Editor's Note

Ready, Set, Innovate!

International Seating Symposium

At the International Seating Symposium with Bruno Sommacal (left) and Marco Galante, the forces behind Tarta’s backrest.

If you love technology — and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in the complex rehab technology industry, I suppose — you love this time of year. For around a four-week stretch starting in February and creeping into March, my shampoo comes only from cute little bottles. My suitcase yawns open on my kitchen floor and spills out notebooks, sweaters and tiny tubes of toothpaste. I’m yawning too, because as a West Coaster, I’m on lots of early flights.

But I’m ecstatic. It’s show season! That means first peeks at the seating, positioning, electronics, power chairs, manual chairs, ultralights, hardware and accessories that manufacturers have worked on all winter.

As I write this, I’m just back from the International Seating Symposium (ISS), which followed the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., which followed, by a few days, Numotion’s annual leadership conference in San Antonio, Texas.

I’m still rounding up stats and quotes for those two events, so this month, we’ll concentrate on ISS. The symposium was in Vancouver, again at the lovely Westin Bayshore. You can read and see extensive coverage starting on page 8. But here are random observations on complex rehab’s biggest show of the year:

  • Backrests were big. The question I get the most is “What’s the big news at this show?” Technology wise, backrests. The Permobil group showed off a sexy new carbon fiber ROHO creation being modeled by TiLite’s team. Stealth Products officially announced its deal to bring Tarta Design’s backrests into the United States — and these backs look like works of art. Not to be outdone, Accessible Designs Inc. (ADI) — now in the Stealth Products fold — also ramped up the visibility of its famous carbon fiber backs. Comfort Company showcased new hardware and new power chair compatibility. (Yes, Mobility Management’s own Best Picks award, handed out at ISS, was backrest shaped. Coincidence? Conspiracy?)
  • So was standing. The other segment I heard most about was standing — from standing frames (Easystand has great stuff in the works) to standing wheelchairs (Amysystems showed off a standing system). From Permobil to Levo, from the new “DJ” musical component from Ormesa to Rifton’s packed-with-possibilities Dynamic Pacer, standing looked more fun and functional than ever.
  • Power seating pushed boundaries. Tilt isn’t one type fits all any more. There’s lateral and anterior — and PDG Mobility’s Elevation chair doesn’t even need power to achieve anterior tilt on the fly! Seat elevation was buzzy: Pride Mobility Products showed off its new Jazzy Air, with 10" of seat elevation while driving up to 3.5 mph at the same time. Ki Mobility’s Focus CR has a power option to give the user full control over tilting without sacrificing any of the chair’s tilt range.
  • Linda McGowan is awesome. She was the keynote speaker on opening day, and she kept her huge audience laughing. That’s what happens when a clinician explains, in technical terms, how to transfer off an elephant in Nepal.
  • Canadian KitKat is so superior to American KitKat. It’s the chocolate. What’s going on here, Nestle?
  • After a long day in classes and on the show floor, the best way to unwind is to watch curling on Canadian TV. Trust me. It just is.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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