Ultralight & Manual Wheelchair Case Studies

An Extra Push for a New Ultralight Chair

Meet the Client

Anne Richardson, 62

Small-fiber peripheral neuropathy; osteoar thritis

Major Goal:
Independent mobility in her community while using a folding wheelchair.

Highly motivated, gainfully employed, active, working to sustain good health practices. That’s the way that Penny J. Powers, PT, MS, ATP, at the Vanderbilt University Adult Seating & Mobility Clinic described client Anne Richardson, a part-time employee at Vanderbilt’s Divinity school library.

“She is a wife, mother and grandmother,” Penny added. “She is highly motivated to achieve the maximum level of independence with regards to mobility.”

Penny listed Anne’s clinical challenges: “Small-fiber peripheral neuropathy with neuropathic pain involving both lower extremities; osteoarthritis; impaired sensation in bilateral lower extremities; pain in upper extremities, wrists and hands resulting in functional impairments.”

Those impairments were significant, Penny added: “A history of falls; paresthesias; diminished ability to ambulate with and without assistive device secondary to the inability to weight bear (stand); decreased ability to propel a standard-weight or high-strength lightweight manual wheelchair.”

Penny said Anne “can independently self-propel an ultralightweight manual wheelchair with bilateral upper extremities and some foot propulsion.” But when in the community, Anne has relied on dependent mobility.

Independent mobilityOther Factors Coming Into Play

In addition to those clinical challenges, Powers and her seating & mobility team colleague, Andy Foster, OTR/L, ATP, had to consider Anne’s transportation: a four-door car that led Anne to request a folding wheelchair rather than one with a rigid frame. Penny and Andy also noted that Anne reported chronic pain in her upper and lower extremities, and that she had decreased endurance during her days.

After factoring in all those details, Penny and Andy recommended a TiLite Aero Z — a folding model — measuring 16x17x18.5" (front seat-to-floor height) and 17.5" (back seat-to-floor height).

Fine-Tuning the System

Why the TiLite Aero Z? “The patient prefers and requested a foldingframe wheelchair,” Penny explained. “This folding manual wheelchair offers the best ‘retro’ fit for the SmartDrive attachment for folding chairs. It is the lightest-weight folding manual wheelchair that we could offer her.”

The Aero Z is set up with 2° camber, 80° hangers, composite adjustable footplates, adjustable-tension back upholstery, a Comfort Company Curve cushion, push-to-lock wheel locks, an adjustable quick-release axle, and plastic-coated handrims. Anne’s Aero Z does not have armrests.

Adding the MAX Mobility SmartDrive power-assist unit expanded the geography within Anne’s reach.

Using the SmartDrive “provides her with means to access the community for service and leisure activities, family activities and the university campus for employment-related duties and responsibilities,” Penny reports. “[Anne] verbalizes a high degree of satisfaction with the new manual wheelchair and recognizes that proficiency with the SmartDrive will take practice in a variety of settings, surfaces and terrains. She has met her goal of independent mobility in the community.”

And as for what the seating & mobility team learned from this experience?

“It is vital,” Penny says, “to keep abreast of innovations in the industry to be able to offer patients/clients optimum interventions to meet their goals and expectations.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Mobility Management.

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