Firefly Wheelchair Powered Attachment


Type of Attachment or Accessory: 
Attachment

Item Name:
Firefly Powered Attachment

Tell us what your attachment looks like: 
This attachment has a silver rigid frame with two handlebars, brakes and leavers; one for acceleration and one for reverse. It also has a bell, screen display and quick charging battery that is easy to plug in and disconnect. The wheel at bottom of the attachment is medium sized, allowing you to go over uneven surfaces. There are also two hooks that clip onto a specific bracket, which can attach to the legs of your wheelchair.

How did you get this attachment: 
Fundraised/GoFundMe

Where did you get this attachment: 
John Preston

What would you rate this Attachment, Additional Part or Accessory: 

★★★★★

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This item makes me more comfortable?
Strongly Agree

This item is easy to put on and take off?
Agree

This item is easy to transport?
Agree

It is easy to carry the item?
Disagree

This item is great off road?
Strongly Agree

This item can easily be adapted?
Agree 

Please explain how you attach/remove the item from your wheelchair or scooter:
The device hooks onto to my wheelchair via a simple 2-point attachment system, which makes it very quick and easy to attach and detach the device. We attached two small brackets on the front legs of my wheelchair, which then have two small pins on the side. The Firefly then has two small hooks on either side that simply sit over the pins/brackets on my wheelchair that can then be locked into place. It can be tricky to guide the hooks onto such a small target, but after some practice it has become easier. I then put both hands in the center of the handlebars and push backwards. This lifts up the two caster wheels at the front of my wheelchair, so that the single tire on the Firefly can comfortably go over uneven surfaces. For this to happen your wheelchair tips backwards slightly, which is surprisingly not uncomfortable as you are still sat in the same position. Finally, to secure the device you simply flick the leavers on each side of the attachment and you are ready to roll! Then to remove the device you simply pull back the leavers, lower your wheelchair and lift the device off. I am then usually able to lean forward and place it on the floor, but because it isn’t too heavy it is very easy to pass it sideways to someone else.

Do you struggle to be in your wheelchair or scooter without this item?
Yes

How long does the battery last?
Up to 15 miles

Personal Opinion:

After years of waiting, in September 2017 I finally received a call to say I had been matched with an assistance dog. One month later after an intense training course, I brought my beautiful Canine Partner home. As someone who can only self-propel a very short distance, meaning I typically depended on a carer to push me; I wanted to be able to independently walk my dog. Due to the nature of my disability, I can’t use an attachment that involves repeatedly moving my arms (e.g. a Wheelchair Hand Bike). Therefore, I opted for a Firefly Electric Wheelchair Power Attachment, by Rio Mobility. This device allows me to go anywhere, regardless of whether the terrain is rough or there is a steep gradient. I needed to make some adaptations to one of my wheelchairs to support the attachment, and to ensure I was as comfortable as possible whilst going off road. In order to do this, I had to crowdfund the cost, which was something I was extremely nervous about. However, I am so glad I decided to do this, as I can now safely take my assistance dog out on my own. So, to anyone who may be contemplating the idea of raising money for medical equipment, I think you should just go for it as you cannot put a price on your quality of life/independence!

Before purchasing the attachment, I contacted John Preston who provided me with a lot of information about the device over the phone, as well as checking whether my wheelchair was compatible with the attachment. They then came to do a home assessment, to ensure this was the right device for me. The representative also brought a wheelchair that was similar to my own, with an attachment fixed on for me to try out. This is something I was very grateful for, as it can be extremely difficult to find a device that perfectly fits your requirements. It can also be tricky to find somewhere that is local to you home, which will allow you to test drive these devices. If I can remember correctly, you have to have a manual wheelchair, with a rigid frame; or a folding frame that doesn’t have removable/swing away footplates. Once I raised enough money I simply got back in touch with the company to order the Firefly, which then arrived about a week later! I must admit, it was extremely difficult to assemble the attachment and it took my carer quite some time. There was also one part that arrived damaged; but after getting back in touch to complain and providing photo evidence, a replacement part arrived within a few days. Once everything was set up, I knew how to attach the Firefly to my wheelchair because I was shown during my home assessment.

This device is really simply to operate and has a small display attached to the handlebars that has 3 small buttons. One to turn the display on, then one arrow pointing up and the other pointing down that are used to adjust the speed. The top speed is 12mph, which is great fun when you are in a clear open space, but you certainly don’t need to go that fast when going most places! The handlebars are really easy to grip and support your hands very well. I find them very comfy to hold onto and I like that I can alter the angle of the handlebars. You also have two brakes above the handlebars, which are easy to use and are also adjustable. You then have a little leaver under each handlebar that I gently press with my thumb; one to go forward and one to go backwards. I was apprehensive about this feature, because I unsure how comfortable it would be to keep my thumb on the leaver. But I was quickly reassured as you can alter the angle of the leaver, meaning I only have to apply a tiny bit of pressure. The attachment arrived with the forward leaver on the righthand side, and the backwards leaver on the left. But, it is very easy to swap the cables over if you would prefer to have the leavers the other way around. Finally, on the opposite side to the display you have a small bell that has surprisingly come in very handy!

The main part of the attachment is very compact in comparison to similar devices and is very easy to clip on and off a wheelchair. The battery clips onto the slim silver pole that goes from the handlebars, down to the wheel. It is a lightweight lithium battery that has a range of approximately 15 miles. You can purchase an additional battery, but I find one more that manageable. You simply plug the wire into the top of the battery pack and can leave it to charge either on the attachment or after disconnecting it. It is very easy to detach the battery and it take 4 hours to fully charge. I often take my charger out to top up the battery if I know I am going to be out for a long period of time.

As the process of attaching the device to my wheelchair is simple and the device is compact, it makes it very easy to transport. I can honestly say that my assistance dog takes up more room in my car than the Firefly does! To make my trips off road even more comfortable, I chose to swap out my Proton Wheels for the Quickie Mountain Bike Wheels. Collectively, the attachment and the wider wheels have made a HUGE difference for me, but it is more than comfortable without changing the large wheels on your wheelchair.

Overall, I would highly recommend this attachment to anyone who wants the independence that a power chair brings, without having to give up your manual wheelchair. It is also great for people with a disability that can fluctuate in symptoms, because you can easily alter several parts of the attachment. Something so small really can make all the difference to your comfort levels! It feels great to be able to independently walk my assistance dog, and I love nothing more than zooming alongside her. She defiantly enjoys running alongside her me, as I am usually the slow one so it is a real treat for her! I spent a lot of time researching the various types of powered wheelchair attachments and the Firefly definitely came out on top in terms of price, size, weight and the fact I could attach and detach it myself.

Reviewer: Lauren
Disability or Medical Condition: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome 

CLICK HERE to read about the Manual Wheelchair (Quickie Helium) featured in this review!

CLICK HERE to read another review written by Lauren on a Quickie Xenon (Manual Wheelchair)


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