DME

Blog posts of '2018' 'September'

Making it for Madi

 _____

Madison de Rozario in her custom TiLite ZR

In the past two blogs have been discussing TiFit and the importance of a chair made to fit the individual. Today, we will be looking specifically at how we worked with Madison De Rozario to design a TiLite ZR made for her and her lifestyle.

To start the process, we met with Madi to find out what her life looks like: what does she love to do, what does she like about her existing chair, and what would she change if she could? Some of the key things about Madi mentioned included: her love for her dog (Sebastian), that she travels a lot, that she wants her chair to stay looking good despite her hectic lifestyle, to be “minimalistic”, and to be ultra-light, but very strong.

Despite Madi having an extremely strong upper body, her pelvis requires only a 285mm (11”) rear seat width. She really wants the front of the seat to be narrower, which follows the contour of her body.

So, we specified the chair to have a 37mm (1.5”) taper from midway down the seat to the front of the seat.

We worked out that, based on her arm length, 480mm (19”) is the best rear seat height for Madi, and that a front seat height of 508mm (20”) gave her adequate stability while allowing her to get under tables and desks. The seat upholstery to footplate height of 300mm (12”) is quite short in relation to her floor to seat height, and Madi wanted this to look as clean as possible, so Madi chose an open loop titanium footplate which needed to be custom made for her chair. We used the same rear wheel axle position as her existing chair and measured the overall length of her existing chair as this worked perfectly for her. Based on her frame length, overall length, and wheel base length the required front angle was worked out, using Computer Aided Design Technology, to be 83.5 degrees.

 

 

Madi also wanted her feet to sit nice and snug in her footplates, so measuring the width of her favourite shoes we specified a footrest width of 178mm (7”). Finally, Madi wanted her chair to be narrow at the front castors, so she can get into tight corners and use a “3 wheel” technique for going down the aisle of aeroplanes (with someone supporting the weight of the chair by holding the rigidiser bar at the back of the chair, one of the rear wheels is removed. This makes the chair narrower and able to be rolled down the aeroplane aisle, negating the need for an aisle chair. Because Madi’s chair is small, it also fits on the overhead locker of most planes). To achieve this, we specified a front castor width of 362mm (12.5”).

TiLite’s commitment to truly custom building the Z and T series chairs from the ground up allows for chairs like Madi’s to be made to fit her body and lifestyle perfectly.

Check out the video to see how the chair turned out.

Mal

 

 

 

TiLite Tifit  - How a TiLite rigid manual wheelchair is made

_____

 

We have been discussing the importance of configuration and how we want the wheelchair to fit like a prosthetic. To get this perfect fit, it is crucial that each chair is custom made to each client. We call this custom fit TiFit. Tifit includes all T-series and Z-series rigid manual wheelchairs. For TiLite, that means that when you order a TiFit wheelchair your wheelchair starts as a long metal tube. The photo  is an actual photo from inside of the TiLite manufacturing plant.

Once your script is sent to TiLite the building begins. TiLite has the help of engineers and computer aided drawings to ensure that each chair is built to your exact specifications. You can even request a copy of your computer aided drawing, CAD, from TiLite that will show the exact measurements of your wheelchair. The photo below is an example of a CAD drawing from TiLite. Once the chair has been ordered and gone through the TiLite configurator, your wheelchair is then cut, bent, and welded into its final product.


The idea is that no two people are exactly the same, so why should your wheelchair be! The wheelchair should be made to fit like a prosthetic not pulled out of a box off the shelf. In doing this, we are ensuring the proper alignment of the shoulders to minimise the risk of shoulder pain and dysfunction. We are also ensuring that the wheelchair is comfortable, more efficient, and gives the ultimate performance. Next week we have the privilege to hear from Madison de Rozario and the importance of customisation of her wheelchair.

 

Rachel

 

 

Why the Fit Matters – An End-User`s Perspective

_____

 

This week we are going to hear from Malcolm about his experience with his TiLite wheelchair and how important the fit is to him. For TiLite, the T-Series and Z-Series wheelchairs are a made to measure frame or as we call it TiFit. The TiFit chair is designed specifically to each person. We will learn in a couple weeks about the exact process that TiLite goes through for each T-Series or Z-Series wheelchair that is ordered, but first let’s understand from an end-user perspective why this matters.


