Thursday, March 20, 2014

So...About Those Wheels?

Earlier this past fall I wrote a post lamenting the fact that I am, again, 100% wheelchair dependent. I went on and on about feelings of anguish and frustration, and really didn't go into any further info as to why I chose this chair, what the features are, and why I have the add ons that I do.

In the winter I thought, as I was becoming more and more used to the chair not as a vile enemy to be rid of -- but merely another item that is merely an aide for my day to day living -- that I should post a bit about the chair itself.

This is that post, now written in the springtime.


This is my chair, minus the anti-tips. I took them off, one because they look like gimpy training wheels, the other? They're not that functional at all.

This is a wheelchair manufactured by TiLite, called the Aero Z series II. I promise I'm not going to confuse you with the specifications, since they won't mean much to a lot of people, plus the fact that the specs are up to one's physical therapist as well as wheelchair clinic. There is an option of buying online, but even if you guess the correct specs by some chance, get ready because you're going to be out several thousand dollars.

In other words: keep the professional work to the professionals.

The seat width is 14 inches. Which, as a PT in hospital pointed out, is a measurement used in pediatric chairs. This can be used in the pediatric population, but is meant as an adult chair (as in, it is presented to someone of 26 years of age. If this were a Quickie then I would have to be choosing from the small selection of children's chairs).

If you look at the back, it doesn't sit very high. Why is this? Well, think about it. I'm in this chair any time I am not laying down or sitting on another surface. How do you think I get dressed in the morning? I don't have magic "standing up" powers just so I can put on a pair of jeans and I'm not cleared to modify by using a walker. The low chair back makes maneuvers needed for getting dressed, opening doors, and so many other independent actions easier than if the chair had full back. Full backs are nice for those who aren't able to do much for themselves, and they are also good for those who don't rely on their chair all of the time (as in, those who have certain conditions resulting in exercise intolerance...and by that I don't mean aversions to climbing stairs or walking across the parking lot, so get off the grocery store scooter and use those perfectly good legs).

For the side: do those look like arm rests? Sort of. Except they're too high up for that function. What they're really meant for typically looks like this


Yep! Push handles! They're very large and honestly, I almost never need them...so I take them off


Can you see how the seat is sloped in the front? It's referred to as a tapered cushion (the brand is called RoHo high-profile, which is a better choice for paras as one literally sits around all day, the only instance where you could say "Man all I did was sit around all day! I got so much done!"), which is very nice for transferring from surface to chair, but also puts less pressure on the back since the legs sit a bit more loosely.

Speaking of loose sitting legs...you don't want them so loose they're going every which way, so here's a contraption called a leg strap


The back fits around the calf, the front holds the shin in place so there's also front support. However, they are sort of hard to get in and out of if you're in a hurry (I often am), and I usually take it of. 

Probably not the smartest choice.

You know your first car? Well, I never learned to drive. And even if I ever did learn how, it's illegal since I have a pretty invasive seizure disorder. It's considered too dangerous. But this doesn't mean I don't have my own preference as far as wheels and tires go!


In the world of rigid chairs, you need to look at Spinergy wheels. The precision in steering is so insanely accurate that when I first switched to this from my old Quickie GPV I almost flung myself out of my chair from using too much force turning corners. I mean, it never happened, but it makes for some interesting stories when making fun of myself in all the blunders I plod through.

You may notice the tread of the tire. This is because Missouri roads are horrible, and in the months between September-April ice is not unheard of. These particular tires are called Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, which are more rugged and do things like plow through grass and mud efficiently (classy, right?).

What if your back gets sore? What is you need more or less tension? Well, we thought of that, which is how this setup came to be


Fold the cover up and over...


All that velcro allows for the user to adjust where there is more or less tension. There's even velcro within the velcro, in case you're really uncomfortable or really bored so you decided to pull on things for a bit and the crunching sound of those surfaces are somehow pleasing to you (I hate it, which is why I only adjust the back when absolutely necessary).

Other features not present: the rear tires pop off, and the back folds down for easy transport. This particular chair is just under 17 pounds, which terms this chair as "ultralight". The fact that the frame itself is all in one solid form rather than a bunch of bits gives it the description of a "rigid" wheelchair.

Insurance does cover the Aero Z series II...but only for certain diagnoses. You may or may not have to beat up your insurance over this one. I didn't, but the term paraplegic does sort of give you more options...which in this case, I'm not so happy about that. But I do appreciate the fact that I didn't have to wait weeks and weeks beyond the customization (as in, it came in a week...not arguing with the faceless Insurance Company for a week or two and then waiting another week).

TiLite customer service is great, and if this matters to you, this chair is all product of the states.

So that's how I roll ;)   


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