My dad no longer walks more than a few steps with assistance (and not at all without it). As a result, he no longer gets even the minimal exercise he got when he could walk with assistance from his room to the dining hall in his nursing home. Now that his power wheelchair has been decommissioned, he’s also lost much of the freedom it gave him.
Because he has a variety of systemic problems, the potential impact of these changes on his health — and his quality of life — could be devastating, affecting everything from his ability to use all of his limbs to his mental status. It’s been clear for a very long time that his best days and weeks were those when he could move about — when he could manage those walks. And, of course, the autonomy he’s enjoyed while using his power chair has kept him from being isolated in his room during the times when activities aren’t scheduled at his nursing home.
When I drafted my original article about the Wijit more than a month ago, I had no idea my dad might need something like a lever-powered wheelchair so soon. Sometimes, though, changes that appear to be coming on slowly can accelerate unexpectedly.
Last week, I contacted the people at Wijit. After discussing my dad’s situation with the president (who happened to be standing nearby when I called), it appears that Dad could be a good candidate, and the device is on its way here. A rep will come to the nursing home — probably this week — and demonstrate the Wijit for my dad, and, hopefully, his physical therapist. We’ll see if it is as right for him as it seems to be on paper.
The product is new, and so is the company, and there are still some issues to work out — I emailed twice and never got a response and finally had to call. (I did get a return receipt for one email a day after contacting the company by phone, but no other acknowledgement, and no receipt for the second email.) That said, once I was on the phone, the response was excellent, and the follow-up has been efficient and friendly as the company makes the arrangements with a representative here to deliver and demonstrate the device.
I’m hoping all the bugs are in the marketing, and none in the equipment.
For the record, I did NOT identify myself as a blogger or writer or reviewer. Especially if I’m writing about an experience, I want to know what anyone can expect — not whether or not it’s possible to get preferential treatment for one reason or another.
I’m hoping the Wijit will give my dad a fighting chance at retaining his arm and shoulder strength, and, through daily exertion, keep his stamina at least at its current level. Stay tuned for further reports.
Previously: Levers to Drive a Manual Wheelchair