Trips are a big deal at my dad’s nursing home. The recreation department does a great job of scheduling a variety of outings that otherwise home-bound residents can enjoy. Finding the right venue can be a challenge sometimes, though. Take the pizza outing, for example.
In two previous articles, I’ve discussed the Wijit, a lever device for moving a manual wheelchair, and written about my experience with the company. At the end of the second article I anticipated seeing the Wijit in action, in a manual wheelchair used by my dad. Things didn’t turn out that way.
Standard wheelchairs, manual or powered, are a marvel of uninspired design. With the exception of technical sports chairs, the great body of modern wheelchairs seems purpose-built for times long past. Functionally speaking, they roll. Great. For whatever reason, Big Medical Supply has shown minimal interest in making any substantial improvements either in basic design or function over, say, the last four decades.
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.
They’re not cheap, but wah-hoo, are they fun! Is your wheelchair looking ho-hum? Does someone you love need a really original gift? Spokeguard Art may be the answer.
If not, you’ll still have a blast checking out all these wheelchair spoke guards — categories include designs for children’s wheelchairs, animal-lovers, space-fiends, former flower children, sports fanatics and more.
Don’t let the home page scare you — the rest of the site’s much better designed. It’s also friendly, but a little amateurish — and there’s no indication of shipping costs. You might want to email or call before making a commitment.
I haven’t seen this in person yet, so I’m throwing it out for the ‘may be worth investigating’ file. The Wijit is a set of geared handles attached to manual wheelchair wheels. The idea is to allow cleaner (literally) and more ergonomic propulsion of the chair — no more grabbing for wheel rims with the attendant stress on the back and shoulders.
Back in California, I had a terrible time convincing Dad to buy the first wheelchair. No way he wanted it or even wanted to think about it. He was falling like crazy though — sometimes managing to bruise both of us in the process — very unstable, and short on stamina. Just getting him into and out of a car was adventure enough — we were really in trouble when we finally got to the doctor’s office, and going much of anywhere else just didn’t work well.
Every now and then I see a product that just screams “DIY” — not at all, presumably, the response an entrepreneur is looking for. At a recent WCDExpo, one booth featured a wheelchair shower system. Cool, potentially, since it was meant to use an existing sink (probably in a kitchen), and could be collapsed and put away when not in use.
You probably know this type of wheelchair — it’s light, with small wheels, and designed to fold up fairly compactly for travel. At the Guggenheim Museum in New York last month I met a woman in a similar chair, but with a difference — hers had gears attached to the sides so that she could propel the chair herself.
She was delighted to talk about the chair, which was an old Convaid model, now discontinued. She’d used it for years, and still loved it — it did everything a travel chair does, but also gave her the autonomy everyone wants.
Research on AbleData suggests that the model is the Convaid Compax Self-Drive (” . . . has a self-propulsion mechanism consisting of two plastic- coated handrims located on either side of the chair above the rear wheels and a positive belt drive connecting the rims to the rear wheels . . .”), discontinued, apparently, in 2004.
So the question is, why was it discontinued? Anyone out there have any idea? Anyone else have any experience with it?
Late in the summer, we took my dad to a local folk music festival, not quite sure what we’d encounter bathroom-wise at a park with no permanent amenities where a large crowd was expected. Hedging our bet, we took along a male urinal (the standard urine bottle available at any drugstore), which worked out just fine.