A kid in a candy shop. That’s the best way to describe how I felt during my recent weekend at the Abilities Expo of Southern California in Anaheim. And not just because most booths gave out Tootsie Rolls and other delights.
Devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities, Abilities Expos feature hundreds of companies wishing to inform attendees of their products, services and organizations. The admission fee is $5, but there are printable coupons for free admission on the Abilities Expo Web site.
|Permobil’s K300 PS Jr.|
These events usually offer a variety of educational workshops as well as product displays. Informational conferences held during the Anaheim Abilities Expo included disability and intimacy, creating a future care plan for family members with disabilities, home accessibility, traveling with disabilities and keeping a positive attitude.
In addition, expos usually have special exhibits and events; in Anaheim there were wheelchair dance performances by the Colours N’ Motion dancers, computer demonstrations by Enablemart and a viewing of the Vertebrae Chopper with matching wheelchair from Lasher Sport. The three-wheeled motorcycle by Orange County Choppers was featured on Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper.”
Auctions, prizes and giveaways also are common.
Abilities Expos go the extra mile to make sure people with disabilities are comfortable and taken care of during their visit. In Anaheim, attendees were offered complimentary wheelchair loaners, attendant care for restroom trips and wheelchair repairs.
One of the great things about these expos is that you can get the inside scoop on the industry’s coolest new products, and in some cases, even try them out.
Here are a few things that caught my eye in Anaheim:
|Next Mobility’s Tailwind|
Next Mobility’s Tailwind is a new and improved power-assist wheelchair.
The Tailwind is a package consisting of the RTm, an aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, high-performance manual wheelchair with quick-release wheels; and the Tailwind power package (TPP) with a removable battery pack. Because the TTP is integrated into the frame on both sides under the seat and the battery pack is cleverly concealed, it looks so much like a regular manual wheelchair that most people don’t realize it’s power assisted.
Thanks to DeltaSense technology that senses pressure on the handrims, users can easily travel up and down hills and across grass and gravel while expending less energy than rolling on a flat, level floor. This puts less stress on the arms, helping prevent arm and shoulder problems and providing greater independence.
Options include armrests, supportive backrests, push handles, seatbelts and anti-tippers. Approximate price range is from $8,450 to $9,500.
Looking into the future, the Tailwind plans to offer a “plug-andplay” joystick for those who can’t use the two push rims and prefer the look, maneuverability and transportability of the manual wheelchair frame. (888) 489-NEXT www.nextmobilitynow.com.
|The CuddleBug from Convaid|
The recently release CuddleBug from Convaid is the first stroller on the market that can tilt, recline and lower the child inches from the floor to play with friends.
In addition, it offers seating and positioning options such as hip and thigh supports, hip guide inserts, foot positioners and a pelvic positioning belt. The CuddleBug also has two seating modules to accommodate the child’s growth and comes in two sizes.
A foldable base and height-adjustable push handles make the CuddleBug convenient to use. Prices start at $2,449. (888) 266-8243 www.convaid.com.
Aero Innovative Research
The Flight Ultralight Wheelchair from Aero Innovative Research has been on the market since January 2008. This folding-frame manual wheelchair combines the comfort and health benefits of solid seating with the convenience and transportability of traditional sling seating.
Designed not to rip, stretch or sag like sling seating, the Flight’s solid seat helps keep the body in good alignment. A solid seat promotes better posture and lessens the risk of tailbone pressure sores and lower back pain.
|The Flight Ultralight Wheelchair from Aero Innovative Research|
Also available from Aero Innovative Research, Varilite’s rigid removable backrests offer support and customization.
Travel is easy with the Flight. Just pull up on the handle attached to the seat, and the wheelchair folds to a width of 9-and-a-half inches from handrim to handrim.
Built with the aerospace industry’s high-strength aluminum, the Flight weighs only 18 pounds (11 pounds when the quick-release wheels are removed), making it easy to load in the trunk of a car.
Flight’s manufacturers promote its full-color and decal customization, innovative wheel locks, stronger caster bearings and easier roll due to better frame and wheel alignment. There also are swing-away footrests, push handles and anti-tippers. Prices range from $3,500 to $4,500. (316) 755-3477 www.airwheelchair.com.
Released in October 2007, Permobil’s rearwheel drive C350 with Corpus seating system offers power tilt and recline with power leg rests, and a power seat elevator to raise the user to eye level. A lower seat-to-floor height allows users greater access to controls when driving and a better fit at standard-height desks and tables.
The chair offers two speed packages of up to 6.5 miles per hour, special electronics controlling two programmable tilt and power leg rest positions, four-wheel adjustable independent suspension for a smoother ride, and a battery that’s easily accessible by the user. It comes in many colors with matching tri-spoke wheel covers.
|Permobil’s C350 Corpus|
The C350 base also is available with a PS seating system, which can tilt and elevate, but doesn’t recline or have elevating leg rests. Base price for the C350 starts at $6,595 or $7,975, depending on the speed package; the price increases depending on the seating system and power functions.
Permobil’s K300 PS Jr., released in November 2007, comes with a standard adult front-wheel power base and an expandable seat pan for a custom fit as the child grows.
It offers power or manual tilt functions and a seat elevator that allows for 45 degrees of tilt and 8 inches of seat elevation.
Other features include adjustable armrests, special electronics and the ability to accept other manufacturers’ seating components. It also can accommodate a ventilator tray. It’s available in five colors and matching tri-spoke wheel covers.
The K300 base comes with the option of the Corpus seating system, which is described above. Pricing for the K300 starts at $6,795, and increases with the seating system and number of power functions. (800) 736-0925 www.permobilusa.com.