TiLite ZRA Series 2

Last month, via their facebook page,  TiLite gave us a preview of the Series 2 ZRA expected to release later this month.

The new release of the very popular ZRA has an updated look and some great new options, that once again raise the bar in wheelchair performance and style.Caster Housing - ZRA Series 2

The most noticable changes were made to the caster housing. As you can see the caster housing is more oval and is easier to adjust caster angle. The single sided fork also cuts down on the amount of dirt and particles that can get caught between caster and fork saving time when cleaning.

A few other notable changes:

  • Redesigned Axle Plate (4″ rear seat height adjustment and up to 6″ of COG)
  • New Backrest Bracket (20 degrees of adjustment)
  • Choice of two frame types (the lighter .045 wall tubing or standard .065 )

ZRA Series 2The ZRA Series 2 will feature the same options you’ve come to expect from TiLite including 6 anodized color options and the exclusive Tattooed Titanium frame finishs. The Series 2 chairs included an expected release of the ZR (details to come) still showcase the style and performance of lightweight titanium. And why not when you spend all day in a chair it’s important to have a style representative of you.

Check back for futher updates as we get closer to the official launch.

More info on the original ZRA

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Paralympic Curler Augusto Perez

The 2010 paralympic games recently wrapped up. By all reports, although limited, it seemed to be a well run event. The US paralympic team did well, placing 5th overall in the metal count.

Even as an avid Olympic viewer, prior to this years event in Vancouver, I hadn’t followed the paralympics, and had little understanding of Wheelchair Curling. My interest in the sport was peaked when we were approached and asked to support one of the wheelchair curlers.

We were proud to support US paralympic athlete Augusto Perez, by supplying him with a set of D’s Locks for his curling chair.

Augusto “Goose” Perez, 35, has represented Team USA twice in the winter paralympic games. His first time on the team (Torino 2006) came only months after his first time ever trying the sport. Goose an avid soccer player, lost his left leg after 3 bouts with a rare cancer soft tissue sarcoma.

It’s safe to say Goose excelled at wheelchair curling, because in 2008 he was named USA Curling Male Athlete of the Year. This would mark the first time a wheelchair curler had been given the honor.

Goose Perez with Twins
Goose Perez with Twins

The 2008 award wasn’t Goose’s first time breaking sporting barriers. In the same year he was the first athlete with a physical disability to win gold in the outrigger canoe 500m sprint, at the World Championships.

When Goose isn’t on the ice, he would most likely be found playing with his twin children.

For Goose, like many other paralympic athletes, the love of sports and an active lifestyle don’t end with the closing ceremony. Wherever he goes, Goose trusts D’s Locks to secure his chair.

For more on Augusto visit his website Stumpede Sports. See more on Team USA at the official website: US Paralympic Team

Great commercial for the e-motion power assist wheels!

E-motions offer some great functionality for wheelchair users who need a little extra push but want to continue using a manual chair.  I stumbled along this funnycommercial for the e-motions on youtube. I figured I’d share it with you guys.


Two thumbs up to the team at Alber, the manufacturer of E-motions! For more information on these great devices see e-motions

EzEnabler Review

EzEnabler
EzEnabler Wheelchair Accesory

I’ve often struggled to find a tray table that I could easily use on my wheelchair. I don’t use armrests on my Quickie GT, so there isn’t a way to mount the vast majority of trays on the market.  I resorted to just carrying and balancing things on my lap. I constantly dropped phones, keys etc. but it was more convenient to reach over and pick them up than deal with bulky trays.

Few weeks ago, I was introduced to the EzEnabler. The EzEnabler is an accessory kit for wheelchairs that is portable and would function without armrests. The kit includes a cup holder, multipurpose hook, and an 11.5” x 9.75” tray table. It also has 3 poles (7”, 9”, &14”) that can be used in any combination to ensure proper height. The best part of the kit is that it is portable.

I have found the EzEnabler to be extremely helpful. I use it for cooking, household duties like laundry and cleaning, shopping, and even grabbing the next round of drinks for the friends at the bar. When I’m done with the tray I can put the entire kit in the included transport bag, leaving only the receiver on the frame.

  Pros:

  • Quad friendly to install and adjust
  • Versatile
  • Portable
  • Included bag doubles well as backpack

Cons:

  • While the poles have a smooth finish the clamp is unfinished which is noticeable to us style conscious.
  • Tray is a little small *

*New tray sizes and options are in the works and should be available soon.

 More Info:
Product Page
Installation Video

Grade Aids

I’ve taken great pride in being a C6 quadriplegic who is able to use a manual chair as my primary chair. There are many reasons why I have preferred using a manual chair. For me, it is much easier to get around places locally. Most of which only meet the minimun requirements for “accessibility.”  I’ve also always felt it easier to relate to people I meet, in the manual chair, more so than a power chair.

It hasn’t always been the easier option. One aspect of using a manual chair that can be quite difficult for us “quads” is hills. Most ramps are shallow enough, but it seems inevitable that I’ll be out with friends checking out a new place, or on that first date to the movies, and I’ll have to roll up a hill that’s too steep. For me, Grade Aids have been invaluable.

I originally bought a pair of grade aids because I had a converted mini-van with a slide out ramp, and I needed to be able to drive myself. Driving was easy enough, and so was the transfer from my chair to the driver seat. I just didn’t have enough strength to get all the way up the ramp without rolling back. So it was suggested that I get grade aids.

Grade AidsGrade aids are a simple device that when “engaged” (fancy way of saying you flip tab down) it allows the wheel to roll forward but will stop it from rolling backward. The simple device can be attached by itself or with push to lock wheel locks to almost any wheelchair frame. To engage the grade aids you simple push down on the tab so that the teeth on the underside come into contact with the tire.

