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Thread: Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras : opinions, experience?

  1. #161
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Vancouver WA USA - - Male T4 ASIA B incomplete
    Quote Originally Posted by gac3rd View Post
    T-4 para, 69 years old, 45 years in manual chair. Went for decades saying I would stay in my manual chair until the end. Had an active outdoor life including wheelchair marathons, skiing, hand powered tricycles and tandem bicycles (used to do centuries), and camping all over the western US. Glad I was blessed to be able to do all it. I took in the whole "No pain, no gain", "no giving up" bit hook, line, and sinker. It is BS.

    Both shoulders have at least two ligaments completely torn in two. My shoulders sound and feel like rock grinders. The pain is acute. Cannot safely steer the car, and cannot go any distance once I am out of the car. I am confined to the house in my manual chair - which is driving me nuts. My wife's family is crammed with doctors, and I have tried every alternative therapy. Isometric exercise has alleviated a lot of the pain but not improved function.

    I have moved to a power chair just to be able to leave the house and go around the neighborhood. Will transition to a power chair full time -- this means a new car, and possible modifications in the house so it is non-trivial.

    buegerman has the right idea -- my quality of life would be far better if I had moved to a power chair a long time ago.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and point of view, much appreciated.
    As a T4 only 3 years out, who's as exercise crazy as the next guy, there definitely seems to be some balancing and improvements that can be made to quality of life.

    There really doesn't seem to be any power chair that is aimed at the active para. Light weight and a footprint smaller than the equivalent manual chair, which can be finely tuned to allow a wheeling capability.
    Buegerman's chair is definitely the direction I would like to head in. The only improvement for my instance would be to make it modular enough that I could de-assemble it and load it in and out of a regular car unassisted.
    Yes it'll take me longer than a manual chair, and require more muscle but at this point I'm happy with that equation.

    Which power chair did you go with?

  2. #162

    your story scares me, and should serve as a warning to us all.

    I wonder about those tandem bicycles though--what model? with one AB, one handcrank? A good friend wants to get one for us, but cannot seem to find one anywhere or even find a model on line.

    thanks for sharing.


  3. #163
    gac3rd, you sound a lot like me. Same Atletic background, still handcycle but had to lay off to more rips and tears. both biceps torn off the longheads, torn spinatus, rotators, right side has a 1x1" tear. It was worth it but think I would have trained smarter. Course we did what we did right.

    I'm going thur that very same dilemma. One minute I'm accepting it; the next minute I figure I might as well be dead using a p/c. What kind do you have or looking at. I'm also looking at Pat's ZX-1. I hate hate the idea of having to make the changes nec. to accomadate a p/c and all that comes with it.

    This is the toughest decision in a long time. Are you still handcycling at all. I'm just getting into again after the latest round of rips and tears. It was such a feeling of relief knowing I can still ride, even if it's slow and not as far, umm yet.

    We go up to the DME on Weds. to check 'em out.

  4. #164
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Thanks for the responses.

    What kind of chair? I was not happy with what the DME gave me as options (Invcare TDX, Permobil C300, Quickie Rhythm). I was also not happy with the price of a small car, or even my 20% share, or the terrible reviews I was seeing on the web, or what the local power chair community was telling me about my choices or my vendor. Finally purchased a 10 year old Invacare Torque SP for $300 on eBay. Got lucky, the chair had hardly been used.

    Stumbled into Buegerman's site and was inspired. I am actively working on my own chair. Retired engineering professor, and it is great fun for me. Facing a power chair after being capable in a manual is a huge decision, with lots of mental stuff going on, compounded by the fact that many of the chairs offered to you only exist because Medicare will pay for them, and, if my DME supplier was any example, you may be shown a very limited choice of what is actually available.

    For an active user the Quickie S646se, the Invacare Arrow with (if you are not too heavy) the GB motors, or perhaps the Frontier X5 seem to be the top choices of the day. A while reading the Buegerman forum may be productive.

    Had not heard of the ZX-1. Looked at the YouTube video. Some impressions: range will be limited and the small manual chair casters are going to be a huge pain on anything but glass smooth surfaces. However, it suits your needs, it might be just the ticket.

    I have not hand cycled in many years. Was on a 200 mile trip in Montana decades ago and pretty badly tore my left elbow as well as shoulders near Dixon. Did not stop me, but it should have.

