CRT Technology Showcase
4Front: Making Consumer Choice a Powerful Priority
In an age when consumers demand robust functionality from their technology — remember when a cell phone was just for making calls? — it should come as no surprise that consumers also demand a wider range of choices in their power wheelchairs.
For some users, that means the obstacle climbing and maneuverability of front-wheel drive. And now Quantum Rehab has its own answer: the new 4Front.
Not Simply a FWD Chair
The 4Front is Quantum Rehab’s front-wheel-drive debut, and Quantum VP Jay Brislin, MSPT, indicated that the company didn’t want to simply imitate what was on the market.
“What we were missing was front-wheel drive,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of existing options from a front-wheeldrive perspective for clients, so over several years, we’ve been looking to develop a front-wheel-drive chair. But we didn’t want a me-too product.”
The world, Brislin pointed out, doesn’t need just another power chair. “It needs something better, something that’s going to further enhance somebody’s life, to allow somebody to seamlessly transition through their environment. How can we make somebody’s daily interactions and activities just a little bit easier, a little less stressful, a little less fatiguing?”
Among Quantum’s engineering goals, Brislin said: maneuverability, a smooth ride, and an unmatched driving experience.
As a configuration, front-wheel drive can have several advantages over mid- and rear-wheel drive.
“Your drive tires are the first things that are coming up and approaching the obstacle or whatever it is you’re driving over,” Brislin explained of front-wheel drive. “That power right up front, to pull you up and through things, is definitely a reason to use front-wheel drive. It does have tight cornering, especially when you’re making turns in tight areas. By not having front swiveling casters, you have a lot of room up front to better position the client’s legs.”
But Brislin and his team wanted their first front-wheel-drive offering to provide more than those traditional benefits. Explaining that Quantum wanted to design a highly responsive chair, Brislin addressed a well-known front-wheel-drive tendency — fishtailing at higher speeds.
“One of the issues you see with front-wheel-drive chairs is once you go past 5 mph, the chair can tend to flutter because that drive tire is up front and pulling everything from the rear,” Brislin said. “We wanted to go to 6 mph standard, which we did‚ and we used what we’re calling CASE technology, which stands for Caster Angle Sensor Encoder.”
Brislin described CASE technology as “controlling the stability of the chair when you’re turning, so if you’re driving at high speeds or going over uneven terrain, this aids in the driveability and keeps your casters moving in the correct direction. That’s going to allow for better performance, much better responsiveness and allows the chair to track even straighter, especially when you’re using alternative drive controls.”
4Front’s other calling card is its new SRS (Smooth Ride Suspension) system, featuring four coil-over, gas-charged shocks. Brislin said motocross and dirtbike racing were the system’s inspiration.
“We looked at that industry to see what they’re doing that allows riding their dirtbikes and jumping over obstacles while still dissipating all that shock. We went with this kind of suspension, and it’s been a night-and-day difference in how the chair drives and the overall ride quality.”
Brislin said the SRS system can prevent some everyday vibrations from reaching the power chair user.
“Whenever you go over an obstacle (with front-wheel drive), it does tend to be a little jarring to the client,” he acknowledged. “It tends to make the client move or get repositioned. Knocking Group 3 clients a little bit out of position can mean the difference between being able to reach the drive control or not. That independent SRS dissipates a lot of shock and bounce before it gets to the person sitting in the chair. It keeps them stable, it allows the chair to be stable, and it really allows the chair to go a lot of places a lot of other Group 3 chairs can’t.”
Electronics & Powered Seating
While 4Front uses a brand-new power base, it also uses the Q-Logic 3 electronics and TRU-Balance 3 powered seating that ATPs, clinicians and technicians already know. 4Front offers static seating, tilt, or tilt + seat elevation; manual recline is also available.
4Front’s all-new front-wheel-drive power base took its smooth-riding inspiration from the motocross and dirtbike industries.
And the “seat elevation at the speed of life” that Quantum Rehab has so successfully marketed? 4Front users can drive up to 3.2 mph while elevated 10", thanks to Quantum’s Safe Seat Elevation technology.
“We’ve added a lot of stability features,” Brislin said, in reference to 4Front’s seat elevation. “The suspension, in particular, allows the chair to be stable and safe.”
4Front can be coded K0848, K0849, K0856 or K0861, for standard, single or multiple power options applications. Accessories include standard LED front and rear fender lights, and Brislin said that after 4Front’s initial early-October launch, “We’re going to have a couple of options and configurations in which you don’t even require the front anti-tips.” 4Front offers seat widths and depths starting at 12" and going up to 22" and a weight capacity of 300 lbs., ensuring that this front-wheel-drive offering is an option for a wide range of users.
4Front is also WC19 crash tested and compatible with EZ Lock automotive securement systems.
“We took a step back and said, ‘We need to make this innovative; we need to make this really client focused,’” Brislin said of 4Front. “Quantum has grown quite a bit over the last almost 20 years, and we want to make sure we are giving all those product offerings. We’re giving our providers and our consumers an alternative, if [front-wheel] is a drive-wheel position that they like or they want.
“We’re a listening company. The reason we’ve gotten to these levels of success is because of the people we listen to — our therapists and providers, and ultimately, the people driving our chairs.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Mobility Management.