Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Initial thoughts on Power Assisted Wheels

I had the first opportunity to give the Power Assisted Wheels (Quickie Xtender Wheels) on my new wheelchair a trial run - or three.

Saturday, March 7th my sister and I went to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida. I have to say that I REALLY liked the Zoo. All the staff were friendly and helpful. We decided to stay for the Zoominations after hours Chinese Lantern Festival, so I knew it would be a long day. I kept the wheels powered off a good deal of the time and my sister pushed me. On the uphill inclines and the rough boardwalk (VERY rough Boardwalk!), I powered up. The assist is REALLY amazing. With just a few fingers and a small push I moved up the inclines and across the rough areas. Even with my sister to assist and minimized use of the Power Assist, the small battery that the VA furnished was close to minimum charge at the end of our trip to the Zoo.

Sunday, March 8th found us at SeaWorld Orlando. It was VERY crowded and long waits in line were the norm. I thought it was because Lynyrd Skynyrd was showing, but once inside I found that it was a busy day everywhere - not just at the concert venue. Very little shade and HOT! I wanted to see how the battery would perform with minimal assistance, but we ended up with a short stay. A few hours of use had the battery down a fair amount, but I still was conservative in use.

Monday, March 9th I set out on my own at EPCOT in Walt Disney World. I planed on staying all day, so I tried to use the Power Assist only when needed. I also turned it off in crowded conditions. I made a few stops in the Future World area, and then headed off to "The Countries" for Flower & Garden (and the food). I spent 4 hours circling the Countries and headed back to Future World for a couple of rides and lunch. After a few hours up front in Future World, I headed back to The Countries for Dinner and to get ready for the Illuminations fireworks show. I spent a while checking out some of the shops, and then decided to eat dinner at The Rose & Crown Restaurant in "England". By the time Dinner was over, my battery was in the orange (last Charge Level light lit). Rather than risk having a dead battery and an uphill roll in the dark, I decided to head back to the car. By the time I had made it back to the car, the battery was almost dead and I was getting the "Low Battery" warning.

Overall impression -

The Good - Power assisted Wheels are a MUST for anyone in a wheelchair that has low upper body strength or an arm or shoulder injury! The assist on inclines and rougher areas in really something you need to experience.

The Bad - The NiMH battery is NOT for the active wheelchair user! It will NOT last a full day of activity. For someone that rarely gets out for a full day or has someone to assist for a portion of the day, it MIGHT be okay ... but.

There is a Lithium Ion battery available that has TWICE to capacity of the NiMH version and would be MUCH more appropriate for the active user. I am going to try to get the VA to upgrade my battery to one of these ... and try to get a FreeWheel.