    The tandem was a Counterpoint Opus built by the inventor Jim Weaver near Seattle, WA. He put on a custom front seat with hand cranks at the side for me. Jim sold the rights years and years ago. The AB version of the bike might still be available at I have mine hanging in the water tank closet, and would be happy to see it go to a good home. It would need modification for another user (my hips are fused and I sit funny), and I cannot help at all with packing and shipping. But if you live near San Diego, you are welcome to come and take a look. I would set a very reasonable price.

    On shoulder injuries in a manual chair, I think they are difficult to avoid. My wife is also in a chair. Her shoulders are not as bad as mine, but you can see it coming. There are lots of simple exercises you can do to stay stronger and avoid injury, but from what I can see this is not a point of emphasis in rehab.

    Once you get a serious tear, wheelchair folks are a very poor candidates for surgery because they cannot rest the shoulder. The longer it is torn, the lower the likely hood of a good surgical outcome. I am told that plastic and metal, a shoulder replacement, is not an option because it is just not up the the load a wheelchair person imposes. My advice to any manual chair user is to get as smart as you can about your rotator cuff, learn some gentle exercises to keep it and your scapula muscles in shape, do them religiously, and DO NOT do anything that causes pain. Transition to partial use of a power chair before you are forced. We need a delicate balance between using the shoulder and not abusing it.

  5. #165
    Quote Originally Posted by Kulea View Post
    Just to be clear, this is referencing the TDX controller, correct? Does the P222SE use the same controller? Also, is it the electronics or the joystick box that is the issue?
    i live in seattle area. have had p200, p222 and now have p222se. rain doesn't affect any of them. this has been since 1996. i believe the p222 and p222se box is called qtronix or something like that. but the real issue is if the box is sealed correctly. i've never had to use plastic bag or anything. it's me that gets soaked

  6. #166
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Vancouver WA USA - - Male T4 ASIA B incomplete
    Again thanks gac3rd. Wish I was in San Diego to try out that tandem, sounds like fun.

    Do you have the tilt version of the SP?
    To save other peeps the trouble this is an Invacare Torque SP
    Definitely looks like a good chair to start modifying.
    What kind of seat to floor measurement are you getting?

  7. #167
    sadly i'm about as far as one can be from San Diego on the North American continent... but thanks for the pictures. Great that you found someone to adapt the bike.

    Good luck with the powerchair search.

  8. #168
    Quote Originally Posted by gac3rd View Post
    For an active user the Quickie S646se, the Invacare Arrow with (if you are not too heavy) the GB motors, or perhaps the Frontier X5 seem to be the top choices of the day.
    I use my Quickie S646SE for uneven ground; long distances at camps; or long distance even ground when not wanting to rely on help when I get tired. I initially got it because of the tilt pressure relief feature and due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Shoulder Overuse Syndrome. The ONLY problem is that I have to back the thing up the ramp to get into my minivan due to the EZ Lock system. I am looking into a truck, or full size raised door/raised roof van with a lift, as my next vehicle to avoid this.

  9. #169

    gac3rd and Buegernan

    Okay okay! Maybe not BS but dreaming. I have four physical problems going on right now, from heavy to mild. YES, I wll need a power chair sooner than expected. My mobility is dead in the water. I get around but that's it. I will keep my manual along with the power chair.

    I'll go for the search for the power chair as soon as I get some of my physical problems worked out. New vehicle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!''

    "buegerman has the right idea -- my quality of life would be far better if I had moved to a power chair a long time ago."

    'Thanks for the push guys!
    Gary Is = L-1 Para for 34 years.....................

  10. #170
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Garyis pain 24/7 is no fun, and having it for a long period eats you alive. Was not yelling at you personally. Just convinced that the rehab folks are missing the boat on educating manual chair users about overuse injury and how to prevent it. Our arms are doing more work than the legs, and they are not large enough to carry the needed loads. Be blessed.

    EricaBold9780 I think the Buegerman site may have some suggestions on easy lock modifications that may solve your problem at much less expense than the options mentioned.

    The Torque SP I got on eBay has the van seat Not ideal, but enough to get by for now. I think the Arrow, Ranger, and Torque are the same chassis with the higher end options (eg the brushless motors) standard on the Arrow. The front edge of the seat is 22" above the ground, and there is a 4" Roho on top of that. Too high, but it was $300 so I can afford to spend a bit to do something about it. At this point I am still learning buckets every day about what I want in a power chair.

    Sorry you are not closer catlady. My trike was OK, but the tandem with a strong rear rider is a great thing. If I thought my body could stand it I would be back on it in a heartbeat.

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