Malcolm Turnbull
As someone who is totally dependent on my wheelchair for mobility and sits in the wheelchair for an average of 12 to 16 hours a day, the fit of my wheelchair is critical for comfort, performance and aesthetics. There is good literature on the importance of custom built wheelchairs, for example: The PVA “Preservation of Upper Limb Function Following Spinal Injury” includes the recommendation “Provide manual wheelchair users with SCI a high-strength, fully customizable manual wheelchair made of the lightest possible material.” Today, I want to give an end user perspective on why this is important.

There is no perfect analogy for this, but I will start with one anyway. For the first 25 odd years of my life as a wheelchair user, I just wore off-the-shelf clothing: jeans, pants, jackets, shoes, etc… Then, I had the opportunity to go to the RehaCare Expo in Germany and came across clothes made specifically for wheelchair users! The pants have no seams at the back, no pockets at the back, and are higher at the back to compensate for the seated position. The shirts are shorter at the front than normal shirts, but the back remains the same, which means they sit better in the seated position. The jackets are also shorter at the front and the sides, meaning they not only sit better, but they are not overflowing onto the wheels. I even found leather shoes with zips on both sides which makes them easier to put on and take off. Now, I love wearing clothes designed this way. The clothes feel better, I feel more comfortable, they are safer in terms of pressure care, they are more convenient, and I think they look better too. Can I get by with off-the-shelf clothes? Yes, but they are nowhere near as good.

Madison de Rozario in her custom TiLite ZR

For me it is the same with TiFit. Of course, the prevention of upper limb injury is important. But the way my chair fits me perfectly feels better, more comfortable. It looks better, like I am sitting in it rather than on it. It is safer, knowing I can specify where my front castors are in relation to my overall length means it is less likely to tip over forwards. Being able to specify the width of the front castors means that I can get into the tight corners of my house, and bathrooms when I am travelling. It also means I don’t scratch my car as much when I am transferring in and out of my chair. Knowing that my front leg angle can be exactly what it needs to be to fit all my other dimensions means my legs sit better and do not slide off my footplates when I am pushing around. Add to this the fact that it rolls better, and you can see why TiFit is important to me

 

1. Link to “Preservation of Upper Limb Function Following Spinal Cord Injury” 

 

 

Weight or Configuration:

Which one is more important for a manual wheelchair?

_____

 

We just finished last week’s blog talking about the differences between titanium and aluminium, one of those differences was the weight of each metal. Weight can be an important factor when we think about propelling a manual wheelchair all day. Studies show that the average full time manual wheelchair user completes 2,000 to 3,000 pushes every day! This is an enormous amount of work that we are asking the shoulders to complete. Therefore, weight is important. However, weight does not just come from the frame.


We can have the lightest frame wheelchair, but if we load it down with armrests, heavy cushions and backrests, solid tyres, etc… we just cancelled the weight we saved in choosing a lighter weight frame. It is important we think about the components that we are putting on the wheelchair. With each component that we add onto the chair, we should ask ourselves, “What is the purpose/goal of this component?”. Perhaps not every added component is necessary or perhaps we can make sure we are getting the lightest weight components that meet our goals and needs. The less weight on the chair, the less demand we place on the shoulders, right? This is true, but if we don’t have the proper configuration, then even the lightest weight wheelchair will be difficult to push.
 
Configuration, how the chair is made to fit you or your client, can be considered more important than weight. When we think about those big hospital wheelchairs we think about how hard they are to push. This is because they are not properly fitted to us. They are meant to be a
one-size fits all. For an individual’s wheelchair it is important that we throw out the idea of one-size fits most and we instead think of the phrase: “fit the wheelchair like a prosthetic”. We can think about the individuals with amputations that have a prosthetic and how important that perfect fit is. If the fit is not correct, they often will have pain, skin issues, and eventually may not be able to use the prosthetic for mobility. The same holds true for a manual wheelchair. The manual wheelchair should be an extension of the individual using it and if we truly want the individual to have the easiest time propelling and limit the risk of shoulder injury – the wheelchair should be fully customized to the individual. This means that we can’t just have a wheelchair that is out of a box and then custom configured to add the components that we need, but instead the chair should be custom made to every individual.
 
This is why every TiLite rigid manual wheelchair is made custom for
each individual, because while the weight is still important, the configuration is key to success.
 
Rachel