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.
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