More Than a Stroller
Packed with Positioning, These Chairs Combine Function with Aesthetics
WAX CRAYON GREEN GRASS WITH FLOWERS: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/LARISA_ZORINA
Today’s “stroller-style” manual wheelchairs are so fully packed with positioning options that comparing them to commercial strollers is to shortchange their enormous functionality.
Mainstream strollers do get a few critical characteristics right. Their folding portability makes them easy to transport. They’re family friendly: lightweight to push, with storage space for outings. Attractive colors make parents proud to show them off.
These pediatric wheelchairs take the best of these traits and combine them with positioning features that can be custom chosen and fit per each child’s specific needs.
For active kids who need more positioning help, Convaid’s Trekker blends sophisticated positioning options with great looks and ease of use for parents.
For instance, Trekker separates into two parts — the base and the seating module — for convenient transportability. Positioning wise, Trekker offers up to 170° of adjustable recline with up to -5° to 45° of adjustable tilt.
Trekker’s versatile design features reversible seating so the child can face outward or toward the caregiver, and the chair can also accept various adaptive/aftermarket seating to give clinicians more choices. Trekker is WC19 tested and offers an array of positioning components and options, from trunk supports to head supports and pelvic positioning. Trekker can also accommodate kids who have additional medical equipment, such as a ventilator, IV, suction machine or oxygen tanks.
Trekker has seat widths of 12" or 14" and seat depths of 6-12" and 9-16", and a user weight capacity of 110 lbs. Convaid | R82, (844) US MOBILITY, www.convaid.com.
Tilt, at your service: That’s what the Ormesa New Bug (distributed by Innovation In Motion) offers. Because tilt (35° for the small size, 25° for the medium size) is built into New Bug’s seating rather than its base, tilt can be used when the seating system is detached from the base and sitting on the floor. New Bug also offers 35° of recline in the small size and 40° recline in the medium size.
Other positioning options include headrest with parietal supports; headrest with occipital and parietal supports; ergonomic headrest; lateral supports; wrappable trunk supports; padded abduction block; vest harness; 5-point vest harness; 5-point harness; 45° pelvic belt; 4-point belt; leg and foot straps.
Designed with parents and caregivers in mind, New Bug’s adjustments can be made with one hand, and options include a canopy and a net-style basket for under the seat. Padded, ergonomic upholstery uses snaps and can be easily removed. Upholstery choices are blue, pink or orange.
New Bug’s small size has a seat width/depth of 7.8-11.8", and a user weight capacity of 77 lbs. The medium size has a seat width/depth of 9.8-14.2" and a user weight capacity of 99 lbs. The chair is crash tested and is designed to accommodate children with mild to severe disabilities. Ormesa/Innovation In Motion, (260) 665-2769, www.mobility-usa.com.
Inspired by Drive’s next-generation Trotter, introduced in March, was designed for parents seeking a lightweight, foldable alternative to heavier wheelchair-style mobility bases. The Trotter is easily foldable and transportable, and grows with the child: Seat widths are 12-18", with growable seat depths of 9-13", 10-14", 11-15” and 12-16".
The Trotter features Adjustable Tension Positioning (ATP) straps to create a versatile backrest system. Positioning components include contoured headwings, upper-extremity support, Poziform full torso vest, Poziform lateral support and Scoli strap. The forwardfacing seating system is removable for transport, and the Trotter is WC19 crash tested.
Maximum user weight capacity is 75 to 250 lbs., depending on size of the chair. Transit capacity is 75 to 165 lbs. The chair, which has an optional canopy, weighs 33-36 lbs., is 20.5-26.5" wide and 45" long when folded. Colors: Jet Fighter Blue, Fire Truck Red, and Punch Buggy Pink. Inspired by Drive, (800) 454-6612, www.inspiredbydrive.com.
For a stroller to be easy to use, it’s got to be easy to fold. For a stroller-style wheelchair to be easy to use, it’s got to also grow easily, while offering the positioning components kids need for postural support.
The Trak’s sleek design is comfortable for parents to use, but also supportive of its young users. Leggero offers Trak in two sizes: Trak 12 (seat width of 6-12", seat depth of 6.5-15"); and Trak 14 (seat width of 8-14", seat depth of 6.5-15"). Both sizes have an 80-lb. user weight capacity and offer 45° of tilt and 30° of hip angle adjustment.
For positioning, Trak offers swingaway laterals, abductors, harnesses in multiple styles, medical mounting accessories and multiple headrest options. The canopy and storage space come standard, and the Trak’s seat width/depth in its 12 size assures that this stylish chair can accommodate even the littlest early-intervention kids. Leggero LLC, (844) 503-5437; www.leggero.us.
V is for Voyage, and also for versatility. Voyage offers an Advanced and a Moderate seating system — all the easier to fit each child’s needs — and the seating faces forward or toward the caregiver. Extensive adjustments keep up as kids grow.
The Advanced seating model (available in 11 colors) offers seat widths of 6-13", and seat depths of 5-13"; 35° of tilt (5° to -30°) and 0-45° recline. The Moderate seating model (in four colors) offers seat widths of 9.5-12", and seat depths of 8-13", with 35° of tilt (5° to -30°) and -10° to 90° of recline. Weight capacity for both seating models is 75 lbs.
Positioning components include WHITMYER head supports, lateral thoracic supports, anterior trunk supports, lateral hip supports, lateral and/or medial thigh supports, pelvic positioning belt, and ankle/foot positioning straps. A canopy comes standard; store 15 lbs. of essentials in an under-seat basket. Vent trays, IV poles and oxygen tank options are also available. Sunrise Medical, (800) 333-4000, www.sunrisemedical.com.
