Rigid frame with a hard shell Jay backrest that is low in height. Quick-release Spinergy SPOX rear wheels, light up front castors and a Jay EasyVisco seat cushion. Frame comes in many colours (mine is bright turquoise) and has a variety of add ons available at an additional cost.
Source of Wheelchair:
Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) & Hypotonia
Frame Benefits: The frame is super light, which means with the wheels off the chair is very easy to lift – even for me and I have dodgy shoulders. The low weight of the frame also makes self-propelling the chair really easy. I love the open frame design, as it is very minimalist, and makes the frame sit easily on the seats of my car when transporting it. The rigid frame is pretty robust, I am a very active user and have definitely put it through its paces but it has held up really well. Frame Drawbacks: The tubing of the frame is quite thick, so this may not appeal aesthetically to some users – however this is a very minor flaw, everything else about the frame is great.
Wheels Benefits: The quick-release wheels are very useful, they pop off super easily which helps with fitting the chair in a car. I have Spinergy SPOX wheels which have 18 spokes made from carbon fibre. I have been told that the carbon fibre spokes are much lighter than regular steel spokes, but also much stronger. Spinergy wheels are also a very smooth ride, as the carbon fibre absorbs a lot of impact from any bumps in the ground such as cobbles or uneven ground. I highly recommended Spinergy wheels to any active-user – after using Spinergy wheels I don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular wheels as the difference is amazing. They are much lighter, easy to self propel, shock-absorbing, and they look good too! I also have Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires which seem to be very durable and good on a variety of types of ground. They are also punctured resistant too which is very helpful. Being air tyres they are also lighter than solid tyres. I opted to have the wheels set quite far forward to enable easy wheelies (for getting over bumps/up kerbs etc). But the wheels can be set further back to reduce the tippiness of the chair, and it is possible to fit anti-tippers for extra safety. I currently have one anti-tipper as I’m still mastering how to do wheelies safely, but the single anti-tipper is more than enough to stop me tipping backwards if I go a bit too far with a wheelie.
Wheel Drawbacks: The only drawback to the Spinergy wheels is that they are pretty expensive. The SPOX wheels are around £350 a pair, and the LX wheels (they only have 12 spokes and are even lighter) are around £550 a pair. These are significantly more expensive than regular wheels, but in my opinion, they are worth it if you can afford them.
Push Handles: I do not have any push handles because most of the time I self propel. However, I wish I had got some push handles as there are times when I need a bit of help propelling (hills or rough ground) but I don’t have any way for someone to help me other than bending down pushing the bar on the back of the chair. Unless you are a very strong, independent user I would recommend getting push handles! Even if you get fold-down ones or height-adjustable ones that can be folded away.
Seat Cushion Benefits: The Jay EasyVisco seat cushion is very comfortable, and it is not too firm which I like. However, it still gives good postural support, and is contoured to position the hips properly and stop you sliding around the seat! It is made from a similar material to memory foam.
Seat Cushion Drawbacks: It is very hot and sweaty to sit on in the summer as the cover is polyester.
Jay Shell Back Benefits: I LOVE my Jay shell back. It provides fantastic postural support to my lumbar spine, which is an area I am weak in. It is not very tall, but because it gives such good support to my lower back, it doesn’t actually need to be any taller. This is because the proper positioning of my lower back is enough to stop me from slouching as a whole. It is also very comfortable and has reduced my back pain massively.
Jay Shell Back Drawbacks: Compared to a simple tension adjustable back which can be folded down easily, the shell back is a bit tricky to remove. It does come off, but it is not as simple as pulling a release string and folding it down. Luckily because my back is so low, I don’t actually remove it very often as it fits in the car even with the back still attached. But if you were going to get a higher back, it may be more annoying if it is hard to remove when you want to put your chair in the car. For me, the comfort and postural support of the shell back outweighs its ease of removal.
Aluminum Mudguard Benefits: The mudguards are great, they have saved my clothes from getting wet and dirty in bad weather and also stop my clothes from getting caught in the wheels. They are removable and adjustable too. There are no drawbacks to this part!
Overall Impression: The Quickie Helium is a fab high-end wheelchair, and would be good for someone who is looking for a robust, active user chair that is easy to propel and manoeuvre, whilst also being very comfortable. The chair is very lightweight, which makes it easy to use and lift, and the rigid frame design makes it strong and durable. This chair is reasonably adjustable over time, as you can adjust the footplate height, rear-wheel position and footplate height from the seat. You can also swap out your backrest for a different one pretty easily. This makes it a good chair for a new user who hasn’t yet worked out how they want their chair configured, as it may change as you become a more experienced user. The chair is nice and compact, with a 90-degree frame angle at the front. This makes it easy to fit in small spaces and gives it a nice compact turning circle – I can turn it 360 degrees on the spot. The rigid frame and compact style make it very easy to fit into cars, all you need is a spare seat and you can place this chair on that once you’ve popped the wheels off. It will also fit in the boots of larger estate cars and 4X4s. Another benefit is that this model of chair is very aesthetically customisable, you can get it in an array of different colours. This chair would not be suitable for someone looking to buy a chair on a budget, prices range from £2500 to £4500 depending on which add ons you need such as Spinergy wheels and postural backrest/seating.
I went from a 2nd hand, folding chair to this Quickie Helium and the difference it has made is amazing. I have so much more independence now, as I can easily self propel this chair, and lift it into my car myself. I love how robust this chair is compared to my old one, and how much more comfortable it is too. Highly recommend this chair if you are looking for a stylish, lightweight, active-user wheelchair.