Silver rigid frame with a low, folding backrest, height-adjustable push handles and a fixed footplate. The upholstery is black with a reflective silver piping. The cushion was supplied by NHS wheelchair services. It is black and air-filled. The wheel has silver spokes and I have added led lights. I have surge push rims which are black with a rubber strip on top.
Source of Wheelchair: NHS Wheelchair Services
This is my second manual wheelchair and my first active user chair. It has been supplied by NHS wheelchair services and I paid to upgrade the pushrims to surge ones. The chair has been made to my measurements but it is also very adjustable. I can’t change the size of the chair but I can change the centre of gravity, the backrest angle and the footplate height. This means that I can slowly adapt the chair to fit me and my needs perfectly. If I still need a wheelchair when this one comes to the end of its life, I will know exactly what settings I need and can probably go for a lighter chair with little or no adjustment.
My previous chair was a g-lite pro, folding, manual wheelchair that I bought myself. It was a good starting point but this new chair is so much better! It is incredibly comfortable. The cushion, supplied by wheelchair services, adapts itself to my shape and pressure points so I can sit for a long time without discomfort. The backrest is lower than my previous chair but it offers excellent support in the right place and doesn’t get in the way of propelling myself.
This chair is a little bit lighter (about 11kg with everything attached compared to 13kg for my previous chair) and comes apart to fit in the car. I can fold the backrest down to lie along the seat as long as I take the cushion out first! The wheels also come off so this chair can fit over a seat in the car. I think it is on a par with the folding chair in terms of ease of getting it into the car. In the future, I would like an even lighter chair which would make this even easier.
When it comes to moving around in this chair, life is so much better! It has a very small turning circle – I can spin on the spot if I want to. It is easier to propel and I think this is because it has been designed for me and I now have Schwalbe marathon plus tyres, which are air filled, rather than solid ones. The tyre type is an option when you order the chair. I had heard that air filled gives a smoother ride and these have a reinforced section that mean they are unlikely to puncture. I do have to keep them at the right pressure and bought a pump with a pressure gauge so I can do this at home. The wheels are lightweight (another option when ordering) which helps keep the overall weight down.
This chair moves very well on smooth surfaces, however gravel, cobbles or bad paving is another story! I have 5 inch castors which are on the large side but they don’t handle uneven ground well. To deal with this I have bought myself a Freewheel which attaches to my footplate and pushes my castors just off the ground. It has its own 12in wheel with a mountain bike tread. It means I can handle going off road a little and I went round York Christmas Market, including going through the Shambles which is all cobbled roads! It does extend the length of the wheelchair so it’s not useful in confined spaces but it also comes with an attachment so you can hang it on the back of your chair when you’re not using it.
I asked NHS wheelchair services for adjustable push handles because I am frequently pushed by people of varying heights. Fatigue is one of the reasons I am using a wheelchair so it’s not realistic for me to self-propel most of the time. I wanted to make sure that whoever is pushing me, can do so comfortably, and not risk their own health. The other advantage to me is that they can be set completely out of the way if I am out on my own so complete strangers can’t grab them!
Overall, this wheelchair has made a big difference to my quality of life. It has increased my comfort when I am out of the house – especially if I have a long wait for an appointment – because the seating supports me well. It has also increased my confidence and independence because I can push myself in certain environments and it looks good. I was able to choose the colour of the frame and I can decorate to my taste – the led fairy lights are pretty and practical, making me more visible in the dark. It isn’t perfect, I would love it to be lighter and a power assist would be amazing, but it is the right chair for me right now while I am learning to use an active chair and it can be adjusted as I gain more experience. I would highly recommend this chair to anyone starting out as an active user or with changing variable needs.