The Right StuffBy Cooper, Rory A.; Cooper, Rosemarie; Sports 'N Spokes, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 11-15
Publication Date: March 2010
Article discusses factors to consider in choosing an ultralight wheelchair. An ultralight wheelchair is defined as a manual chair weighing less than 25 pounds complete with components. The influence of frame materials, including steel, aluminum, titanium, and composites, on overall weight is discussed. The advantages of various frame types are outlined, including the lightweight rigid versions which tend to have the best rolling properties, folding frames which allow for easier storage and are better at absorbing surface irregularities, and suspension chairs which are often chosen by users traveling on uneven ground. The importance of a proper fitting is discussed, including the possible necessity of multiple chairs to meet a variety of sports, work, and everyday needs. Regarding equipment reliability and durability, two studies by the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) of the University of Pittsburgh are cited, one exploring the relationship between manual wheelchair fatigue life and year of manufacture, which suggested that the durability and relative value of manual wheelchairs may have peaked around the year 2000; and the other, comparing the durability of titanium-frame chairs to those made from aluminum, which showed no significant differences, indicating that frame material alone does not directly affect equipment durability. The authors recommend selecting an ultralight model that complies with standards established by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) and having a RESNA credentialed supplier assist with fitting, maintenance, repair, and replacement.
Published by: PVA Publications (Website:http://www.pvamagazines.com)
Paralyzed Veterans of America (Web Site: http://www.pva.org )