Saturday, October 30, 2010

Excellent Innovation - SideStix and Renegade Wheelchair

Yesterday morning, Brenda Davies of Outdoor Access and I "crashed" an Occupational Therapy conference in Norwood, MA to hear Sarah Doherty give the keynote address, then recieved a pair of her all terrain sports crutches called SideStix to try out in our Universal Access programs. We spent the afternoon at Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Boston checking out the Renegade Wheelchair with John Rackley, its intrepid quadriplegic designer. What a treat it was to be introduced to two wonderful adaptive designers and their exceptional equipment, in one day!
Sarah shows off her SideStix in the sand.

Sarah Doherty grew up in Taunton, MA and traveled from Vancouver, BC to re-connect with the OT community in Massachusetts. At 13, she lost one leg, and has been on an amazing trajectory ever since. Her keynote speech was the story of her life, which includes not only becoming an occupational therapist, but being the first woman to summit Mt. Rainier in Washington on crutches and the first person to summit Mt. McKinley in Alaska with one leg. In the process, she learned a lot about what she needed from her crutches in extreme conditions, and SideStix are the result. Lightweight, resilient, and well-engineered, Sidestix feature shock absorption and rotational "ankles" with interchangeable tips for various conditions including snow, sand and mud. Sarah, now 50, will be field testing her shoulder-saving product on Mt. Rainier again next year. Go Sarah! I had arranged to pick up a demo package in advance, and still we couldn't believe we were walking away with a pair to try with our program participants! Check out SideStix on video!

John demonstrates the Renegade Wheelchair
outside Spaulding Hospital in Boston.
John Rackley is an avid hunter who suffered a spinal cord injury in a trampoline accident. As a C5/6 incomplete quadriplegic outdoorsman, he was frustrated with his conventional wheelchair not being able to get him out in the woods in light snow conditions. Since creating the Renegade wheelchair, John now shovels snow by hand with a 3 foot snowplow attachment on his chair. He also totes firewood with a wagon attachment, fishes with a fishing pole attachment, and uses his laptop with his laptop attachment. He is going deer hunting with it next week. As we test drove the Renegade in the 9th floor gym and outside the hospital with 3 other wheelchair users, we were impressed by it durability, stability, and thoughtful design with the independent function and 9 speed internal bike gearing of both handles. We are looking forward to seeing John and the Renegade next week to test in trail situations! Check out the Renegade Wheelchair on video in summer and winter!

I'll be reporting back on both of these exciting products after further field testing. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

cj's mom said...

Great stories! Very inspiring their outlook and equipment. How awesome is that Renegade Chair...looks a little Johndeerish! Love the concept!