The redesigned EASyS Advantage seeks to make family outings easier with such changes as extra-thick cushioning, a new suspension to absorb vibration, more storage space and 180° recline with face-to-face seating.
Positioning wise, the Advantage (available in two sizes) offers tilt-in-space seating (-10 to 35°) and 90° to 180° angle adjustability at the hips and knees — plus 78° to 100° foot-angle adjustability. Accessories include foot straps with cam buckle, abduction block, hip supports, soft pelvic harness, crotch strap, chest harnesses, head support and a height-adjustable tray.
Seat widths and depths for Advantage size 1 are 7.5-11.8", with a user weight capacity of 77.1 lbs. Size 2 has seat widths of 9.8-14.6", seat depths of 10.6-15", and a user weight capacity of 88.2 lbs. Both sizes are WC19 crash tested. Thomashilfen North America, (866) 870-2122, www.thomashilfen.us.
Mike Serhan is well known in the home medical equipment industry, thanks to his role as Executive Partner at Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare.
What’s newer is his role at Inspired by Drive, the complex rehab division that Drive DeVilbiss launched last year.
Drive acquired Wenzelite Re/hab in 2003, but Wenzelite — with its walkers and basic manual wheelchairs — tended to focus on the “lighter” end of pediatric rehab. Then in 2015, Drive acquired Specialised Orthotic Services (SOS) and Columbia Medical just a few months apart. Both of the acquired companies specialized in pediatric positioning — not just as part of wheeled mobility, but also in the bathroom, car and playroom.
Now, Serhan heads a company with multiple missions: To teach complex rehab clinicians and providers about the value of what Serhan terms “sunup to sundown” postural support, including when kids are out of their wheelchairs, and to support the families who use Inspired by Drive products.
Color Their World
While at Drive Medical, Serhan was intimately involved in product design. With Inspired by Drive, he said, “We found real opportunities to grow the product line with unique products — and these are very unique products.”
Inspired by Drive’s P Pod chairs provide positioning in a design that’s anything but clinically typical.
Take, for example, the P Pod, an activity/leisure chair with a black beanbag base, a neon-colored positioning seat, and a silhouette that charms kids with postural needs (not to mention their siblings). Then there’s Nessie, a floor-positioning system just as brightly colored and with a shape reminiscent of a sea monster. Inspired by Drive’s latest launch is the Tusky Tilt & Recline Chair, an activity chair for the classroom, dining room or playroom.
It’s clear that positioning isn’t the only function that Inspired by Drive takes seriously.
“A couple of years ago,” Serhan said, “we received feedback from families and clinicians that while they liked the many product lines that were offered, they felt it lacked in color options and looked too institutional. A mom called us and said that her daughter’s favorite color was pink and she wanted a pink car seat, but the only color we offered was an outdated blue. It’s such an easy concept that gets lost in the shuffle, but color does matter.” Thus Inspired by Drive products are currently available in Roadster Red, Convertible Pink, Dune Buggy Beige, Speedway Gray, Go Kart Green and Rally Blue.
“Some of the best feedback we received is that parents can put our products, such as the P Pod, in their child’s playroom and it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb because of its medical look,” Serhan said. “It looks like it actually belongs in a child’s playroom, and they haven’t had that option before.”
What Parents Want
While the company does offer wheelchairs — including the Kanga with tilt and the stroller-style, lightweight Trotter — Inspired by Drive’s sunup-to-sundown product line offers kids positioning support in the bathroom (with complex bath chairs and hygiene products) and the car (with positioning car seats).
“We do a tremendous job of making sure the user is comfortable and correctly positioned while they are in the chair, but what about when they are out of it?” Serhan asked.
Since Drive is an international company, Serhan said the Inspired by Drive team benefits from insight and feedback it receives from abroad: “We get insights from all over the world,” he noted. But the idea of 24-hour postural support is still relatively new in the United States compared, for example, to Europe. And Serhan understands that in the time-crunched days of clinicians and ATPs, these “ancillary” products can be overlooked.
“The industry is limited with funding and time,” he said. “Our providers are somewhat constricted in how they can support a family’s needs. Typically, the provider will try to get the child everything they feel they need — and the key word here is need. That’s often limited, unfortunately, to a high-cost power chair or [manual] wheelchair. Maybe a few ‘ancillary’ items.”
Parents, however, yearn for more.
“Parents absolutely want to take care of needs, but they also have wants. They want their child to assimilate. They want their child to feel welcomed in a home environment. That’s where the P Pod comes in, when a parent feels like ‘This is what I wanted for my child.’ They look good in it, whether it’s a stroller or bathing products. That gets lost sometimes.”
Serhan added that these non-wheelchair products are entirely functional: “Everything we start with has a clinical basis,” he said. “We start with the clinical side and work from there to make it look good and feel good. That is what the Inspired division is.”
Motivating Families & Communities
Inspired by Drive is working on educating clinicians and ATPs about its sunup-to-sundown positioning mission, and also is building a community of families that can share their challenges and celebrate their victories together via #LiveInspired online pages.
Ultimately, the message from Inspired by Drive is that this company is wholly committed to the complex rehab space… and also to positioning beyond the wheelchair, and the inclusion that comes with that.
“The best stories we get,” Serhan said, “are from parents who say, ‘We got a P Pod for our daughter, and our younger son is jealous. He wants one, too.’
“That makes the child using the product feel good, that makes Mom and Dad feel good, and that’s part of what we should be looking at. It’s not just about the physical state. It’s also the mental and emotional state for the caregiver and the child.”
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Mobility Management.