ATtoday – Bespoke powerchair solution gives fashion vlogger greater independence

ATtoday – Bespoke powerchair solution gives fashion vlogger greater independence

Ellie Darby from Essex is one of a growing number of people in the UK with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 who is enjoying more freedom and independence due to her bespoke powerchair solution from Precision Rehab: the Piccolino Paravan.

Ellie loves 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 own fashion brand which is aimed at bringing more diversity into the fashion industry.

Once she has completed her gap year, Ellie is due to begin studying fashion at Brighton University. Having a new powerchair which 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.

She said: “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 recommended Matt and the rest of the team to Ellie. She then contacted Matt to arrange an assessment.

Ellie Darby with her Piccolino Paravan image“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,” Ellie commented. “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 tailored to meet the needs of the individual and Ellie’s Piccolino was also a bespoke solution.

Matt explained: “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.”

Ellie concluded: “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.”

The Piccolino has been designed to meet the needs of young powerchair users.

For more information on the full range of powerchairs available from Precision Rehab or to book a no-obligation assessment Contact Us

 Read the full published article here

THIIS. – June edition. – Taking control with facial expressions

An innovative powerchair control system that enables users to control their chair with their face is being supplied in the UK by Precision Rehab.

Created by Now Technologies, the Gyro Glory allows wheelchair users to operate their chair using their eyes, cheeks, mouth and any other part of their face they can move via a headset, which connects to the chair by Bluetooth.

In situations where there is the possibility of Bluetooth connectivity interference, the headset can also be connected directly to the chair with a cable, simultaneously charging the headset.

Matthew James, Director of Precision Rehab, commented: “Some of our clients have extremely complex needs and a product such as this will provide them with an increased level of independence, even those with the most restricted level of movement.” Featuring a built-in tremor filter to compensate for involuntary movements, the headset has a 20-hour battery life and can also be used to control computers and tablets.

The Gyro Glory headset is compatible with all powered wheelchairs available from Precision Rehab says the company. For more information Contact Us

 Read the full Article here – Page 11

ATtoday – New powerchair allows young boy to live his life to the full

8-year-old George Lockley, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, enjoys living life to the full and this is partly thanks to his Piccolino Paravan powered wheelchair from Precision Rehab.

George, who has a twin brother Harry and a younger sister Abby, was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2. As newborns, both twins appeared perfectly healthy, but as they approached their first birthday, their parents noticed that George’s development had appeared to plateau compared to Harry’s and following numerous tests and assessments, George was diagnosed with SMA Type 2.

“George’s condition means his muscles are extremely weak and he will never be able to stand or walk and he has therefore been reliant on manual and powered wheelchairs from the age of two” explained Liz, George’s mother.

In early 2018, the family decided the time had come to replace George’s powered wheelchair as he needed a larger chair with features not available on his existing model. The family attended several exhibitions to see what was available and George tried 4 or 5 different models.

Liz continued: “The Piccolino from Precision Rehab had been suggested to me by a couple of mothers’ who also have children with SMA Type 2 and as soon as we met Matt and George saw the Piccolino for himself he loved it. As George uses the chair for everything, we believe he should get the chair he wants – as long as it also meets all his requirements.”

In early May, Matt James, Director of Precision Rehab, visited George at home to conduct a full assessment to ensure the chair would meet all George’s individual needs.

“When Matt visited us with the demo chair, I was really impressed with the way he worked with George, he did not try and push the chair onto George but let him explore the chair and work out all the features for himself and took the time to answer all George’s questions – of which there were quite a few!!!,” said Liz.

As soon as the family had secured the necessary funding, Liz got in touch with Matt to order George’s chair which was delivered in November.

George Lockley with Precision Rehab Paravan Piccolino powerchair imageShe added: “George’s Piccolino is the best chair he has ever had. The service from Precision Rehab has been second to none and I would not hesitate in recommending them to any parent looking for a powered wheelchair for their child.

“The chair has changed our lives as a family as we can now do so much more together and George is happier and more confident than ever. For example, we recently took part in an inclusive 5K event in Windsor with George in his chair, Harry on his bike and me trying (badly!) to keep up with them on foot.”

For the parents of a child with a disability, toileting when out and about can often be difficult for all concerned as their child gets older and heavier due to the lack of good disabled toilets with adequate space and equipment.

