By definition, the Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry is one of inches… and that’s especially true for riders with ultralightweight wheelchairs. When your own shoulders are doing the propelling, every component of that chair and every measurement can become magnified.
But while every CRT consumer is unique, does the chair-building process reflect that fact?
In a new Mobility Management podcast, “Exploring RGK’s Made-to-Measure Mission,” CRT veterans Josh Anderson and Jim Black are joined by Sarah Leonard, PT, DPT, ATP — all now with RGK — to discuss the made-to-measure movement and how it could impact ultralightweight wheelchair riders.
“Custom configured is where components are pulled off of a shelf, and the chair is built around the rider based off of components that are pre-made,” Anderson said in the podcast. “Made to measure is where everything for the fabrication of that chair is done specifically for that rider. You start with a straight tube, and it’s cut, bent, mitered, and welded specifically for that rider’s exact needs.”
Black pointed out that custom-configured wheelchairs have a long history, “But we had ways to develop or move the front and the rear wheels to create better weight distribution. I think in today’s market, custom configuration becomes a problem when you’re not able to control that front caster or where that front wheel is going to be. So there’s a misnomer between the two [custom configured vs. made to measure] at this point.”
Leonard said made-to-measure’s ability to more precisely fit each rider can be crucial: “Just start with [seat] width: You’re choosing between a 15-inch and a 16-inch. The reality of my measurement is probably somewhere in between that.
“So to have the opportunity to really dial that in, working on quarter-inch increments, really makes a difference. You’re talking about maneuverability, width, somebody’s access to their environment.”