Ellie Darby from Essex is one of a growing number of people in the UK with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 who are enjoying more freedom and independence than ever before thanks to Precision Rehab who recently supplied Ellie with a bespoke Piccolino Paravan powerchair.

Ellie first love is fashion, and she has refused to let her condition get in her way. In addition to working part-time at a clothing shop, Ellie also volunteers for an autism charity, runs her own YouTube channel and is now planning to launch her very own fashion brand which she says is aimed at bringing more diversity into the fashion industry and is designed for everyone with or without a disability.

Once she has completed her gap year, Ellie is due to begin studying fashion at Brighton University. Having a new powerchair which Ellie knows she can rely on will be invaluable for when she is travelling around campus and will also provide peace of mind for her friends and family while she is enjoying student life.

When she was two, Ellie started using a powerchair for the first time – a day she admits changed her life and since then she has had numerous chairs.  “My condition means my muscles waste away and I have never been able to walk or stand unaided so like many other people with SMA a powerchair is literally a lifeline and without it I am stranded.  I’d had my previous powerchair for 10 years and I knew the time was coming for me to change it as it was simply coming to the end of its life”.

Several of Ellie’s friends who also have SMA Type 2 had already purchased chairs from Precision Rehab and highly recommended Matt and the rest of the team to Ellie so she contacted Matt to arrange an assessment.  “From the first time I spoke with Matt I was struck by his commitment to making sure I got the chair which would meet all my requirements.  I explained to Matt what I needed and how my new chair had to replicate the seating and positioning of my old model and Matt assured me this would be achieved – he didn’t let me down!”.

Every chair supplied by Precision Rehab is bespoke and tailored to meet the needs of the individual and Ellie’s Piccolino is a perfect example of this as Matt explains:  “Ellie had some very specific requirements, we fitted a new back rest which was identical to the one she had on her previous chair along with a swing away lateral support and modified the footplate to ensure it fitted Ellie’s feet.  To help Ellie control the functions of her chair we fitted a more sensitive switch and for increased comfort we replaced the standard arm rests with Gel Ovations specialist arm rest pads and moved the arm rest closer to the seat”.

Over the years, Ellie has seen first-hand how powerchair technology has evolved and is the first to admit she has never had a chair as advanced as her Piccolino.  “I just love my new chair, it is so comfortable, I have much more room than in my previous chair and the level of seat functions is amazing.  For example, I can now slide my seat forward so I can sit closer to a table when working on my fashion brand or YouTube channel or enjoying dinner with family or friends.  However, the best thing for me is the powered swing away mounting for my controller, for years I have had to ask friends to move it for me but not anymore – these may be little things but they make a huge difference to me as I have never had either before

From day one everyone at Precision Rehab has been amazing, they really listen and take into consideration what you need from your chair to ensure it will fit in with your lifestyle. Nothing is overlooked, they remember every little detail that you tell them, going above and beyond for you from the first assessment, through to delivery, with any queries you may have once you have your powerchair quickly answered.  My new chair is going to make a huge difference when I start University and I would not hesitate in recommending Precision Rehab to anyone looking for a new powerchair, in fact, I have already done so to several friends” concluded Ellie.

Precision Rehab offer free no obligation assessments on all of its powerchairs. The Piccolino which has been designed to meet the needs of many young powerchair users,  with a maximum user capacity of 80kg, puncture proof, non-marking tyres, high tech lighting combined with seat widths of 270 – 430 mm,  depths of 320 – 385 mm, and back heights of 400mm – 480mm the Piccolino is a truly versatile powerchair.  Additional features include side supports and head support with further seating accessories available all of which are multi variable and individually adjustable.

Precision Rehab is a family business, run by Matthew James and his wife Emma.  The Precision Rehab team has over 25 years’ experience in the assessment, sales & servicing of specialist powerchairs.