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Thread: Input on a new ultra lightweight wheelchair (hemi)

  1. #1
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    The Netherlands

    Input on a new ultra lightweight wheelchair (hemi)

    I find this forum very useful about equipment, and really appreciate how much input you all give. I hope you don’t mind a stroker’s wife posting to it. I wonder why there is not one similar in the stroke community?

    We are looking for a new wheelchair for my husband. He is 50 years old, and is in overall good health after having a post-operative stroke 3 years ago. He is 6’1, 165 pounds (slim) and used to be an avid bicyclist.

    He has left side hemiparerisis (arm and leg) and he is also left side dominant. He is independent on most transfers. He can stand assisted, but can not walk. He is able to propel himself on level surfaces with his right arm and leg, but has a difficult time on uneven terrain. We have a normal car with a hatchback for transportation, and he does not drive a car due to epilepsy. He also has left side neglect and heminopsia, which means he bumps into things and does not always see things, but he has learned to compensate for them quite well.

    He currently has a very low-end folding manual wheelchair that is a tank, and a high-end power wheelchair (Permobil Corpus C350). He almost never uses the power wheelchair, and does not like it because he is not active enough in it and we are very restricted in where we can use it. Consequently, he is in the depot chair all day long, and it saps his energy and ability to get around. In short, it sucks.

    We are looking into an active ADL rigid or folding ultra lightweight that he can more easily maneuver with less energy. We are leaning toward a Tilite rigid or folding frame, but are also interested in Icon (for suspension/adjustability), and other chairs if they can accommodate his hemi needs. We prefer to stay away from the big companies like Invacare, Sunrise, etc. but need one we can order parts internationally.

    We are considering a hemi height chair with one arm drive to enable propulsion with one arm and his foot, possibly something like the Nomad One arm Drive ( We think he will need flip-up foot rests and armrest to enable transfers, a seat cushion with pressure relief and a back seat that provides some lateral trunk support.

    We are looking for an option that he can self propel along with having power assistance and human assistance when needed. We find scooters too limiting in where you can go and not transportable enough and the power assist wheels/levers too difficult with hemiparerisis.

    We do not think he will need a high-end power assist device, but would like one that we could use around town and is portable for car and airplane travel, hopefully one that he will be able to attach himself. We are considering powered hand bikes, like the Rio Mobility Firefly (, which he has tried and it looks very feasible and is not too expensive.

    We will also need some sort of tie-downs or brackets for transportation in wheelchair taxi’s. If we win the lottery, we will also consider buying a wheelchair up-front car like, the Kia Soul eMOTION (, but that is not in the cards right now.

    We are hoping for a budget of around $6-7k for both wheelchair and power assist. We want to concentrate on the biggest need which is a manual wheelchair that he can be as independent as possible with 90% of the time, with a lower end power assist that he will use about 10% of the time.

    As his wife, I am the one doing most of the research and I also do much of the assistance, transportation, maintenance and repairs. I am from the US, and my husband is Dutch and we live in Holland. It’s easier for me to research this in English, and I also think we will get more bang for our buck if we can order it from the US. I’d like to order online if possible, but am not sure I will have the knowledge to do all of the measurements, or be able to find someone locally who is not a dealer to help with that.

    I hope you won’t all tire of me asking a lot of questions. I am trying to get up to speed, and will try not to drive you nuts with my ignorance. For example, I just learned what camber meant. I used to do a lot of bicycle repair, so I understand many of the terms and technicalities. We are not in a rush to purchase, but I want to make sure what we purchase works for all our situations/needs, because we are going to have a tough fight on justification with the government.

    Thanks for any input any of you can give.

    Kind regards,
    Last edited by elarson; 05-16-2012 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Added my name

  2. #2
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    The Netherlands
    Possibly I was too detailed in this posting, without giving any specific questions. I also realise that SCI is a different community with different needs than stroke/hemiparerisis community.

    The problem is that I can't find any good stroke forums about equipment. If anyone knows of other good forums about equipment, especially in the stroke or possibly the multiple sclerosis community, I would really appreciate any links you may have.

  3. #3
    If the Nomad hemi setup w Spinergy wheels would adapt to a TiLite titanium chair that would be a good lightweight matchup. i am assuming the Nomad setup allows quick release function to work so that the wheels can come off quickly for loading in car. I think I would tend to stick w the rigid frame but certainly w fold down backrest for fitting in the hatchback. Some TiLite chairs have flipup footrests to allow hubby to do standing transfer. Chair should be as narrow as your husband can use to allow him to achieve better stroke on the dual pushrims. Spend the extra money to achieve lightness to make propelling chair easier.

  4. #4
    Re the pwr assist, check the threads here on the ZX-1 which should be offered soon by Spinergy.