However, thanks to George’s Piccolino being able to adjust to a horizontal position, it practically converts into a changing table which makes it much easier to help George with his toileting. George also hates missing out on any lesson time at school and thanks to this feature on the chair, the changing process is much quicker for staff to complete and George is only out of class for a few minutes.

Matt commented: “It has been such a pleasure to help George and his family. As with many Piccolino powered wheelchairs, we tailored George’s to meet his exact requirements including moving the joystick from left to right, fitting a different seat belt and custom lower leg length.

“We also fitted additional lateral supports to provide George with increased postural support as he is quite slim for his height. George also wanted black upholstery on the seating with red stitching and this was also provided.”

As George and his friends grow, he wants to be able to talk to them face to face and with the Piccolino’s rise function, he can do this whenever he wants.

“My new chair is brilliant, it is so comfortable. I love the way it goes up and down and flat and being able to see how fast I am going on the screen is great. I also love the headlights,” commented George.

For more information Contact Us

Read the full published article here

AMP – Precision Rehab to launch new chair next month

Equipment specialist, Precision Rehab, is set to debut a new chair at Naidex next month where it will be showcasing its existing range to end-users.

The dealer will also be pushing its Piccolino chair, which it says has enjoyed success with the company’s clients.

One of its clients, eight-year-old George Lockley, needed his powerchair replacing last year with one that was larger and had more features.

The family attended several exhibitions to see what was available and George tried four or five different models.

In May 2018, Precision visited George at home to conduct an assessment to ensure the chair would meet all George’s individual needs.

As soon as the family had secured the necessary funding it got in touch with Precision to order George’s chair which was delivered in November.

Matt James, director at Precision Rehab, said: “It has been such a pleasure to help George and his family.

“As with many Piccolino powered wheelchairs, we tailored George’s to meet his exact requirements including moving the joystick from left to right, fitting a different seat belt and custom lower leg length.

“We also fitted additional lateral supports to provide George with increased postural support as he is quite slim for his height. George also wanted black upholstery on the seating with red stitching and this was also provided.”

With seat widths of 270 – 430 mm, a depth of 320 – 385 mm, and back height of 400 – 480 mm combined with side supports, head support and other seat accessories all of which are multi variable and individually adjustable, the Piccolino aims to be a versatile powered wheelchair.

For more information Contact Us

Read the full published article here

ATtoday – Innovative head control allows users to control their powerchairs through head, cheek or eye movement

Created by Now Technologies, the Gyro Glory provides powered wheelchair users with an easy to use, discreet headset from which they can control their chair and computer through head, cheek or eye movement.

Precision Rehab is one of the first UK powered wheelchair suppliers to sign up as an official UK supplier for the Gyro Glory head control. The headset is compatible with all powerchairs available from Precision Rehab.

The headset is user-friendly, easy to set up and connects with the user’s chair via Bluetooth; a cable can also be used if there is interference – such as at music events or exhibitions – and this charges the headset at the same time if required.

Individuals put on the lightweight headset and position the click sensor approximately 1-2cm from the corner of their eye, cheek or any other part of the face which they can move, giving individuals the freedom to find which position suits them best.

Gyro Glory headset imageThe sensor works by detecting the light reflected from the surface of the user’s skin or eye, thus the sensor can detect when their eye is open/closed/partially closed or movements in the face where it is positioned.

In addition, the headset also features a built-in tremor filter to allow for involuntary movements and has 20-hour battery life.

Matthew James, Director of Precision Rehab, commented: “We are always looking for new advances in technology which can help our clients and the Gyro Glory headset is certainly one such product. Some of our clients have extremely complex needs and a product such as this will provide them with an increased level of independence, even those with the most restricted level of movement.”

Once set-up, the user can manage all the controls on their powerchair, as well as the mouse on their PC or laptop.

For more information on the Gyro headset or for the full range of powered wheelchairs available from Precision Rehab Contact Us

Read the full published article here

Kidz to Adultz South on 16th May at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre

Please join us on stand A1 to view our range of wheelchairs which will include:
  • Paravan GmbH powered wheelchairs, the Piccolino, PR30, PR40 & PR50
  • NEW HND Ultra LS300 wheelchair
  • Sunrise Q700-UP M standing chair

For more information please visit Kidz to Adultz South

PRECISION REHAB TO SHOWCASE THE NEW ULTRA LS300 POWERED WHEELCHAIRS AT KIDZ TO ADULTZ SOUTH – VERY LOW FLOOR TO SEAT HEIGHT!

