The New iGlide Wheelchair
Hello all. I'd like to share my experience testing the new iGlide chair last week. Please keep in mind that these are MY interpretations as they relate to my needs and desires in the "perfect" wheelchair. I don't want to influence anyone in any way to buy or not to buy this chair.
As soon as I looked at this chair on the website I immediately registered to receive more information about the chair. To my surprise a representative phoned me the very next day. I had to spend about 30 minutes with her on the phone, though, to go over several questions about my current chair, my needs and level of independence. At the end of our interview she told me that a representative from my area would contact me if I wanted to set up an appointment to see the chair.
By the time I got into the office the next morning he had already left me a voicemail. I called him back, and we set up an appointment for the following Thursday. He would meet me at my office, and the appointment would take about an hour.
Ron was promptly showed up at the designated time. He was courteous and very professional. I watched as he pushed himself in the chair through the parking lot to the front door of my office building. After the initial introduction he began explaining to me about the chair's technology, how it works, etc.
My initial impression of the chair was awe. At first glance it looks just like any other chair, though the frame was a bit big and bulky for my taste. The motors were amazingly quiet. The front casters were very large, and there is a bar that adds stability to the frame that is between the rear frame.
Ron also showed me the seat cushion that they are also marketing. It is like nothing I've ever seen before, and I must say, it is really comfortable and extremely light. I think it even weighs less then my current Jay "basic" cushion, which is only 2 inches of foam. It was much more comfortable than that Rojo cushion that's up in my closet and only used for about 2 hours.
When I first sat in the chair, of course, it felt a little weird and all the adjustments weren't perfect for me, but I knew that would be the case anyway. Pushing the chair really takes some getting used to. It was like I had never been in a wheelchair before. I had to learn all over again!
I zigzagged all over the lobby of my office building like a drunk, crazy woman! The motors were amazing though. If you sit still for a few moments they shut off automatically to save on battery life. There is a button attached to the frame, just under the left thigh where you turn the chair on and off. Ron told me the battery lasts for about seven and a half miles (however that converts to time depends on each user).
After a few moments in the chair I wanted to take it outside and try it out on the sidewalk and ramps. The chair automatically slows down when you go down the ramp, and kicks in more power when you go up. I was still zigzagging all over the place, though. Ron told me that he was the same way when he first used the chair, but after a couple of hours he had gotten used to it. Now he pushes that chair like he has been using it for years. This chair pushes like "butter". The only resistance I ever felt was when I tried the chair was when the motors were turned off.
I then took the chair up on a grassy knoll in our office courtyard. I can't remember the last time I had gone on grass and NOT feared that I would topple over! The chair had a very smooth ride, even in the grass and I felt very safe and stable. I went in the grass and back onto the sidewalk and could hardly tell the difference between the two surfaces.
Next I tried to put it in my car. Here's where we start to see things from a different perspective. I drive a Saturn "L" Series, 4 door sedan. My current chair is a compact 16x16 frame Terminator SS "everyday". I think it weighs about 14 pounds without the wheels (I'm not sure about this though).
With the iGlide I couldn't get in close enough to feel confident about transferring into the car and back out again. The frame of the iGlide was about 6 or 8 inches higher (the seat cushion was the high profile version too), plus there was a rather large gap between the car seat and the chair. I probably could have gotten into the car, but I would never have been able to get out of the car and onto the chair.
Not only that, but the iGlide weighs 56 pounds, with the wheels on, and about 35 with the wheels and battery off. There is no way I could lift the chair over my body and put it in the back seat like I can my Terminator. I'd be saving my shoulders while pushing the chair, yet ruining them by trying to put this monster in the car. Not only was it heavy, but the frame is boxy and not really made with this function in mind. The front casters were rather large, about 6 or 7 inches, I think. I never would have gotten them past the steering wheel.
For me, this was the defining moment. All along, I've had in mind to purchase a van about 3 or 4 years from now. If it weren't for my worsening shoulder pain I would not have even have given this chair a second glance. Before I can buy a van, I have some debt I need to pay down . I could hear the proverbial air leaving my tires as my dreams of the perfect chair hissed away. If you are interested in this chair, and you already have a van, then you definitely should arrange to see it. You will be amazed at how it glides along even the bumpiest side walk.
