As positive an attitude, I have towards most things this lockdown is starting to eat away at me. One of the reasons I love my job is the one-on-one interactions I have with therapists, customers and manufacturers. Not only do I love to learn about people’s stories, but I also enjoy helping them to figure out solutions to get them more active. Ultimately that’s what we’re about at GTK, helping people to be the best versions of themselves.
The next big-ticket item on my AT list is the Alber Smoov and a Smart Drive. A friend of mine gave me his Smart Drive but it’s not suitable for street use in my situation. I use it when I opt for my off-road manual wheelchair, in places the X8 isn’t suitable. I feel like the Smart Drive handles gravel, grass and rough surfaces better than the Smoov. The Smart Drive definitely has its place, but it is designed for an experienced wheelchair user, someone who is very confident in their skills, in my opinion. I don’t tend to use it in tight spaces or with my kids on my lap.
The Smoov is what I use when I need to shoot down to the shops with a kid on my lap or go for a walk with the family. It’s great when my son is learning to ride his bike, or we take the scooters down to the lake path. I use it to go to the surf club for a coffee because it means I don’t have to go through the process of getting in and out of my car. It’s better in tight, delicate situations where control is the highest priority. The control I have over my speed and its reliability are key features in my decision to get one. In the two years, I have had one my shoulder pain has improved, and I am much more motivated to get outside and tackle the hills that surround us.
On the market presently there is a plethora of choice when it comes to power assist devices. It’s almost overwhelming. I bet that a lot of your clients are wanting these devices. They’ve done their research and they know exactly what they want. So, it’s important for you to keep ahead of the game here.
Essentially, I believe you get what you pay for but besides price there are many more things to consider including how independent the user is in attaching the device, how much weight the docking system adds to the chair, how fast it goes, how much torque it has, how is it going to be transported and how reliable is it. I like my Smoov for many reasons but as with most things AT it doesn’t tick all the boxes and this leads me to think that I would also benefit greatly from something different. So, therefore, it’s important to trial a wide range of options.
Power assist for a manual wheelchair user is an essential piece of AT in my opinion. Without it, I would literally have to drive everywhere in my community. There are no footpaths where I live and the camber on the side of the road is prohibitive for me to push along. Plus, it’s hilly. So, with the Smoov I have taken away the burden I’m placing on my shoulders and I am much more motivated to do stuff because it’s so much easier than either pushing my chair or using my car.
So those were the bigger, powered, and I guess you could say leisure based AT items that have had a big impact on my ability to be an interactive dad. However, the next bit of AT is probably the most important.
But I’ll save that for next week.
Until then, be safe.