With over 25 years experience in assessment, sales & servicing of specialist powered wheelchairs Precision Rehab will be launching the new LS300 multi-function model featuring an ultra-low floor to seat height of 300mm (30cm). Also on show is the Paravan range, along with the Q700 UP (M).

Precision Rehab have over 25 years experience in assessment, sales & servicing of specialist powered wheelchairs, we are an official supplier of Paravan powered wheelchairs in the UK & Ireland, we will be showing the Piccolino childrens powerchair, the PR40 Standing powered wheelchair, PR50 powered wheelchair with built in vehicle seat belt to improve drive from chair solutions, & the PR30 that has similar functions to the PR50 with comfort seating all our powered wheelchair offer the following functions, electric seat lift (very low seat to floor height, to eye to eye raised position), electric tilt in space -50/+22 degrees, electric recline backrest, electric seat slide (fore & aft), electric lower leg rest leg length and electric leg rest elevation, the complete range of Paravan chairs is factory built to meet the individuals requirement and can be customised to suit, we also have the Paravan vehicle docking system that will allow the user to lock into the driver or passenger position in their adapted vehicle quickly and safely to the ISO crash test pass standard, we also offer a system that will charge the chairs batteries whist you are docked in and driving.

Naidex 45 at the Birmingham NEC on the 26th & 27th March

Please join us on stand N1100 to view our range of wheelchairs which will include:
  • Paravan GmbH powered wheelchairs, the PR50, PR30 & PR Piccolino.
  • NEW Ultra LS300 wheelchair
  • Sunrise Q700-UP M standing chair

For more information please visit Naidex 45

PRECISION REHAB TO SHOWCASE THE NEW ULTRA LS300 POWERED WHEELCHAIRS AT NAIDEX 45 – VERY LOW FLOOR TO SEAT HEIGHT!

With over 25 years experience in assessment, sales & servicing of specialist powered wheelchairs Precision Rehab will be launching the new LS300 multi-function model featuring an ultra-low floor to seat height of 300mm (30cm). Also on show is the Paravan range, along with the Q700 UP (M).

Precision Rehab have over 25 years experience in assessment, sales & servicing of specialist powered wheelchairs, we are an official supplier of Paravan powered wheelchairs in the UK & Ireland, we will be showing the Biolution Standing powered wheelchair, PR50 powered wheelchair with built in vehicle seat belt to improve drive from chair solutions, PR30 that has similar functions to the PR50 with comfort seating & the Piccolino childrens powerchair, all our powered wheelchair offer the following functions, electric seat lift (very low seat to floor height, to eye to eye raised position), electric tilt in space -50/+22 degrees, electric recline backrest, electric seat slide (fore & aft), electric lower leg rest leg length and electric leg rest elevation, the complete range of Paravan chairs is factory built to meet the individuals requirement and can be customised to suit, we also have the Paravan vehicle docking system that will allow the user to lock into the driver or passenger position in their adapted vehicle quickly and safely to the ISO crash test pass standard, we also offer a system that will charge the chairs batteries whist you are docked in and driving.

THIIS. – POWERCHAIRS: THE TRADE’S NEED-TO-KNOW REPORT

In the world of mobility, powerchairs are big business for suppliers and dealers alike. With a global market estimated to reach close to £2billion by 2022 and a domestic private sector boosted the introduction of personal wheelchair budgets, powerchair manufacturers and retailers are working hard to secure their place in the sector and win over customers. Examining the powerchair segment in detail, THIIS investigates what is driving this competitive marketplace, what it takes to be a successful powerchair dealer, and what the future holds for those operating in the sector.

WHAT DO END-USERS WANT?

With more choice in the domestic market than ever before, suppliers are busy working on trendsetting devices to grab retailers’ and end-users’ attention. All this choice however, can make it difficult for retailers to decide which products are worth their time and money. Amongst all players in the market however, there are two elements widely acknowledged by retailers and suppliers as being fundamental when selling powerchairs.

