All Posts By

Mark E. Smith

May 26, 2016

Great Accessible Getaways

Thinking about great accessible getaways? Travel season is here, and for those of us who use mobility products, choosing a travel destination isn’t just about where we wish to go, but… alas… how accessible is it?

Ideal destinations for travelers using mobility products have three vital traits: overall accessible architecture, readily-available accessible transportation, and… of course… great attractions. However, finding all three is tricky, so let’s look at a short list that may narrow down the process, with a varied selection of tastes in mind.

 

Las VegasGreat Accessible Getaways

Sin City is also Wheel City, ranking arguably as among the most accessible vacation destinations. From never having to wait for an accessible cab – they’re everywhere! – to an entirely accessible architectural infrastructure to the best accessible hotel rooms, Vegas knows mobility. A misnomer is that Las Vegas is for gambling and other indulgent activities. However, the Las Vegas Strip over the past decade has evolved into a bit of a family affair, full of shopping, restaurants, and amusement rides. With themed hotels, stage shows galore, and attractions for all ages, Las Vegas truly is a family destination. Gambler or not, if you’re looking for fun times, you’ll be on a roll in Vegas.

 

Vancouver, B.C. Great Accessible Getaway

Just over the Washington state border, Vancouver, British Columbia, is among the most beautiful and wheelchair accessible cities you’ll ever visit. Whether you’re looking for scenic coastal beauty or metropolitan flair, Vancouver, B.C., is a stunning city. There’s the Vancouver Aquarium, Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Science World – great attractions.  Then, nature abounds with both accessible coastal and wilderness parks. And, let us not overlook that Vancouver, B.C., has among the world’s finest cuisine, from seafood to virtually every ethnic delight imaginable.

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May 19, 2016

A Tribute to the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces

US Armed Forces

First observed in 1950, Armed Forces Day is held annually on the third weekend in May, this year being May 21, 2016. Armed Forces Day honors the dedicated men and woman currently serving in the five branches of the U.S. military.

Air Force Master Sgt., Israel Del Toro, is one of those enlisted in the military. However, his story isn’t a typical one. Del Toro was on deployment in Afghanistan when, on Dec. 4, 2005, an IED explosion severely burned more than 80 percent of his body.

“We crossed this creek and I feel this intense heat blast on my left side,” Del Toro told ESPN.

“People talk about your life flashing in front of you … for me, everything started just coming in waves,” said Del Toro, then a father to a 2-year-old son. “And when I got out of the truck I was on fire from head to toe. I collapsed ‘cause the flames overtook me.”

“I’m thinking I’m gonna die here,” he said.

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May 12, 2016

Thinking of Adding Power to your Ultralight Wheelchair? Let’s ask Mark

 

Dear SpinLife,

I’m a manual wheelchair user of 30 years (I bought my last rigid ultralight through you). I’ve been diagnosed with shoulder issues and need to reduce my pushing. I don’t need a power chair, but I am looking to get a new ultralight chair and I’m thinking a powered kit for it might be best. What do I need to know about adding power to an ultralight wheelchair before moving forward? Thanks, Lewis

Lewis,

Unfortunately, you’re not alone in your need to take strain off of your shoulders. While ultralight wheelchairs and related components such as wheels are very ergonomic now, they weren’t in the past, and so many long-time wheelers are in your situation. Fortunately, between increased ergonomics and “power assist” systems, you can remain very active in an ultralight manual wheelchair despite your shoulder strain.

When we speak of “power assist,” we’re referring to any motor-based system that’s added to a manual wheelchair to assist with propulsion. There are three technologies in the power-assist category: a power base controlled via joystick, power-assist push wheels, or a power-assist 5th wheel. Let’s look at these technologies available when adding power to an ultralight wheelchair :

 

Power-Assist Push Wheels 

adding power to your ultralight wheelchair

Xtender Power Assist Wheels

Power Assist push wheels

Power-assist push wheels are typically self-contained with a hub motor and battery. They replace your standard wheels. Via sensors, when you give them a push, each wheel’s motor kicks in, giving your every push a boost. The advantage of power-assist push wheels is that they keep your manual wheelchair very stock and familiar in its operation – you’re just getting a boost with each push.

 

 

 

Power-Assist 5th Wheel

Adding power to your ultralight wheelchair

Smart Drive MX2 Power Assist 5th Wheel

A power-assist 5th wheel is a small, all-in-one pack that quick-release mounts under your wheelchair. It contains a motor, battery and drive wheel. When you push your standard wheels, it triggers the 5th wheel to drive – your wheelchair then seems to glide on its own. Because the 5th wheel is so compact, it’s arguably the easiest power-assist system to transport.

 

 

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May 5, 2016

How to Maximize Power Wheelchair Performance? Lets ask Mark!

Dear SpinLife,

My new Spinlife Power Wheelchair was just delivered. In getting used to it, do you have any recommendations and tips on how I can maximize power wheelchair performance? I live in Detroit and plan on using it a lot around town. Thanks. -Motoring in the Motor City


 

Maximize power wheelchair performance

Hello Motoring in the Motor City,

Congratulations on your first power chair. There’s no doubt it’s going to get you out and about, giving you the mobility you need and deserve.

I know it may sound a bit basic, but the first tip toward maximizing your power wheelchair performance is to read the owner’s manual. It illustrates all of the features, including vital ones, such as how to operate the hand control (joystick), use the free-wheel levers (for manual pushing in an emergency), adjust aspects like the seat height, footplate, and so on. Some users simply sit in a new power chair and go, but it’s vital to read the owner’s manual, learning all of the functions and features of your power chair.

Now that you’ve read the owner’s manual, and are an expert on your power chair, let’s turn you into a pro….

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April 28, 2016

Are scooters allowed on airplanes? Let’s ask Mark!

Dear SpinLife,

We’re planning a family vacation for this summer, flying from Chicago to Florida, including my father-in-law who uses a power scooter. Are scooters allowed on airplanes, and if so, what do we need to know in advance to make the trip as practical as possible? -Michelle

Michelle,

The great news is that between advances in mobility technology and disability rights legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act, air travel has never been more accessible than today. However, to make it as comfortable as possible when traveling with a power mobility device – such as a scooter or power chair — there are protocols to understand. Therefore, let’s take a look at what you should know from booking tickets to landing when flying with a power mobility device.

Travel by air

Airlines allow you to take your scooter along when you travel

Individually speaking, consumers may prefer one airline over another, and that’s fine, as they all domestically adhere to the same power mobility device regulations (carriers based outside of the U.S. may vary). So, as a traveler with a disability, remember, you’re also a consumer, so shop to your preferences and budget. However, whether you book through a travel agent, online discount site or the airline directly, all airlines request that you promptly notify them that you’ll be traveling with a power mobility device, as well as let them know of any physical assistance you may need. For example, if you’re non-ambulatory, the airlines will provide transfer assistance from your power mobility device onto an “aisle chair” that will escort you to your seat. Continue Reading