I hope you read my first blog
about how SoftWheel is changing the game for wheelchair users. I could go on about the benefits of SoftWheel, but the stories I’ve heard from our clients – from wheelchair users who suffered pain and faced difficulties participating in day-to-day activities until they used SoftWheel – speak for themselves.
Kimberley Barreda, for example, is an athlete, writer and consultant specializing in lifestyle and sports in the disability community. Kim, an amputee who has used a wheelchair for as long as she can remember, lives her day-to-day with an empowering perspective on her disability – which she has passionately passed on in her work with the community. “I think that if you’re disabled, you should be able to live your life independently without having a charity always hovering over you,” she recently told me. Her organization, Unlimbited
, provides the money, equipment and lessons for disabled people to try skiing and “do their own thing. We don’t hover over you, we don’t expect you to wear uniforms…my aim is to give people a chance to use the equipment, actually try it out, have fun and then move on to get their own equipment.” One of Kim’s biggest success stories is helping Tristan, a 12-year-old junior skier get equipment and a private instructor so he could become a fully-independent skier. “I’m so excited for him because he’s young, there are so few programs and so many people that need them, and he was getting left behind,” Kim told me. “There wasn’t enough money and equipment, and one day we were talking and I said, ‘well I’ve got a new dual ski.’” Since then, Tristan has joined a team of disabled skiers, calling themselves #teamblackandred, that meet up to ski every Sunday.
Kim says SoftWheels have been “huge” for anyone travelling independently or moving around a city day-to-day. In her work, she’s needed to travel as an athlete and writer to go to events and tradeshows. One of her most challenging experiences before she got SoftWheels was going up and down non-ADA-compliant ramps at airports across the US. “Those ramps used to kill me. When you have to go up, with equipment and bags on you, you’re in trouble because you’re not seated in a way the wheelchair was built for you. You’re not on a flat-level ground.” She recalls that when going down the ramp, there was a transition spot with a big metal plate that, when hitting it, would always pose a risk of flipping over if she wasn’t on the right angle going over it. “So the first time I went down the ramp with SoftWheels, I was really scared. I was expecting the jolt, and I was expecting something to fall off my lap from the jolt – but I honestly didn’t even feel it. I perceived the bump, but I didn’t have that jarring reaction that rattles your wheelchair and goes right up your back. That was awesome.”
But the golden moment for Kim was going up the ramps: “On the way back, I would have to go up on those long ramps and it was awful. You’re pushing forward and then you end up rolling back a bit every time you take your hand off. And if you have something on your lap, you can’t even lean forward to get additional leverage to get back over the front part of your wheels where you need to be to get that good push. So as I was going up the ramp, I was expecting that I was just going to make it ¾ of the way, and at one point I was thinking, ‘I wonder if this was a bad idea.’ So I’m going up the ramp, and I’m pushing, and when I let go, I saw that I was still moving forward! It was a tiny bit, but it was just enough of that continued forward momentum that I needed. I said to myself, ‘Is this really happening?’ That was gold. That energy storage and return is huge. No one has ever applied this to a wheelchair wheel.”
Over in the UK, Wayne T. Rostron, a former British paratrooper, will also tell you about how SoftWheels have relieved his worries about going over bumpy surfaces with his wheelchair. Rostron was injured in the late 70s in a parachuting accident that left his right leg paralyzed and caused injuries to his spine and other areas of his body. Using a wheelchair with standard wheels often prevented him from joining his family on certain trips. In a video
he recorded and sent to me, Wayne is seen being pushed on some pretty rough terrain in Lancashire, England. He told me “The film clip may seem like something ordinary, but you’ll be surprised to learn I am going over a very rough pathway up on the moors in Lancashire. What is remarkable is that I have a broken vertebra and I was able to travel two miles on very rough terrain all because my SoftWheels took all the impact.”
Wayne shares that the wheels have been a game-changer for him, allowing him to join his family in their favorite hobby of walking the moorland. “There is absolutely no way this can be done on ordinary wheels,” he says, adding that people with serious spinal injuries could greatly benefit from the reduction of impact on the head and neck afforded by SoftWheel. “To do 2 plus miles on this terrain is life changing.”
Change is exactly what SoftWheel aims to bring to wheeled mobility. A change – and I mean a major innovation – to the wheel has long been overdue. Our reinvented wheels are transforming wheelchair mobility and accessibility, enabling both active and non-active users to go farther and do more, with more energy, comfort, and safety. As Kim confidently told me, “You don’t know what you’re missing until you try it.”
Read a review from another one of our SoftWheel users here
Read a review from Able Magazine here
Want to learn more about SoftWheel and see a demo or try out our wheels? Visit shopnumotion