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

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Vitaglide vs Uppertone

Both the Uppertone and the Vitaglide are well designed fitness machines for wheelchair users. So how do you know which to choose for you?
 I think it depends on the type of workout you want and the fitness goal. Both will build muscle and thus help lose weight but they do it differently.

VitaGlide
VitaGlide Wheelchair Fitness Machine

Vitaglide is aerobic in nature. The intent is long durations at a sustainable pace/resistance. Aerobic is all about oxygen. The key is to keep your heart rate up with increases how much oxygen can deliver to muscles. The one thing that sets the Vitaglide apart from other aerobic machines  is the twisting motion incorporates more of the lower delts and back muscle and passively works the core, which is great for busting the “quad gut.”

The uppertone is all about weight training during which you focus on “overload” which is essentially doing more than sustainable. You want to generate a baseline of what weight and repetitions you can normally do and then you structure your workout to be able to finish your last rep with difficulty but with good form. Also you need resting periods to allow for muscle growth, unlike aerobic where you do same duration (30 mins or more depending on ability) each day.

Uppertone
Uppertone Fitness Machine

There’s the debate over which is better, aerobic or weight training, but ideally if you can do both that is best. Aerobic promotes strong, well fueled muscles and most important cardiovascular health but weight training usually burns fat faster because it takes more calories to sustain muscle more so than fat.

Both machines are well made and will give you as good of a workout as you put in, so it just depends on your goals and how you prefer to work out. To see more about these machines and other available exercise equipment for us wheelchair user visit our Exercise Equipment.

 
Tell us what you think…What wheelchair fitness machine do you prefer?

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.

MAP Prices and how it affects you.

Minimum Advertised Price or “MAP” – is a pricing restriction set by the manufacturer.  It is the lowest price a company is allowed to advertise an item for.  All dealers who buy MAP items are required to advertise them for no less than MAP price regardless of actual sale price.

While MAP pricing is not a new concept, it has become increasingly common for medical equipment manufacturers to use MAP pricing. The generally reason given for such policies is to help curb excess competition to price. However, the general consensus is that it is intended to bring online prices back in line with what brick and mortar stores have to charge to sell the product.

Whatever the reason, MAP Pricing puts a greater focus on customer service and understanding of the product rather than just the price. We believe that it provides us and the customer a great oppurtunity to focus on service. If every dealer advertises a product at the same price, than we have to differentiate ourselves by providing more information and better service to earn your business.

No need to worry, for all of you who know what you want and like to shop prices, “MAP price” refers only to the advertised price. We are allowed to sell items for any price we want.

If you see an item labeled MAP price it almost always means that there may be extra discounts available.  If ever in doubt give us a call and we’ll always give you the best price we can offer.

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.

Getting Your Chair through a Narrow Doorway

Have you ever found your doorway is to narrow and your chair does not fit through the door?

It is often the most over looked item when considering the purchase of a wheelchair, shower chair, floor lift, or other medical equipment, the width of the doorway.   What is the overall width of the wheelchair or commode chair as compared to all of the doorways it has to go through? 

The problem is we tend to measure the space between the door frames and not realize that the butt of the door sticks out into the open of the door and keeps the chair from clearing the doorway.  Then we find that the chair or the floor lift does not fit through the doorway.

When this happens you can always remove the door, but then you have no privacy or odor control, if you get my drift.  If you have room you could tear the old door out and install a wider door, but this can be costly and time consuming, not to mention messy. 

A possible fix is to replace the door hinges with Expandable Door Hinges or I have seen them called Offset Hinges.  This type of door hinge moves the door in line with the door frame generally adding up to an inch to the opening.

Expandable Door Hinge
Expandable Door Hinge

These hinges also help if the door is wide enough for your chair but the footrest keep scraping the bottom of the door.  We have these in our home to help reduce the number of times the door gets scraped up.  I look at it as how much time they buy me between paint jobs and doors are the worst for me to have to repaint.

In most cases these are easy to install by simply remove the current hinge and replace with the new one.   I have not been able to find these in local hardware stores or even the big warehouse chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot.   The first set I bought was at a specialty door store and cost more then twice what we sell them for.  The Expandable Door Hinge we sell is a pair of heavy duty hinges that can easily support the weight of a solid wood door.