchase an electric wheelchair.

    At the time of writing this aritcle we are able to offer the Cirrus electric wheelchair for under £1000 delivered to your door ! Call us on 0800 0556377 / 01803 872020 if you would like us to do this.

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