Quality above all else
According to key retailers and manufacturers, product and service quality are always at the heart of any successful powerchair operation, with the two going hand-in-hand.
Simon Tempest, Head of Mobility at Ottobock UK, noted: “We find as a manufacturer that customers are looking for all the things you would expect in a powerchair — functionality, comfort, adaptability — but they demand quality.”
In a market with large, established players and disruptive new entrants, there is little room for a product lacking in quality, with dealers and customers not short on alternative options should one fail to deliver.
It is a point upheld by TGA’s National Sales Manager Tim Ross, who told THIIS that comfort, postural support and particularly product reliability continue to be major considerations in end-users’ buying decisions.
He added: “Dependable performance needs to be backed up by servicing and maintenance that is efficient and responsive, so independence is not compromised if a fault arises or replacement parts are needed.”
Beyond demands for the right product, suppliers and retailers note that customers demand the right level of service, be that in terms of supporting marketing materials, staff knowledge and aftersales support.
Selling to both end-users and the trade, specialist powerchair provider Precision Rehab’s Director Matthew James described that first and foremost, end-users are looking for dealers that know the market inside out.
“The most important thing that endusers are looking for is a professional and understanding service from start to finish,” he said.
“This includes product knowledge, knowledge of the end-user’s disability and requirements and understanding how to manage this and come up with a satisfactory solution. Most important is aftersales care – this must be carried out in a timely fashion, with UK parts and fast response times.” Invacare, one of the largest powerchair manufacturers on the market, also noted that service quality was just as important as product quality for end-users. Invacare’s Melanie Scrivener pointed out:
“Product reliability and durability rank highly, as well as buying from a recommended and knowledgeable dealer.”
For dealers to provide this high level of service desired by customers, the obligation is on suppliers to supply the necessary levels of support to their retail network, with high levels of supplier support being as crucial as high-quality products to encourage retailers to promote and sell a product.
A founding partner of lightweight wheelchair, powerchair and seating solution specialist Motus Medical, Chris Taylor stated that above all else, service support is what separates good suppliers from bad suppliers and largely determines which products his company will work with.
“Most importantly, it’s the backup we get from suppliers on spares and support on problem solving that really matters,” he said. “To be honest, we don’t have many major issues as we are very selective with suppliers as the ones we do use are very strong in that respect. It’s very important for our clients.”
This importance for service has not gone unnoticed by suppliers in the industry, with Karma’s General Manager Mark Duffield pointing out that the company invests in a large stock of spare parts and accessories to ensure it can meet the rapid response required by dealers for their customers.
Amongst the key suppliers THIIS spoke with, all highlighted supporting their respective dealer networks as a priority, with Karma, TGA Mobility, Ottobock UK, and Invacare all emphasising the significant investments they make in marketing and brand support, as well as product training.

Training for increasingly complex products
With a market growing constantly more competitive, suppliers continue to hunt for new ways to distinguish themselves in the market through technological advancements, with chairs becoming all the more complex. For dealers, this means continuously training service engineers to be able to work with these more intricate and complicated devices in order to meet the exceptional service demanded by the market.
It is one of the driving forces behind suppliers in the market investing heavily in their training offer to dealers.
Ottobock’s Simon Tempest highlighted how much of a role training played in the company’s retailer support offering: “We spend a lot of time visiting dealers up and down the country, providing general support, training courses on our products and any bespoke follow-up training whenever it’s required.”
Invacare and TGA also emphasised that training was one of the cornerstones of their dealer offer, with TGA’s Tim Ross explaining that the company ensures its dealer network has access and regular communication with the company’s technical staff.
“TGA helps dealers to achieve servicing excellence through regular updates to engineers and technicians so maintenance and repairs can be completed proficiently,” he stated.
With only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week however, there is a growing likelihood that dealers will specialise their complex powerchair offering, adopting a similar structure to that of Motus Medical, working with a limited number of key suppliers.
It has led to some suppliers investing in new technology to benefit not only end-users but dealers as well. One such example is Quantum’s new Interactive Assist app, allowing dealers’ service engineers to access a chair’s diagnostic data remotely.
As competition and technological developments expand, it may well be those suppliers that make life easier for burdened dealers that may see the most success with their retail network.

HOW ARE SUPPLIERS DIFFERENTIATING IN THE MARKET?

With the need to differentiate in a fiercely competitive market, there is a growing need for suppliers to add more unique selling points to their powerchairs, with a raft of new features appearing in the market over the years.

