Much to everyone’s surprise, my dad not only survived his transfer from the west coast to a nursing home on the east coast, but he thrived. It wasn’t long before I began looking for ways to get him out and about — not just to doctors, but so that he could get to know the area around the home and have at least a bit of the sense of freedom that he had had when living at home.
Everybody loves jeans — at least, everybody who doesn’t sit all day does. I’ve been thinking about jeans lately because my dad just doesn’t use the pockets in his anymore — he really can’t get to them easily. It’s also gotten very difficult for him to raise his legs by himself — the other day I was joking with him, saying that he needed handles on his pants legs. He thought that was a pretty good idea, and, on second thought, so did I.
So I came home and searched on ‘jeans’ and ‘wheelchair’ and found USA Wheelchair Jeans, who proudly make “pants designed for sitting.”
Along with a dazzling array of fabric choices, they offer regular and slim fits and a whole host of custom options. They can add lap and calf pockets and transfer straps to their jeans, and make custom patterns as well. Fabrics are available in 8, 10 and 14 ounce weights. I’m going to order a pair for dad, and we’ll see if they do the trick.
USA’s website is full of information, but terrible to navigate. *Sigh* — will bad websites always be with us?
You Can Take It With You
Coolest not-yet-existing product at the WCD Expo? The ATRS system — essentially a conversion van which uses remote control to return your wheel chair to its docking point inside your van. ‘ATRS’ stands for ‘Automated Tranport and Retrieval System.’
The system is expected to include Freedom Lift’s Freedom Seat, the Tracker with Dock ‘n’ Lock with the ATRS. The Freedom Seat lifts, rotates, and lowers outside a vehicle next to a wheelchair for a side-to-side transfer, and re-entry into the vehicle. The Tracker is a wheelchair lift with a locking/docking component (Dock ‘n’ Lock).
These two items (three, if you count the Dock ‘n’Lock as separate) are available now, but the cool part is the ATRS — the software and hardware that Freedom Sciences has developed to use the Freedom Seat and the Tracker as parts of a remote control system. This system will allow you to roll up in your chair, transfer to the Freedom Seat and remotely send your wheelchair from the front vehicle door to the Tracker, load it onto the Tracker, dock it, slide it into the vehicle and stow it — all while you’re sitting in your van (mini or otherwise).
That’s cool enough, but the kicker is that the Freedom Seat and Tracker don’t require any drilling for installation — they install in the existing manufacturer slots for the OEM seats. Yes, you can take it with you . . . this conversion can follow you from van to van, reducing the cost of conversion considerably over time.
At the moment, cost of the system and van is estimated at more or less the cost of a full conversion van, so (and assuming this is still true when it becomes available) the initial cost won’t be any saving, but should add up as vans get replaced.
It won’t be for everyone, but for those who can use it, this system, with its fabulous robotic component, could offer unparalled freedom for many, along with the opportunity to ride and drive in a fully-tested safer automotive seat. Launch is set for spring 2007.
I have high hopes for this baby. In defiance of all previous known manufacturer/developer practices, the engineers are actually using the system themselves — in a (gasp!) wheelchair, just as if they expected it to work the way they’re designing it. Way-to-go guys!
In Part 1 of this series on Portable Ramps, I discussed the basic set-up around our house. This article will cover how I determined what sort of ramp setup we needed — Steps 1 through 4 on this mission.
Valco Baby has the sturdiest and most practical cupholder I’ve found for any kind of self-propelled vehicle (think stroller, walker, wheelchair).
Attaching it isn’t the most intuitive process around, but once on board, it rotates to any angle, and is absolutely secure. It’s worked great on my dad’s wheelchair, and I’ve used it happily on several strollers as well.
I’ve just worked through the process of researching and buying portable wheelchair ramps for the house, so that we can get my dad into and out of it easily when he visits. We want him to be here with as little fuss and stress as possible.
So, Medicare has denied my dad’s claim for a powerchair. They need to know whether it’s a sale or a rental. The supplier of the powerchair, which was delivered and PAID FOR last July, apparently failed to mention this when they submitted the claim (two months later).
Coolest existing product at the WCD Expo? Without a doubt, the Honda Element XWav wheelchair conversion. Forget the van — this SUV gets 26 MPH, and the conversion is a marvel of simple good sense. Freedom Motors had a passenger side conversion at the show. They dropped the right front floor ten inches, leaving a level floor where the front seats go, and an opening an amazing 56 inches tall.