  5. #5
    youre in the right place ellyn, and there are no wrong questions. its more often a problem when people dont ask enough and just let the 'experts' make all the decisions, usually inefficiently. also, there are plenty of people here without a sci (im one of them).

    i live in ireland and have ordered many times from sportaid and spinlife - ive also heard good things about bike-on's international service. its worth finding out the tax/customs policy in t he netherlands before you do anything. in ireland (and the uk) the policy is that if its a wheelchair, or part/accessory/piece of disability equipment, its not taxable if bought by a disabled person. no customs fees either. i know some eu countries have different policies, and some will charge you. if this is the case, it might make more sense to have it shipped to a friend in the uk and go to pick it up, or even to fly over to the us for a few days (in 2008 it only cost me an extra usd100 to fly to boston for a weekend to pick up a powerchair i had shipped t o my uncles house, instead of paying special handling to ship it to ireland, because of the wet cell batteries). either way you can buy online. just do your homework - dont bother with the online forms, print out the manufacturers form (available on their websites) and go over it in minute detail. contact the seller company directly, and ask 10 million questions. request cad drawings, and make sure thatyoure getting exactly what you expect, no surprises...
    and good luck! remember the metric/sae difference. also, they measure lots of angles differently between us and europe, as in a us chair might call itself an 80 degree front, but in much of europe its a 110 degree - sounds iffy, but the forms usually have detailed measurement directions

  6. #6
    I have had great luck purchasing chairs at Sportaid through Jimbo. You would probably just buy frame if you plan to use Nomad wheels. Probably would want swing away arm rests mounted as low as possible so as not to impede stroke on dual pushrims. You may also want to go w 4 degree camber to make the dual pushrims more accessible. Be aware that increasing camber increases wheelchair width.

  7. #7
    In Norway we have to pay 25% tax when we buy wheelchair stuff but no customs. But, when I bought the Freewheel, they wanted 300 dollar for opening and see that I did not have to pay customs and and the post 150 dollars so here it is no use to buy cheaper from other countries.

    So the prize was more than 1100 dollars but then the equipment office has it and they have to pay 1500 dollars so I am laughing since I don't get my money back. I am going to ask for a new one instead.
    TH 12, 43 years post

  8. #8
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    The Netherlands
    I am so glad to see some responses. Thank you all very much. I know I will have more questions, and I will try to be more specific as we narrow things down. This really makes me feel like we are not diving into the deep on such important decisions without some practical input.

    @ancientgimp -- I had read a bit about the ZX-1, but knowing it is going to be sold by Spinergy gives me more reasons to dive in. I need to re-read the full power add-on for manual chair ZX-1 thread more now. Any ideas of the price (sorry if redundant).

    It looks like a great combination if we can work through the hemi OAD compatibility. We just took a look at this video and it looks great Possibly we would consider forgoing the OAD if we could get a better quality power assist. It helps to have an idea about camber, because I don't even know where to start on that.

    @amyk and @woman from Europe - Thanks for the input about ordering from Europe. I am an expat for 20+ years, with a small multi-national business and usually find good ways around things. We also have family friends that can help, and I also occasionally work there.

    We may be required to go through a Dutch company, but I still want us to have made knowledgeable decisions up-front, because I also have found that we have been given lame advice based on assumptions that do not fit our needs.

    It was really helpful to understand the difference in angles. I know I have found that with goniometer range of motion measurements, but always just thought I was just doing something wrong.

    Thanks again guys, you are great! I put a posting on one of the StrokeSurvivors Forum about this, because I think a lot of people in that community settle for way less than they should, because they are not aware of other possibilities.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

  9. #9
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    The Netherlands

    Rigid swing-away front

    We are starting to narrow down our search. Because my husband has hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body), we are realizing that he probably needs a swing-away front with flip up foot rests, so he can propel himself with one foot, and to make transfers easier.

    We are interested in a rigid chair, preferably titanium because he really knocks them around due to his visual neglect.

    We think the suspension system and the adjustability of the Icon would be really helpful, but don't think the A1 has swing-away with flip up foot rests.

    We are also like the Tilite's, but they only do a rigid chair with swing-away in aluminum with the Aero R.

    Someone in Europe (where we live) suggested we look into the Invacare XLT. I'm not a big fan of the big companies, but want to research it more. I like to also research in the US, and I don't see the XLT anywhere except for handcycles. Does anyone know if the Invacare TopEnd is the same as the XLT marketed in Europe?
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

  10. #10
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Boom -

    Appears to have swing-away and fold-up footrests. A very average sized chair with some good upgrades.. I think most grown men under 250lb could use this chair, but I do recognize you are asking for a rigid while I believe this chair is a folder. Can't beat the price though. It was the first one that popped up on eBay, didn't look any further, there may be others there. Search "tilite wheelchair" on eBay.

    Happy hunting!

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