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
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
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
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.
Plants can add an amazing aesthetic anywhere, so consider small space gardening. Live plants have excellent benefits such as purifying the air we breathe, adding fragrance, and perhaps best of all providing us with food! Maybe you’ve downsized, or don’t get around quite as freely as you used to, but gardening can still be a fun and rewarding pastime.
It would be easy to assume you need large spaces to garden well. Not so! Here are some easy ways to fit the garden you love into the space you have.
The first thing you will need to consider is the space you have. Be creative! Use the space around your mailbox; line your walkway with beautiful, edible greens such as kale or Swiss chard; hang planting boxes from fences, windowsills, and porch railings. No yard? No problem! You can plant on a balcony, patio, and even use the indoors for small space gardening.
You will need to decide what you are hoping to accomplish with your garden. Are you looking for a beautiful, fragrant, pop of color? Flowers such as African Violets, Marigolds, Peace Lillies, and Begonias all have what it takes to grow well indoors or out, and they work in small spaces provided they have enough access to sun.
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
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….
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
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.
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.
How to maintain your Scooter Batteries.
It’s the first beautiful day of spring and you just can’t wait to dust off your scooter, get out in the sunshine and take her for a spin. You climb aboard in anticipation, turn the key, and nothing. How can this be? My scooter won’t start! Every spring, the Product Specialists at SpinLife hear the same scenario repeated over and over. Your scooter batteries are dead.
Many people do not realize that if your scooter is not being used, the batteries will slowly discharge. Even if you put it away for the winter with the batteries fully charged, it is likely they will not have enough power to run your scooter come springtime.
This is due to the fact that once the level of charge has fallen below a certain level, your charger is not capable of resurrecting the batteries to their former function. Often times people think their charger has gone bad, which is possible, but unlikely.
So what’s a person to do? Here are two easy steps to follow so this won’t happen to you.
U- 1 Battery
- If you have a travel scooter and the batteries are in a removable pack, go ahead and store your scooter, but bring your battery pack and charger inside with you. Place it somewhere you can get to it without a lot of hassle. Mark your calendar to plug in your battery charger every two weeks. Plug it in at night when you go to bed. Unplug it the next morning. If you follow through with this for the winter, come spring you will be good to go!
- If you have a larger scooter without a removable battery pack follow these instructions. Be sure your batteries are fully charged, and disconnect them from the scooter. Sealed batteries can hold their charge from 6 to 12 months if they are not hooked to the scooter battery terminals. Remember, if you have to store your scooter in an unheated area, it’s best if you move the fully charged batteries to an area where they will not freeze. Extremes of temperature (hot or cold) can harm sealed batteries and shorten their usable life.
If it’s time for a new set of batteries, shop today or call one of our Spinlife Product Specialists for help at 800-850-0335. Just tell us the make and model of your mobility device and we’ll do the rest. Orders placed before 2 pm ET often ship out the same day, and expedited delivery is available. Happy motoring!