Wednesday, September 27, 2017

MY New Chair- An Unexpected Journey And A Braking Question

First things first-A BRAKING question
Because I was told That no one else has ever complained about this topic, I just want to start out by asking Any fellow Invacare Storm series Power chair users in Internet land... To answer,, your chair needs to be a new model with 4 POLE Motors.
(My old reliable, 12 year old  Invacare ARROW has gearless Brushless motors which are perfect for down hill for stopping.)

Comment or email walkingwayoverrated@gmail.com

The Question Is?:
When you go down a hill And try To stop Or release your joystick gently to change course heading down any hill, does your chair suddenly stop with a jerking feeling? I don't mean regular stopping. (you want that in a braking system.)  I mean a braking system that is so sensitive, It feels like your brakes are prematurely grabbing our wheels, therefore causing your head and body to jerk suddenly - Actually feeling Quite scary and dangerous. When compared to my older Invacare Arrow, no sudden anything- all smooth.
I'm on my second chair in less than a few months And have had that problem with both of them. No one has offered any solutions and I was even told that no one else has ever complained about this problem.
Since the problem is still there, In the Arrow and now apparently the Torque model (I just found out the model changed)- I thought it would be best to do my own research And put the question out there. I am too nervous to trek outside with it.

I would love to hear from you And your experience. Using The chair from a company that I have loved and supported for decades, I am hoping to find out what is wrong and why the new ones are this way. Something is definitely a askew With this braking system going downhill. Yes my technician tried variations on the adjustment options, but it  is doing the same on the replacement chair as the first. I so want it to all be okay. I can't be the only person.

Please watch the video below, There are some More details About the topic and my journey setting up a new power chair. That may help.

Now On with the show this is it.... 
Here Is The Video
Yes it is been a while since I've shared anything about my new power wheelchair process/journey. Click Here for  the first post about my new chair.
If you follow this blog at all, You will remember All that we had to share regarding Craigs power Assist Xtender Wheels. Feeling that it was best to fulfill our blog mandate by sharing our daily experiences in hope to help anyone in our situation and to document important events.

I've been holding off Sharing where things have really been at. Considering the first day I received the chair was In April 2017, And here I am, It is September 27, 2017 - Sitting in Old Faithful, My 12-year-old Invacare Arrow power chair, with only about one and a half months actually spent in my new chair/s. I figured I had better share where things are at so far. Who knows, maybe I am not  alone or someone wants to know what can happen in this process. Some parts take time as we switch things out, to find out what works best.

This situation has that, but a lot more  exceptional things have occurred, making my process unlike any power chair purchase in my life so far. Worth sharing :o)

The Process Alone
First of all I just want to make sure that anyone seeking specialized power seating like I have, knows it can take a lot of time, quite a process making sure we have all the proper seating, Joysticks, Headrest, Cushions And even The wheelchair itself. I did share that back in May (Click here to see). So I understand that I need to be patient, It is worth it after all. I've been sitting in this chair for 12 years, So for sure I want the next one to be Even more comfortable, If possible.

Please know that these chairs come with multiple components  and therefore multiple companies, make up a whole chair (at least 3-4 that I know of) Invacare is only responsible for the base part of the chair and the controls/joystick. The power tilt part is from Motion Concepts/Invacare- two in one company. And the back is from Future Mobility, and the Headrest I hope to get soon that will work  better comes Sunrise Medical and is a Wedermyer brand.

An unexpected event
Let's see, I have had the new wheelchair in my possession since April 2017 And have actually only been able to use it for a total of about One and a half months,
In Old Faithful years ago
Since then. Unfortunately since day one, The first chair an Invacare Storm series, Arrow, with power tilt seating, was having some difficulties. It had to have its joystick replaced once. The problem continued and my salesperson was concerned. Not to mention, I went on my first down hill walk, only to discover the chair's braking system felt (in my opinion) dangerous. Every time I would let go of my joystick to adjust my chair, the brakes would grab instantly. Yes, they worked....too fast.  It caused my head And such to seriously jerk about.

The Chair I've used for 12 years, (Click this video to see) Can turn on a dime even on a hill. That Chair has something called Gearless brushless motors. Never had a problem with them in 12 years. It was quite a shock to experience such Jarring motions as I try to navigate down a hill. Another reason why the chair needed to be returned.  Very Scary for me!

On A Journey?
"Can't wait to get into my wheelchair today"
The new chair left our home June 19, 2017. I do not know the date it was actually picked up, I am only going by Our dates and times. I am so thankful to the Lord that I have a reliable backup power wheelchair. (it did blow it's first fuse last week, but was quickly repaired- yay.) Again, calling it Old Faithful. In wheelchair years that is, apparently an antique At 12 years old. Anxiously wondering if there was actually something wrong with the original new chair, we waited and we waited...and we waited. I will refrain from every single detail Between when it left and when it returned. But, to date, no answers on if it was faulty or not. Since the new one brakes the same down hill, I guess not. Thankfully the joystick issue is a hundred percent better!