When engaged the wheel locks do add extra resistance making it a little harder to to push forward, but allow you to stop at anytime without fear of rolling back down the hill. This greatly reduces the overall effort.

I also use my grade aids as a compliment to my D’s Locks when transfering to add an extra level of stability. The grade aids have been an excellent device for me and may be helpful for you.

The Benefit of Adjustable Wheelchairs

I was talking with a customer yesterday who is looking to purchase a new wheelchair. He likes the TiLite “Z” series but wasn’t sure about the differences between the ZR and the ZRa.

TiLite ZR
TiLite ZR

The ZR and ZRA are identical in every respect except one. The difference is the axle plate on the ZRA is adjustable whereas the ZR axle plate is not. With the ZRA you can adjust the center of gravity, and the rear seat height. These measurements can be hard to determine when ordering a chair because each person is different so there is no quick answer to which measurement is best. 

TiLite ZRA fully adjustable wheelchair
TiLite ZRA
Center of Gravity, and rear seat height are measurements based on individual comfort and function. The only way to really know if you’ve got the correct measurement is to try different settings and see which feels best. Without an adjustable chair you may have to spend 5 years in a less than optimal position before you can afford to get another chair.

With adjustable chairs like the ZRA it takes only about 15 minutes to move the center of gravity. The greatest part about adjustable wheelchairs is you get added function without sacrificing style or paying any more. I always recommend a chair that is adjustable because you can play around with those measurements as often as you’d like until you find the fit that is right for you.

Wheelchair Measuring Guide

You’ve spent months researching which new wheelchair you want to buy. You’ve considered the function, price, and style of many popular models, and have decided on a chair that best fits your needs. Maybe you’re going to go with the new TiLite Aero Z. Or maybe you are opting for a power assist chair like the Tailwind to give you that extra independence without sacrificing style. Now that you’ve decided you get to the order form and realize you’ve just begun.

Measuring a wheelchair can seem difficult especially for new wheelchair users. I know for me it  was always difficult because I couldn’t afford to get the measurements wrong.  Below is a  guide that hopefully will clear up some of your questions.
 
While each manufacturer may have the measurements in a different order, or under slightly different names, the measurements are universal for all manual wheelchairs.
Chair Measurement Diagram
Chair Measurement Diagram

A.     Seat Width – Measure from the outside of one leg to the outside of other leg at widest point. Generally the widest point will be at the hips. You then want to add an inch to allow for comfort. * Use the same measurement for cushion width when purchasing a cushion for your chair.

B.     Seat Depth – Measure from the furthest back point of the users hips to the back of the knee, while seated in normal position. This measurement is then reduced, based on individual comfort, to allow space between the leg and seat cushion.  The general rule is to reduce the measurement by 2” but this can vary for each user.

C.     Front Seat Height – Measure the lower leg length (underside of the leg at the bend of the knee to bottom of heel with shoes on) and then reduce by the cushion height.  Then add a minimum of 2” of clearance for footrest. If using a 4” cushion and your lower leg length measures 19”, then your front seat height would need to be a minimum of 17” (19 – 4 + 2). When choosing a front seat height it is important choose a height that accommodates transfers and allows users to easily fit under tables or desks.  So while a 17” may be the minimum you may want a 21” front seat height for users to transfer into car. Be sure to compensate for seat cushion.  

D.     Rear Seat Height –The difference of front seat height to rear seat height is called “dump”. In a chair with 0” dump, or identical front and rear seat heights, the hips and knees will be parrallel. By lowering the rear seat height the users knees are raised above their hips by the difference. This can be an effective way of adding stability and ease of push for patients.  Also being lower in the back puts the user closer to the ground which can be useful for picking up things off floor or low shelves.

E.     Seat to Footrest –This can be the found by measuring the lower leg length and subtracting cushion height. Raising the footrest (reducing seat to footrest measurement) will raise users knees in relation to your hips which may help with stability but will, in general, cause the legs to bend out more as well.

F.     Footrest Width – Measure from outside of one shoe to outside of other and add an inch for comfort. The feet should be spaced apart to user comfort and should be done using shoes that will customarily be worn.

G.     Rear Wheel Spacing – This is the space between the seat frame and the rear wheel. Measure from the outside of the back post to the inside of rear wheel.

H.     Front Angle – The front angle is the degree of bend from the top of seat frame to the floor. This measurement is the same as the degree of bend in the users knee in relation to their foot. For example a 90° front angle would mean your feet are perpendicular with your upper leg.

I.     Seat Back Height – Measure from seating surface to the point in users back that is high enough to provide necessary support. Be sure to compensate for cushion height.

J.     Seat Back Angle – This is the measurement of the back rest post in relation to seat frame. A negative angle would result in user leaning forward while a positive will result in a reclined position.

K.    Center of Gravity – The center of gravity is measured as the distance from the center of axle tube (middle of wheel) to the front of the back post. This relationship determines the distribution of the user’s weight. Increasing the center of gravity (moving the axle further forward from back post) will increase the ease of pushing the chair. However, this does also increase the “tippyness” of the chair. There is a risk of flipping the chair over if center of gravity is too far forward. Decreasing center of gravity will make pushing harder but will make it less likely chair will tip over. A good rule for new users is to align the axle  directly under users hips in proper seated position.

 One other very important measurement to consider is the overall width of the chair. You want to ensure the chair isnt too wide to fit through doors around the house or at work. This measurement is done by adding the seat width, the rear wheel spacing and the width of wheels. A standard 24″ x 1 3/8″ wheel width handrims adds 6″ to overall seat width.