What ultimately makes an ultralightweight wheelchair successful for its rider?
A new RGK-sponsored podcast at Mobility Management examines that question via a conversation with a seating clinician and two industry veterans who are also long-time wheelchair riders.
Sarah Leonard, PT, DPT, ATP, RGK’s Clinical Educator for the Northeast, acknowledged that many riders routinely focus on ultralight frame weight or frame materials, but said in the podcast, “When you look at configuration, there’s so many things that can be done to optimize the system before we even have the weight conversation. What we need to talk about more is the weight distribution within the system, how that impacts propulsion efficiency, and how we can reduce rolling resistance.”
Jim Black, RGK’s Director of Strategic Accounts & Business Sales, as well as a wheelchair rider, agreed: “Weight isn’t always just the frame or just the material. Understanding the configuration is a vital key in how it relates to riders’ health and wellness.” Black referenced understanding “the wheelbase, the occupied frame length,” and added, “Now it’s all about proportion and really reducing rolling resistance. And that’s controlling the frame, the front wheels and the rear wheels.”
Josh Anderson, VP of Business Development for RGK and Sunrise Medical, described what he wants his experience to be as a wheelchair rider: “I have an Apple Watch, and you can measure how many times you push per day. That’s only half the equation. I want to push less and go further.
“OSHA [Occupational Health & Safety Administration] defines anything that’s high risk as repetitive movement of 900 times-plus in a single day. The average wheelchair rider pushes their chair 2,600 to 3,500 times per day. So they’re well beyond what’s high risk. But how far did I go with those 3,500 pushes in a day?”
Listen to the podcast — Rolling Dynamics, Rolling Resistance & Optimizing Wheeled Prosthetics — or catch the first episode, Exploring RGK’s Made-to-Measure Mission — on the Mobility Management Web site. The entire podcast library can be accessed in Mobility Management’s Podcast Center.