A Wheelchair Story with Special Meaning....

January 10, 2014

This wheelchair story has special meaning to me. It involves a person my age who I knew back in my high school days who was involved in an accident in 1992 in which a car drove over her legs. She is now in a wheelchair and lives alone. Her life was changed forever...her life's hopes and dreams dashed.

The LifeNets wheelchair project has been able to help her in a special way on a few occasions over the past years. She write this letter of appreciation:

--Victor Kubik

Dear LifeNets,

Since getting hit by a car I have been using a wheelchair since 1992.  I’ve been using the same wheelchair for 21 years.  Medical Assistance will pay for a new wheelchair every 5 years but I can’t get a new wheelchair through the system that meets my needs.  Victor offered to just buy me a new wheelchair with funding from LifeNets.

The price for a new wheelchair that meets my needs is almost $3,000.00.  I have parts of a rigid frame wheelchair that was built for someone who is 5’2” with 24” back wheel assembly.  I am 4 inches taller.  My Quickie 2 manual wheelchair that has 26” diameter back wheel assembly can be refurbished to be just as good as new. I figured that if the rigid frame can be adapted to switch out the back wheel assembly that is on my Quickie 2 manual wheelchair I can have 2 wheelchairs for much less cost than $3,000.00 for a new wheelchair.  The Quickie 2 manual folding wheelchair had some rusted out parts that needed to be replaced. 

I found APA Medical, a wheelchair store in Minneapolis.  The best mechanic in town, Jerry did an appraisal and with just $833.00 for parts and 2 days labor plus renting a wheelchair while the refurbishing is being done, I can end up with 2 wheelchairs!  I just picked up the tab on new front tires and inner tubes.  LifeNets paid the $833.00 to the wheelchair shop.

The folding wheelchair can be put into the trunk of a car.  The problem with folding wheelchairs is that holes are drilled into the weakest part of the frame for a bolt.  Holes drilled into the frame is what  causes the frame to break.  I have broken a couple of these frames.  An engineer told me that instead of drilling holes in the frame if there is an external spring-loaded brace where the crossbars meet then at least theoretically the frame should not break.  I haven’t seen folding manual wheelchairs made that way.

The rigid frame eliminates the problem of breaking frame.  The disadvantage of the rigid frame is that it doesn’t fold to fit into a car, so the quick-release back wheels have to be removed.  That is a messy situation because the quick-release axles have to be well-lubricated.  The rigid frame takes up more cubic space than a folding frame wheelchair.

What I really love about these 2 wheelchairs is the footrest assembly. Curved loop footrests with no plates instead of ugly rectangular plates with sharp corners. Minimalist curved lines have more eye appeal than straight lines with sharp corners.  I was lucky to snap up these kind of footrests because all I see on wheelchair catalogs is ugly rectangular footrests.
Instead of $3,000.00 for a new wheelchair for $833.00 I have 2 wheelchairs that are even better than new!

Thank you, LifeNets!