The rise in interconnectivity
With end-users living more interconnected lives and more everyday technology talking with each other, the same is expected from modern powerchairs.
Invacare’s Melanie pointed out: “Consumers are increasingly looking at technology that connects with their chair, particularly Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to use apps via a mobile phone.”
With apps that allow dealers and retailers more access to the devices – such as Quantum’s new Interactive Assist technology for dealers and TGA’s WHILL C’s ability for users to move the device using their smartphones – some powerchairs are challenging the product’s older associations with disability, with some positioning themselves as modern, high-tech innovations.
“If effective technology and appealing design are successfully leveraged, any historic stigmatism can be lost as assistive products are accepted more in society,” claimed Tim Ross.
“This widens the sector to younger customers and those who value style as well as function.”

Matching style with substance
Continuing with the idea of aesthetics, TGA Mobility’s National Sales Manager maintained customers are looking beyond functionality, prioritising style along with substance. “End-users are becoming more style conscious and hence seeking powerchairs that look good as well as deliver effective mobility”, he commented.
“There is a demand for streamlined designs that combine contemporary aesthetics with modern materials – helping to increase pride, inclusion and self-confidence.”
It is a point emphasised by many in the industry, with specialist wheelchair dealer Motus Medical’s Chris Taylor explaining that one of the foundations of his company’s success is it engineering department’s use cutting edge moulding technology to adapt shapes for clients.
“These days, it’s all about customising the chairs,” he stressed. Simon Tempest shared the view, noting that customers are increasingly expecting more freedom to tailor the chair to suit their own sense of individuality. “Their chair is their independence and it’s also a reflection on their personality, so additional features like a choice of colours, power sources for mobile phones, lights and more are also becoming more popular.”

Lightweight powerchairs becoming heavyweight players
Whilst the technical development of powerchairs for complex disabilities continues to rise, one of the quickest growing areas in the powerchair market is the rising demand for lighter weight and more compact chairs. Often designed for and marketed at those with less complex needs, Karma’s Mark Duffield noted: “Some users are looking for a light model to lift in and out of the car, others might need a compact chair to hoist into the car,” he observed.
“Users also might want to travel sitting in the product in the car. Karma have new products and designs to help with all of these requirements.” Shining a light on this increasing demand for lighter weight options, TGA’s Tim Ross said: “Designs that are transportable continue to grow in popularity as individuals want to travel further afield, nationally and internationally.
“Powerchairs that are lightweight or can be dismantled for storage in a car boot, plane or train, deliver a significant advantage as seamless transfers are possible from home to destination, without the need to hire unfamiliar products on arrival.”
This demand for lighter, more compact chairs has seen new entrants such as E-goes JoyRider powerchair, Karma’s eFlexx and Motion Healthcare’s Foldalite enter the powerchair arena and proving popular with dealers looking to extend their powerchair portfolio for end-users who may be just need additional mobility support, rather than having a complex requirement.

Tighter turning in tighter spaces
Alongside lighter weight, manoeuvrability is another feature used by suppliers to differentiate their products on the market and is largely in response to the more restricted spaces users are using the devices in, according to TGA’s Tim Ross.
“In terms of manoeuvrability, powerchairs need to be able to cope within reduced space these days as properties become smaller and pedestrian numbers increase,” he commented.
“Being able to move around an un-adapted home seamlessly or access shopping malls, lifts and offices, without awkward adjustments, reduces transit time and increases convenience.”
Manoeuvrability is one of the key elements TGA highlights relating to its WHILL C powerchair, boasting a unique wheel system that allows for a very tight turning circle.
TGA are not the only company to emphasise manoeuvrability however, with Ottobock’s Stuart Wheatley also making the case for the manufacturers’ latest range. “Combining the convenience and manoeuvrability of a mid-wheel drive powerchair with the outdoor performance of a rear-wheel drive version has been a conundrum for manufacturers for many years,” he said.
“However, Ottobock’s new torsion drive system on its Juvo B5 and B6 powerchairs manage to achieve this.”