Bottom line, they were going to replace The motor base And I believe the joystick Part. Somewhere in there, it turned out the whole wheelchair went missing. Stories conflicted about whether it happened on the way there or on the way back. I really do struggle when stories get mixed up. It is more about trust for me.
End result, A new chair returned to our home on August 17, 2017.  It was supposed to be the exact same specs as the chair that left here, but a new one. Well, It wasn't the exact same one. There are quite a few things that we're not okay, meaning not the correct parts and such.
As I was putting together the video that goes with this blog today, I saw the photos and discovered the first chair was the Storm Series Arrow model. But the newest is Storm series Torque SP Model. I have no idea why The models were changed
And no one told me. Silly me, I just trusted everything was replaced as It had left. I'll have to do some research to find out. Invacare does have a variety of models that have various different features, For various different purposes.  I  have been trying to reach  my salesperson to ask them about that. They may not even know what happened. Stay tuned folks. 
Note About Specialty Seating Chairs 
 Please note, that specialty power chairs,  involve multiple companies. It is important to point out that they are comprised of Multiple components. Multiple components come from multiple companies. So in no way am I blaming any specific company.

Power Tilt Has Many Perks
On August 30, 2017, my chair with the correct components was returned. The only thing that was accidentally incorrect, was the new back to the chair that needed to be shorter. Turned out a couple days later, someone came to alter that back for me  and some of the hardware stripped, unable to be adjusted properly. We found out that the company offers heavy duty hardware. I was shocked. Why wouldn't they   always provide the best hardware for all their components. Needless to say they ordered the heavy-duty hardware. Still waiting.

That is why I am in Old Faithful For now. Today is September 27 2017, And I anxiously await the new back, in a new style, at the right height. And the new,
Old Faithful....
Wider, Softer head rest pad, with new brackets. I was at the point of trying my second headrest, and it was still too hard for my big lumpy head. Not to mention, a teenie silly screw - Part of the headrest bracket, also got stripped, unable to tighten (after only 3 days!!)  Comes from the same company as the back. If you order from them ask about the hardware. Hopefully they will use the strongest  in all parts.
Needless to say, I am getting the next headrest from the company that the salesperson recommended.

Ironic?
I think this is called ironic. Remember old faithful? The chair I sit in right now Has a 12-year-old headrest From the very same company That made the back and headrest I was just talking about. I never had a problem with any of it. Just a curiosity...Have they been using Hardware that isn't as strong as they once did? All of us consumers know that many things these days, Seems to be made with inferior Materials, Which means we need to replace them more often. Not saying this company is doing that at all. But in light of how good My 12-year-old headrest is from the same company, Just makes you think.

A Blessing in disguise
I do look at all of the things we have discovered wrong, as a blessing. Even though it means I'm still not sitting in my new chair. If we did not discover the problems, I could've very well have been stuck with that chair and it would no longer be under warranty. Actually from what my salesperson told to me, because we're still setting up different things like which back or headrest to use, the warranty won't even begin until everything is all in place. That was what I was told anyway. I trust it is true. Of course, it is always wise consumerism to get everything In written form, To avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings.

Advice to anyone seeking a new Tilting Power chair
I can only speak as a consumer in Ontario Canada. My advice to anyone Seeking a new Wheelchair  Is, do your research. Don't just rely on the dealer or vendor To
Before My Power Chair
pick out the chair and all the components. Especially if you've been using one for over 30 years like me. If you are a brand-new user, Then still do your research,  but find a vendor your trust.

In Ontario We don't actually have a choice of vendors, Because Specialized Power seating/Power chairs Like mine, Are provided Through our government by a contract they make with one vendor in the province. Which means there is something called the central equipment pool. So if you're on ADP, The assistive devices program,  like I am, Sorry, You can't choose the vendor. Thankfully we have someone that we have trusted for over 20 years as our's- Even though the original company changed hands, many of the salespeople remained.
If you don't have to stick to those rules, Then ask around, Find a vendor you can trust in your city or town.

Finding What Is Best for you
Regarding the research stuff, I am specifically talking about the components and type of wheelchair. I feel rather foolish that I didn't do that because I didn't think
So far my best headrest
there were any other options. Based on past experiences, The parts and that, would be selected And I just assumed I had to accept it the way it was. Turns out it isn't true. The government And the vendor, as well as the physical therapist and occupational therapist that do the seating assessments -  all want to make sure that you get the Best seating suited for your situation. You probably already know that bad seating in a wheelchair can cause secondary disabilities like severe scoliosis. I say that as someone who has had severe scoliosis Since I was 13. Search is the experts and recommendations,  If you're new to the game.

There are lots of options Available. The salesperson just Does  the best They can And they tend to work with what's familiar to them. It is one of the reasons why it is now taking a bit longer To get my chair process Completed. Turns out I'm able to get a Larger head rest pad And different brackets. Well it turns out I can also try other backs for my wheelchair Until I find the right one. Of course I hope the next one We try, will be it. A part of me feels bad because My salesperson selected what they felt was best, But now that I discovered their options I couldn't choose from- I am waiting a bit longerTo get those new parts To try Out. My goal is that they will beekeepers In this process can soon come to an end. I am sure my salesperson Desire is the same thing I do.

Follow up clinic
In November, A follow-up Seating clinic has already been arranged. The original occupational therapist called me about a month ago to ask how everything was going to regarding my new chair. It was very encouraging To hear That I don't just have to settle for whatever is given to me. They keep working at It, No matter what it takes. Of course, I am not in denial, And realize nothing can be absolutely perfect. So I am okay with compromise, If it works well enough. Like There is My advice, Don't feel bad contacting your salesperson. Remember, The wheelchair is not free, and as nice as a maybe, they are doing their job. Setting you up with the wheelchair that works for you. They won't know what is wrong if you do not tell them. Give them a chance to correct what is right. Please don't be like my husband And settle for things That came on his chair- Yes don't work for him. And now it's too late to change them out without paying for it. :o)
Thanks for stopping by!
I said, I just feel bad Bothering my salesperson all the time.
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