Monday, February 29, 2016

Trionic Veloped - Off-Road Walker for Hiking

The Trionic Veloped Off-Road Mountain Walker is a wonderful supportive aid for people with limited mobility who want to explore trails and expand their hiking options. We've been gradually integrating this attractive device into our adaptive outings in Massachusetts State Parks. This all-terrain walker has turned out to be a great match for several of our Universal Access Program participants with disabilities.

Previous to the introduction of the Veloped Mountain Walker - also called by the simpler name Trek - I noticed some people were bringing wheelchairs or rollators to hiking programs to provide balance and portable seating during the trail experience. This standard medical equipment is not designed for off-road conditions and often doesn't perform well on irregular pavement, let alone on a trail. Tiny wheels on the front casters of standard wheelchairs are notorious for getting stuck or requiring additional effort or support to push through gravel, brickwork and other uneven surfaces.

With four larger wheels set in 3 locations (the front wheel is doubled with adjustability for 3 or 4 wheel contact with the ground), the Veloped Trek offers easier pushing through irregular terrain and can handle obstacles like curbs up to five inches tall. It has a sleek overall design I like for including those using it in group outings. Other all-terrain walkers I researched looked far too bulky for trail use in groups.

The Veloped Trek has a padded canvas sling seat that slides between it's position as a seat within the walker frame to covering a front compartment for carrying belongings. With the seat in place over the compartment, a person can walk partially within the frame of the walker, rather than behind it, allowing for a range of walking positions. This design versatility offers more options to the user, even for how they bring along personal items.

Two settings at the front of the Veloped offer tracking options, signified by graphics that illustrate an urban choice and a natural landscape choice for terrain. The urban choice offers easier maneuverability for flexible turning. The natural off-road choice allows for more steady tracking, by dropping the fourth wheel to the ground. If you are going up a long and gradual grade for instance, this option would help prevent unnecessary deviation from your forward momentum, conserving energy. I find the urban setting to be user friendly on mild to moderate natural terrain.

Trionic makes several styles of active walkers, including for outdoor fitness, city streets, golf and hunting. The Veloped Trek, like the others, is intended to be a balance aid rather than a weight bearing aid while walking. It is built to be durable, with a user weight limit of 330 pounds. It comes in three sizes. We have used the Medium and Large - both appear to be the same size, but the upper frame elevates to a taller setting on the Large, accommodating people up to 6' 11" in height. The frame of the Veloped limits the width of people sitting in it, although if you are wider than the frame width, it is possible to enter sideways, turn and sit down. The ergonomics of the Veloped Trek are well designed and we've seen no obvious usage problems with this Trionic product so far. We have not tested it on more rugged trails yet and look forward to doing so this year.

We have found that individuals with traumatic brain injury and vision impairments appreciate this device for the sense of security it provides. The walker serves as a large front bumper, minimizing or preventing bodily contact with trees, other people and obstacles if navigation is compromised. People with limited capacity for walking can get farther out into the landscape using the Veloped Trek. I like how it extends the ability to ambulate for those who might otherwise have to choose to sit down and be pushed in a wheelchair to get further into nature.

The Veloped Trek retails for around $1000, so it won't fit in everyone's budget. I see great potential with this product for older folks with limited mobility at home, traversing their backyard, back forty, or neighborhood, in addition to trails. It comes with a well-designed small daypack. Additional accessories that can be purchased include a rain cover and strap for crutches to attach to the frame. The Veloped Trek has proven to be a great addition to the adaptive recreation equipment available for public use at DCR's Universal Access Programs in Massachusetts State Parks.

1 comment:

Marjorie Turner Hollman--Author, Easy Walks in MA series said...

Wow--never seen these, and what a great idea. Thanks for letting us know, and giving information about details, how it works best. Sharing on Easy WAlks in Massachusetts Facebook page. Again, thanks so much!