Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beach Wheelchairs - What is Your Experience?

Yesterday I took a trip to Lake Wyola in Shutesbury on a hot day as part of testing the Tiralo Beach Chair. Its a lounge chair on wheels, made in France, that does a nice job of not just getting people with physical limitations to the water's edge, but also into the water on a supportive frame that floats. Turns out to be a very stable and fun experience that anyone can appreciate!

The Tiralo has been around for awhile as a beach wheelchair product, but I'm not sure how much visibility or use it gets in the U.S. It is recommended for calm water, and vulnerable passengers should wear a personal flotation device. We purchased one a few years ago and finally took a test plunge with it. Very refreshing! To get one now is probably a special order for around $2500.

We use the standard ATC 100 (shown below) for public use in Massachusetts State Parks. This 4 wheel PVC pipe chair is bulky but holds up well to the heavy use it gets on ocean beaches, as well as on small inland beaches like Lake Wyola.

Both chairs require at least one person to assist the user and either push the chair as with the ATC 100 or pull it in the case of the Tiralo. To get out of the chair to swim may require more assistance depending upon the individual and their needs. The ATC 100 supports people up to 275 pounds and the Tiralo can handle up to 300 pounds, according to their specifications.

Many other chairs designs, such as the Landeez and De-Bug, have wonderful features and are great for personal use. If you are in the market for one, you'd probably pay at least $1500 these days. You can find an interesting selection available for purchase online from Access to Recreation. At AbleData you can compare more styles listed  with info on where to obtain them. Many park systems and public beaches offer beach wheelchairs for use, which makes them more readily available to everyone. Click here to learn where beach wheelchairs can be found in Massachusetts State Parks.

As summer continues, we are making the rounds to check our beach wheelchairs and keep them in full operating order. We welcome your input about experiences you've had with our beach wheelchairs or others. Do you have one of your own? What styles have you tried? What features do you prefer in a beach wheelchair? What model do you recommend?

Thanks to Arlie Cohn for beach wheelchair maintenance this summer!


Kenny said...

Hi Marcy,

I've never seen a Tiralo Beach Chair but it looks nice. In the past I've used an ATC 100 at State Beaches but didn't find them comfortable and some weren't well maintained.

A few years ago my parents got me a Tilt n' Space De-Bug All Terrain Wheelchair by Deming Designs, Inc made by Mike and Karen Demming. It's very comfortable. It has interchangeable beach and pool wheels and I love it because I can use it at any beach or pool that has roll-in access. The website for the DeBug is @ Mike and Karen are wonderful and their customer service is fantastic!

Pam said...

Wow, you continue to have such rich content and useful stuff for the differently abled community.
I hope lots and lots of people are aware of this!

Anonymous said...

I saw these posted somewhere else and it is a really great idea. Hope it is working out for many people.