Seating Innovation! Carbon Fiber Custom Backrest and Custom Power Wheelchair Switch

Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I wanted to share some new seating products with you. Ability Health Care has begun fabrication of custom molded carbon fiber backrests. These backrests are super lightweight and have been based off of their custom plastic backrests that have worked very well for many clients. These backrests are ideal for manual wheelchair users who require a lightweight back support. The shape of the backrest is taken by plaster casting a client’s back and forming the backrest off of that cast. The only downside of this backrest is that poor Chad Kania, the seating technician at Ability Health Care has been taking the carbon fiber particles with him home. Apparently they can be quite itchy! =)

Another seating innovation I would like to share with you is a video by Wahbi Ghanbur from Advanced Mobility. He has made a flexible switch that is super sensitive to touch and can be mounted below the joystick handle on a power wheelchair…or likely anywhere else. In this video, the switch has been programmed to change the modes on the system. Check this out!

If you are interested in any of these great products please contact Ability Health Care for the backrest and Advanced Mobility for the switch directly! Thanks for checking in today!

Seating is Super!



Tilite TR Series 3 Manual Rigid Wheelchair

Hello Everyone! TGIF! Today, I would like to share with you the Tilite TR Series 3 manual rigid wheelchair. This is a popular model by Tilite and it’s also a custom ordered frame! By custom, I mean that this wheelchair has a specified fixed dump. Having a fixed dump helps to reduce the weight of the base significantly and is highly recommended for client’s who are absolutely sure of how much seat dump works for them functionally. Reducing the weight and amount of “play” in the base is also important for maintaining shoulder health as well as for efficiency when self-propelling. The one in my pictures is a carbon fiber base, which makes this base even lighter! It is by no means a cheap base, but a great choice if funds are available. On this base we set up an ADI carbon fiber backrest and a Ride Designs custom cushion. The 3rd image is the Ride capture. We also set up Frog Legs suspension forks, which can really help to absorb shock from the terrain. This can really benefit a client who experiences a lot of tone.

The ADI backrest is a nice option as it is super lightweight and has a nice contour. It’s such a shame to spec a really nice lightweight wheelchair frame, then stick a heavy backrest on it with heavy mounting hardware. I try to remember to consider some of these lightweight options when ordering a wheelchair base like this one. The Ride cushion is also a super lightweight cushion that offloads the client’s boney prominences. This is a great cushion for client’s at high risk for skin breakdown due to impaired sensation. Again, this is another expensive product but necessary for many to maintain skin integrity. In addition to this benefit, this cushion also supports the pelvis very well. Many of my clients have said that this cushion has helped to improve their postural alignment and has reduced nerve pain and discomfort. Many also report improved proximal stability and functional performance such as ability to transfer. Keep in mind that this a custom cushion that needs to be done by a “Ride Certified” technician and/or therapist. Also, keep in mind that this cushion can be highly customized. For example, for clients who need to manually transfer, the front end can be specified to be lower/flatter so that the well is not as deep. This makes moving forwards on the seat easier. Keep in mind that you might also lose a bit of well depth that way, so it is important to do these specifications with an experienced vendor. Ed Bell, from Advanced Mobility helped me with this system. Also, I wanted to share with you a custom sip and puff system that was built by Wahbi Ghanbur at Advanced Mobility. This sip and puff control has been modified to allow for control of 4 additional devices including the power base. This system will work with RNET electronics. Advanced Mobility only has a few of these available as they were custom built as a sort of in house project. They are looking for a good home. Please contact a sales representative at Advanced Mobility if you are interested in this system.

Thanks for checking in today! I will leave you with a photo…mind you, a bit of a blurry photo of me with Tom Hetzel and Joe Bieganek from Ride Designs. This photo was taken at the ISS this year. A fun pairwith a great product! Hope you don’t mind me sharing this! Until next time!

Seating is Super!


Wheelchair Accessible Vanity for Spinal Cord Injury Client

Happy Thursday Everyone! I just got back from Terrace, BC last week and have been looking forward to sharing something very special with you! A custom wheelchair accessible vanity and adapted make-up set-up. This system was made for a client with quadriplegia and was created from scratch by Chad Kania at Ability Health Care. Actually, Chad used to build custom furniture before he entered the seating technician profession. Knowing this,  I knew he would do an amazing job at building a set-up like this one. This vanity was partially funded  by the BC Rehab Foundation through GF Strong. Thank you to them for approving such a project.

This vanity had so many neat components to it. Such as a powered, height adjustable function, a cut out at the front to allow for better access, a custom elbow support for stability during make-up application, a custom mascara holder/applicator, a moveable mirror for close up make up application, and a hair dryer mount on a gooseneck post. The hair dryer will be plugged into the wall with an x10 module that will be accessed through a separate switch. As you can see from the pictures, all of the make up brushes, and hair brushes have been modified with universal cuffs and the containers have been mounted onto a wooden board with velcro for easy access.

This project was such a fun one. It was so exciting to help my client gain independence with this part of her life.

I will now leave you with a photo of my flight leaving Terrace. It was another great trip. Until next time!

Seating is Super!




Custom Modifications to Commercial Seating

Hello Everyone! I hope everyone had a great long weekend. I thought I would share some custom modifications to commercial wheelchair seating products. Often we use custom fabrication techniques to meet a client’s complex postural needs, however, it’s important to remember that commercial products can also be modified in a variety of different ways. Modifying equipment that a client already has can be a very cost effective option. Often times, simply making custom additions or changes with regards to set-up can make a huge difference to a client’s posture, comfort and function. The client that I was working with here has C5 Quadriplegia. He has a power wheelchair and commercial seating products but was feeling like he was collapsing forward through his trunk. This was affecting comfort, physical appearance and his ability to work on his computer. Another issue was that if his trunk fell forwards onto his lap when traveling in the community he wasn’t able to reach his tilt switch on his joystick. This was a concern as he needs to tilt back to re-position himself back upright independently. After completing a seating assessment and review, the following changes were made to his system: The custom modifications here, were completed by Wahbi at Advanced Mobility Products Ltd. The photos below are of a Jay 3 Backrest. Foam (I love foam!) was added to the lumbar region to improve contouring and support. In addition, the top of the backrest was heated and flared back to allow for more clearance for the client’s scapulae and upper back. Once the top of the backrest was flared, the headrest mount was spaced out to clear the top of the backrest.

The client’s armrest were also raised by 3 inches. This required custom armrest post extensions that were fabricated by Advanced Mobility.  This allowed the client to support himself  more upright by propping with his elbows. An Action gel overlay was added for pressure relief at his elbows. These were secured with velcro and could be removed by the client so that he can use them at his computer desk. The gel was originally covered, however, this made them too slippery.

In order to address the issue with access to the tilt function, a buddy button was added to the bottom of his seat pan. When this client fell forwards onto his trunk, he was easily able to reach under the seat pan to access the tilt switch. This made a significant difference for him as he would no longer need to wait for help if he ever lost positioning when traveling in the community independently.

This client also uses the back canes to hook his arms onto for support. The back canes here were cut, angled out and re-welded to allow the client hook his arms around the back with more ease. Thanks again to Advanced Mobility for the great custom modifications. I hope you enjoyed reading about this case today. I would love to hear about your creative modifications to the seating systems you are working on. Please feel free to comment or post about anything interesting you have done out there. I would love to hear about them! Thanks again for checking in.

Seating is Super!