Loopwheels are changing the way wheelchair users move – so much so that the pain and exhaustion from pushing over uneven surfaces can be relieved immensely. Here, Loopwheels director Ian Abbott explains how the wheels work and why they can make such a difference to pushing...
As the NHS itself reports, NHS wheelchair services are sub-optimal and frustrating for both practitioners and patients. The main constraints are budgets, awareness of
the options available and risk aversion. This leads to sub-optimal chairs being supplied, which means the patient does not get the right chair. Standard issue NHS chairs fit badly and are heavy.
Wheelchair users need a well-fitted chair, which is not too heavy, with the right cushion for them, and the right wheels and push rims. They also need ongoing support to use the chair well, and to do the right exercise and to protect the shoulders from rotator cuff wear.
Pavements are a pain
Loopwheels help wheelchair users manage the highly damaging effects of Whole Body Vibration (WBV), which causes wheelchair users to suffer from lower back pain, fatigue, spasticity, spasms, pressure sores and other symptoms associated with vibration of the spinal column. We have recently published a Clinical Indications Guide, which helps clinicians and patients understand the symptoms that Loopwheels can help manage, and those users who would best benefit (typically wheelchair users who are travelling on uneven surfaces -including pavements and tarmac, and are between 50 and 120 kilos).
Managing these issues gives the wheelchair user much more confidence to tackle issues like returning to work or going to the park with the family. It enables them to go further and do more.
Loopwheels work because that have a ‘spring’ between the rim of the wheel and the hub, rather than a spoke. A spoke simply transmits most of the vibration to the hub and hence the seat, whereas a spring absorbs the vibration and reduces the vibration reaching the seat by up to 70%. To create the solution that we have today, we have tried to understand as much as we can about customers’ needs and the materials we use. Some of the research we have done includes a full review of published academic studies on the effects of vibration on the human body, and a customer survey of UK Loopwheels customers. We’ve done extensive refinement and testing using ‘stress analysis’, ‘rolling roads’, ‘vibration plates’ and ‘user trials’.
A positive contribution
One of our clients, Myna, told us: ”What a result! No more pain when I’m going to bed, no longer having to devise detours to avoid obstacles, not having to cancel birthdays due to fatigue and pain. No more having to spend three days in bed to recover from a day out. The Loopwheels make such a positive contribution to my life... and help me participate in society in a fun, meaningful and purposeful way.”
This year we are exhibiting at Naidex in March, Rehacare in Düsseldorf in September and have some exiting new wheels in development, but we have to keep those under wraps for now! We are increasingly working with Spinal Injury Clinics around the world to gather further clinical evidence on the benefits of Loopwheels to ensure we can get them to everyone who could benefit from them.