Another point that I would like to make, is that the chair is sold "as you see it". Meaning, you can't order different sized front casters, back rest, side guards, etc. I was told that changing the chair in any way would void the warranty. So, if you change anything about the chair, make sure you keep the original parts to put back on if it needs any service or repairs during the warranty period. The chair I saw was silver in color and the wheels had a 1 degree camber.
If you are like me, and you tend to grab furniture, the corners of walls, etc as you make your way around the house or office, this is a no-no. The chair's "brain" sees this as resistance and therefore will increase power to the wheels. This could cause you to get bruised up a bit. I didn't try pushing my through the doors with the iGlide, but I was told that to do it the chair's motors need to be turned off. later, in the evening while I was at home, I could see other areas of my daily living where this chair could be of great help, and others where I could see might not be so great.
Johnson & Johnson is marketing and selling this chair themselves. This means that none of the dealers you've been going through for your durable equipment will be able to show you the chair or service it. This could mean problems down the line with insurance companies. I have an Aetna PPO through my employer. If a "provider" is not on their list of APPROVED providers, this means that I won't get the same percentage of payment on items as if the provider was on the list. Questions regarding insurance and payment plans could not be answered by Ron. Johnson & Johnson has a different department that handles insurance and billing issues. He did tell me that they would do everything they could to negotiate with insurance companies to get the highest payment.
He also could not tell me if they would be billing me the difference if the payment from my insurance company wasn't enough. This presented a problem for me, because during the purchase of my current chair I was put through a meat grinder by both Aetna and the provider. I was put into the middle of a feud over payments and contracts. This is an experience I never want to have again!
The cost of the iGlide is darn near close to $8,000. It is so new to the market, that there is no information yet as to how insurance companies are reacting to the price of the chair and how much of it they are covering. Ron did tell me that this chair is so new and so different that it has a billing code all it's own. I believe he said "k-9"? It's neither a manual chair, nor an electric chair. It is truly in a class of it's own. I'm still waiting to hear back from one of Johnson & Johnson's insurance counselors, but I will update my post as soon as I hear from them. I was told that the initial reaction that the insurance companies had when they first were shown this chair was a positive one.
For my current needs and current financial reasons, I am not going to move forward and get this chair right now. Seeing as how technology moves so quickly with wheelchairs (my current chair has already been replaced by a new one and is considered "ancient"!), by the time I'm ready to buy in 3 or 4 years, this chair may be slimmed down and lightened up quite a bit.
Remember, these are my own personal views and opinions of the iGlide. Everyone who thinks that this chair would make their lives easier and more independent should go to the website and sign up for a test drive. This technology is so new and fresh that I'm sure we are going to see many more improvements in the next few years. Coming soon is the new iBot! This world of ours is amazing isn't it!
Have you found out anything else on the iGlide? My husband is interested in it, but like you plans to wait a couple of years to see if there are any bugs for them to work out.
I'm going to call them. Just curious anyone else checked this out yet? I'm c4/5 quad and am doubtful but hopefull this might work. It would need some modifying but would give a great work out.
That's our concern. We've been told by others that it "can't" be modified. Johnson & Johnson sells it "standard", they don't really seem to be all that concerned that "standard" doesn't fit everybody. My husband is a C5/6 who used a manual chair until he moved to GA 6 years ago, then he switched to a power chair. He has hopes that this chair will sort of be the "best of both worlds". Let me know if anyone has any other contact with them.
The e-motion wheels can be added to most lightweight chairs. I suggest you check these out instead.
You might want to check out this site:
Go to the juke-joint (first option) forum, there are a few posts here of others who have tried out the iGlide. I've tried the e-motion wheels on a TiLite chair and they are very good, take a little getting used to with the 'push to go' rims, and they are a little on the slow side next to full-time electric wheelchairs. You can see them here:
Anyway, that's my 2cents, good luck.
[This message was edited by Aquitaine on 04-15-04 at 04:32 AM.]