Innovations: 40 Years of Ultralight Progress

By | 2017-01-13T20:41:45+00:00 September 1st, 2015|
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Mark E. SmithAfter 40 years of innovation in the ultralight wheelchair market, just when you think you’ve seen it all — BAM! — something new comes along. When the changes are really good, we say to ourselves, “I’ve needed that for years!” And, I’ve found some new products that might have you saying just that.

Frog Shield: Stop the Rat’s Nest
Have you ever looked at your caster axles — that space between the caster and the fork — and seen the rat’s nest of tangled, fur-like material intertwined with your caster bearings? Carpet fiber, pet and human hair, thread and more has an uncanny way of winding itself around your casters’ axles. It not only creates an unsightly clump of yuck, it also works its way into your bearings, first creating drag, and eventually destroying them. For years, many of us have struggled with tweezers or having to disassemble our casters to remove the nasty, knotty mess that slows us down and degrades our bearings.

Frog-Shield-on-Fork-Red-RingFinally, Frog Legs, legendary maker of suspension forks and soft-roll casters, has brought to market the aptly-named Frog Shield — a shield for caster bearings that is engineered to keep out the nasty and knotty stuff. The Frog Shield replaces the traditional caster spacer in-between Frog Legs forks and casters. Essentially, the Frog Shield encapsulates the bearing, shielding it from debris. An additional benefit is that because Frog Shields keep your bearings clean, gunk doesn’t fling onto your casters, keeping your casters cleaner, as well.

Frog Shields retail for $29.99 for a set of four and are compatible with both new and existing Frog Legs brand forks and casters from sizes 3 to 6 inches.

ROHO Smart Check:
Maintaining Perfect Pressure
ROHO air floatation seat cushions have been recognized as an industry leader in pressure management for four decades. After all, the concept of “immersion” that allows pressure points to sink into a surface — while surrounding areas are supported — is among the surest forms of pressure management, and that’s what a ROHO cushion accomplishes.

ROHO-cushionAs life-changing as ROHO cushions have proven for those at risk for pressure sores, the downside has been achieving the exact, optimal air pressure — too much or too little and the cushion is less effective. Over the years, a growing market has desired some sort of pressure gauge, and ROHO has now delivered in an all-encompassing way. The new Smart Check system, available on ROHO HIGH- and ROHO MID-PROFILE cushions, takes the guesswork out of setting the right pressure, as well as maintaining it.

ROHO Smart Check is a handheld monitor that clips on and off of a special valve on new compatible cushions. For setup of a cushion, Smart Check has a red and green light. First you inflate the cushion until the overfill light is red. Seated on the cushion, you let air out until the light turns green, noting optimal air pressure. Smart Check then remembers this setting. By checking the hand control daily, you can ensure you’re still in the green; however, if optimal air pressure drops, a red light alerts you to add more air. The result is that Smart Check allows you to properly fit and monitor your ROHO at all times.

Smart Check adds approximately $150 to compatible ROHO cushions, but pays for itself, so to speak, in reliable pressure management and peace of mind.

Quickie 5R: Max Adaptability  
In the world of high-performance ultralight wheelchairs, performance and adaptability are often at odds with each other. You can have a high-performance ultralight that’s not very adaptable, or an adaptable ultralight that’s not very high-performance — but finding both is difficult.

Quickie-5rThe new Quickie 5R strives to combine a high-performance ultralight with maximum adaptability.

The 5R starts with a hydro-formed, mono-tube frame that weighs in at a scant 21.5 pounds base weight, complete, making it a great high-performance ultralight. From there, what sets the 5R apart is its adaptability. If you have a higher-level SCI or disability, you can add virtually any option you may need.

You can go from side guards to full armrests; ultralight wheels to power assist; fixed frame to full suspension; and, sling upholstery to rehab backrests. The list goes on and on, but 5R is truly among the most adaptable rigid ultralights on the market, where you don’t have to sacrifice performance for adaptability.

Coded as a K0005 by insurers, the Quickie 5R is readily funded and among the best options if you need exceptional adaptability in a high-performance ultralight.

No Innovation Too Big or Small
Indeed, after 40 years, the innovations just keep coming. Some are big, like a highly-adaptable ultralight. Some are profound, like an air cushion monitor to prevent pressure sores. And, some are small, like a shield for keeping the gunk out of your casters. All, however, improve the quality of our lives — and that’s what true innovation is about.

• Frog Shield, Frog Legs, 800/922-2129;
• Smart Check, ROHO, 800/851-3449;
• Quickie 5R, Sunrise Medical, 800/333-4000;