HOW TO RETAIL POWERCHAIRS EFFECTIVELY

With an increasingly ageing population and with more CCGs introducing Personal Wheelchair Budgets throughout 2019, demand in the private market is only expected to rise in the years to come, making powerchairs an attractive product area for dealers.
For dealers that may have only sold mobility scooters in the past or operate strictly online-only business models however, Tim Ross cautioned that the requirements to retail powerchairs effectively are different. “When supplying powerchairs, face to-face assessment is 100 percent essential. The needs of each potential customer must be thoroughly checked to ensure the right product and adaptations are supplied – hence resulting in maximised independence,” advised Tim.
“Often people seeking powerchairs have more complex needs than mobility scooter customers – therefore purchasing via the internet alone may not be an appropriate route to market.”
Additionally, Tim says a structured assessment process, combined with actively listening to an end-user, will result in a better outcome for end-users.

Knowledge is power
For dealers interested in selling powerchairs, Precision Rehab’s Matthew James elaborated that to carry out assessments, staff need to about the products and the disabilities they are likely to encounter.
“There are many things that retailers need to have in place to effectively prescribe powerchairs, however, we feel the most important are the fast, effect aftersales care; parts in stock; and experienced assessors that know their products inside and out,” stressed Matthew.
“They should also know their clients’ disabilities and postural requirements, along with all the legal requirements and restrictions based on the powerchairs classification.”
Discussing the process of assessments in more detail, Motus Medical’s Chris Taylor told THIIS how his team of powerchair experts work with end-users to identify the right chair for their needs.
“It’s really all about our employees and their passion for finding technology to match client needs and demands,” described Chris. “We use a client information sheet to create a contract with the clients, taking them through all of the hazards and benefits of becoming a powerchair user for the first time, updating existing clients on the new-fangled versions, or regulatory criteria.”
The importance of providing assessment for customers is echoed by Karma’s Mark Duffield, who pointed out that for powerchair dealers, having the skill to assess and the facility to service are two valuable aspects for a successful powerchair dealer.
“The ability to assess and identify the right product for a user is vital,” he explained. “Having somewhere the user can come to have the chair tweaked and maintained is invaluable for the user and often underrated.” Backing up Mark’s point, Ottobock’s Stuart also discussed the advantages afforded to dealers that have the space to offer end-users a range of options, however, pointed out that a physical space is not a prerequisite to being an effective powerchair dealer.
“It is important customers can see the products they are interested in, so it is important retailers have plenty of options on display, together with supporting marketing material so the customer can make an informed choice on what’s right for them,” underlined Stuart.
“Ad as mentioned before, it is vital retailers have comprehensive knowledge of the products so they can answer any questions a customer may have.
“Finally, it’s important for retailers to be flexible – some customers may not be able to visit the showroom so a home visit might be suitable, while an easy to navigate website would also be a plus.”
For specialist powerchair dealers Motus Medical and Precision Rehab, both emphasised that their business models do not rely on physical showrooms, noting that suitability for an end-user is best established by having them use their chairs in the environments they will be used in on a daily basis. Motus Medical’s Chris Taylor said: “We don’t operate out of a showroom as we seldom sell basic products and we stress to clients the need for seeing them in the home environment, so even though we have had people at HQ from time to time, we always need to see where the product is being used, even so much as going to the local park or cafe with them.”
The point was echoed by Precision Rehab’s Matthew James, adding: “We do not believe a showroom is always necessary as any client will need to try the powerchair in the environment in which they will be using it. This is vital to ensure the powerchair works where it needs to, be at home, at their workplace, in their vehicle (either as a passenger or driver), along with being suitable for any hobbies and interests the user may have.
“These cannot be tested and checked in a big showroom.”

