Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Help! Wheelchair modifications, anyone?

I know I need to catch up a little--but this first. I've been putting off this request for some time, mostly b/c it "could wait". Now I feel like I'm running out of time.

Elena has a manual wheelchair, an old Quickie. She doesn't use it very often. Typically, we always bring it traveling, or if we know we'll have to walk more than a mile at a time without many breaks.

When we were at the beach last year, I met a very nice couple who I saw going on a ride. A man (Harold) was in a wheelchair, similar to Elena's, putting on an attachment. His wife was on a bike. Then they both took off quickly---I ran them down, begging to ask them about his device. They were so sweet, not only did they tell me about it, we rode back to our beach house so Elena could check it out.

This device is called The Firefly. It attaches to the front of a manual wheelchair, literally in seconds, and the chair operates like a scooter. Harold said it changed his life completely! His weighs 13 pounds, he can pack it as a carry-on on an airplane, he can put it on the chair in 20 seconds, and it can go 25 miles/hr so he can keep up with his wife as she rides her bike!


Firefly (from their website)


I thought about getting one for Elena, but I saw two main issues: she has to operate it independently, and I worry about the top speed being WAY too fast. I am pretty sure in order to get out of the chair, the Firefly has to be removed (untested--definitely true for an adult). I wasn't sure why we would really need one, as Elena doesn't use her chair much, and when she does, she's typically with me.

Elena's in high school. I can appreciate she doesn't want me, or any adult, always pushing her (she doesn't push the chair herself b/c she uses it when she's tired and needs to rest). If E is on a school trip and has the chair, I really don't want another student having to push her--if someone WANTS to, that's fine, but it shouldn't be their JOB. And E is tired of always being "the teen with the grown-up" on a field trip.

I thought maybe we'd try one out next fall. Or sooner, if we knew of a trip that she might go on, where I might possibly not chaperone.

That trip was announced the first month of school. It's in March 2020.

I'm working to see if we can try one out. Has anyone out there used something like this? If so, what did you like? Is there a different model you prefer? Is there one that can "swing out" so getting in and out of the chair is easier? I think this could be the key for Elena to be independent, over long distances, and be able to spend time with peers without a hulking adult presence.  Please comment!

2 comments:

Danielle said...

There's another attachment called a SmartDrive Elena could try. It attaches to the back so it doesn't need to be removed for transfers. It also has a lower top speed, and doesn't require as much coordination in terms of steering. I don't have one on my manual chair, because I have a power chair, so it's redundant. But many people find them very helpful. You can probably try one through a mobility equipment dealer.

I use a FreeWheel to help with terrain when I'm outdoors in my manual chair, but I'm working on long-distance self-propulsion, so that probably is not what Elena needs.

Anonymous said...

My first instinct would be for Elena to get a motorized scooter. I have an EZ rider scooter. You charge the battery before the field trip and it lasts for hours. E can drive it herself. So long as it's not raining or snowing and on somewhat flat ground like pavement or wood in works great. I'm not familiar at all with manual attachments.