Friday, September 20, 2013

Whirlwind RoughRider: A Hardcore Set of Humanitarian Wheels

A remake of the 1960s television series, “Ironside”, a detective show whose protagonist is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, will air on October 2nd. Of course, it doesn't come without a bit of controversy. Detective Ironside will be played by Blair Underwood rather than by a paraplegic actor. I could go into the various viewpoints on this subject and perhaps will at some other point, but today I would rather share some information about the rad company that made Underwood/Ironside's wheelchair.

Whirlwind Wheelchair International has been creating wheelchairs specially designed to accommodate users in developing countries for over 30 years. I don't know if I can properly explain how awesome these things are. Not only does Whirlwind help improve the lives of the disabled, it also promotes sustainable local economic growth by creating chairs that can be fixed by locals using materials that are easily obtained in a given area. The wheels are made from bicycle tires, which makes them affordable, easy to replace, and practical for travel on multiple road surfaces. Also, the bearings are the same used in Honda motorcycles, which are very common modes of transportation throughout the developing world.

The chairs are inexpensive and durable, and they are suited for the user's individual needs. For example, muddy or broken sidewalks with no curb ramps make standard hospital wheelchairs prone to tipping, but Whirlwind's RoughRider design has an extra long wheelbase for increased stability. Users can even climb down sidewalk curbs without fear of tumult.

Because of their easy maneuverability and functionality, Whirlwind's chairs allow users to be more active players in their communities and therefore increase their quality of life. One user even said, “In this chair, no one mistakes me for a beggar,” and an employee at a wheelchair shop was able to continue tending chickens in his backyard thanks to his dirt-friendly RoughRider.

And there's more! Whirlwind's chairs are adjustable to user's backs and have special pressure sore relief cushions. Both of these features make the chairs more comfortable and better suited for individual users, as adjusting the back to fit the contours of the user's spine helps prevent further injury and pain.

Also, these things are aesthetically pleasing. They look strong and mobile rather than stiff or clunky, which only adds to the appeal of these high-functioning wheelchairs. And, although they were originally designed for the developing world, RoughRiders are now available in the United States. I think they sound great for an Oregonian: outdoorsy, adventurous, and sustainable!

What do you think about Whirlwind's wheelchairs? Their philosophy? Or maybe you'd like to start a dialogue about Ironside? That would be great, too. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment