Ultralight & Manual Wheelchair Case Studies

"I’ve Been Outside All the Time"

Meet the Client

Richard Smith, 42

C4-5 SCI, 19 years post injury

Major Goal:
Provide excellent propulsion efficiency to counter a history of upper-ex tremity pain; kick-start a fitness program.

Propulsion efficiency is more than just a faster way to get around. At its best, it can improve everything from the wheelchair user’s activity level to his attitude.

Take, for instance, Richard Smith. Nineteen years post injury, he presented with “a history of upper-extremity pain and injury, and required an ultralightweight system with excellent propulsion efficiency,” said Daniel Westley, an equipment specialist from Advanced Mobility Products Ltd.’s Vancouver/Burnaby location.

In working with this client, Daniel notes, “Rich tends to sit with his lower extremities abducted, and he requires an aggressive static tilt angle for balance, stability and propulsion ergonomics.” Rich also uses a compact car “and required a transportable system,” Daniel says.

ultralightweight system with excellent propulsionSo Daniel chose a Motion Composites Veloce ultralight chair measuring 18x18". The chair uses 5" casters and features more than 4" of dump, 3° of camber, 24" Spinergy Spox wheels, and high-friction plastic-coated handrims. “The chair was ordered with a 1+" extended front frame to accommodate Richard’s abducted lower-extremity position and to provide a larger surface area for transfers,” Daniel says. “To maintain the lightness of the system, Rich selected carbon fiber clothing guards and a one-piece carbon fiber flip-up footplate, as well as an NXT back and NXT seat cushion through Dynamic Health Care Solutions.”

“Now I Want to Get Out of Bed”

So what were the results of this finely tweaked new wheelchair?

“I’ve been sick for the last three years, and I’m now trying to get back into shape,” Richard says. “Since I got this chair, I’ve been outside all the time. It’s turned around my whole quality of life.” As proof, he reports that within two months of switching to his new Veloce, his shoulder pain stopped progressing, and he was able to stop taking the daily doses of Baclofen that had been helping to manage his spasms.

Richard also says his favorite trait of the Veloce is its adjustability, which came in handy as he and Daniel fine-tuned the new chair. “Daniel’s made a lot of adjustments,” Richard explains. “He’s made it more tippy, moved the side guards back. There are so many options.”

ultralightweight system with excellent propulsionSays Daniel: “It took a couple of visits over about a month, but with Rich’s feedback and the .25" center-of-gravity and rear-wheel adjustments, we were able to find the perfect setup to allow Rich to manage his [home] ramp safely and have efficient day-to-day propulsion.”

Richard, meanwhile, loves that the Veloce “breaks down and folds and only weighs about 12 lbs. It makes it a lot easier to lift across my body as I put it in the car.” As for propelling it, “You just touch it, and it rolls. It feels like I’m pushing a cloud.”

And that improved propulsion has had a major impact on Richard’s overall perspective. “Now I wake up and I want to get out of bed,” he says. “Knowing I don’t have to push that heavy chair around makes it a lot easier.”

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

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