THE IMPACT OF PERSONAL WHEELCHAIR BUDGETS

One of the biggest opportunities in the private market for both manufacturers and dealers alike is the continued spread of Personal Wheelchair Budgets, with CCGs up and down the country adopting and rolling out the scheme designed to provide end-users with a greater say in the powerchairs they choose.
“I can only see this as a benefit to both the dealer market and the end users as it’s freedom of choice, what could be better than that?” said Motus Medical’s Chris Taylor.
The mobility dealer’s optimism was shared by all players THIIS spoke with, encouraged by the idea of more end-users engaging with the private market.“I think Personal Wheelchair Budgets might open the market up for retailers and suppliers to market our products to a wider audience,” reaffirmed Karma’s Mark Duffield.
His hopes were echoed by Ottobock’s Stuart Wheatley, with the Head of Mobility noting that Personal Wheelchair Budgets will enable users the opportunity to access features sometimes previously unavailable to them through the NHS.
“I believe personal wheelchair budgets could have a positive effect on the market when individuals may have unmet needs. An example would be when a seat riser option is used on a power wheelchair for reaching high cupboards or transferring to different seat surfaces,” he explained.
“This option is not always available through state funding but with the Personal Wheelchair Budget there may be more flexibility in the provision. This could then enable individuals to access this option and therefore enhance their level of independence.”
With a market already experiencing fierce competition and an influx of new, discerning customers with the freedom of choice at their fingertips, it is likely that the pace of innovation will only quicken as suppliers seek new ways to distinguish themselves in an increasingly saturated segment.
“As end users obtain greater control of their own budgets, we believe there will be a demand for more choice within the market,” suggested TGA’s Tim Ross. “New technologies and innovations will need to appear so that independent mobility can be achieved for a wider range of lifestyle and disabilities.”
The National Sales Manager for TGA went on to say that whilst price will remain a major factor in endusers’ decision-making process, customers are often willing to spend more to get the right chair for themselves, whilst popular leasing schemes such as Motability will continue to provide customers with an alternative to private ownership.

The race to establish brand loyalty
Trust and loyalty are two factors more prevalent in mobility than in many other markets, with mobility products and powerchairs in particular playing a vital role in the quality of an end-user’s life.
Market research carried out by Nielsen in 2016 found that disabled consumers are more loyal to brands than almost any other consumer group, with a consultant from AdWeek highlighting that disabled consumers are more likely to be advocates for the businesses and brands that they love because they are hungry for products that work for them. This loyalty is largely driven by the high-degree of trust afforded to brands of powerchairs by end-users, who rely on the devices to fulfil one of the most important facets of their lives, their mobility.
Suppliers and retailers that do a good job are rewarded by endusers who are more likely to sing a products’ or business’ praises to friends and family, spreading awareness through valuable word-ofmonth recommendations. For competitors, trying to entice consumers away from brands they are loyal to is a difficult task, hence the importance of being first to establish brand loyalty with end-users.
It has led to a significant investment in marketing by key players keen to raise brand and product awareness of their products amongst both endusers and retailers in the market.
As Karma’s Mark Duffield explained: “We spend a lot marketing our products to generate interest in our products and brand.” Whilst often not selling to end-users, powerchair suppliers can often be found at shows and exhibitions across the UK throughout the year, whilst TGA’s recent regional Retailer Roadshow reflects its desire to get in front of dealers face-to-face. “TGA’s trade programme includes free outreach roadshows, marketing, PR and point of sale – all aimed at supporting powerchair sales for dealers,” commented TGA’s Tim Ross. “This regional activity is bolstered by national brand building and continual social media and press coverage which focuses on evidence-based testimonials.”
With a potentially new, untapped customer base soon to enter the private market through Personal Wheelchair Budgets, alongside the ever-popular Motability scheme, marketing and advertising in the industry is likely to see as much growth as product innovation.
For manufacturers and retailers, establishing loyalty with customers early on is vital to avoid having to try and attempt to sway committed consumers away from their favourite brands and dealers further down the line.

ON THE HORIZON

With a population that continues to age, a national personal budget initiative encouraging end-users to consider buying privately, and an extremely loyal customer base, it is no surprise that the powerchair market is one of the most hotly contested areas of mobility.
It is a market not without its challenges however, with TGA’s Tim Ross indicating that as supplier and retailer competition increases, ensuring end-users are not taken advantage of becomes all the more crucial. “One of the main challenges will always be signposting people to the right powerchair supplier. It is essential that accurate and objective information is available, particularly online, that helps individuals make an informed decision,” cautioned Tim.
“Customers need to be in control of the purchasing process and to be able to talk to specialists with genuine expertise – not pushed into buying a product that only suits the dealer.
“As the market expands, without regulation, more suppliers can appear who are not ethical or have a true understanding of conditions. Therefore, it is imperative credible businesses continue to improve assessment processes and access to accurate information so end users make the right choice.”
In the more immediate future, Brexit concerns could spell trouble for suppliers and dealers in the industry, particularly in relation to quick access to vitally important spares needed for servicing and new chairs to meet growing demand.
Distributing the Paravan range of powerchairs from Germany, Precision Rehab’s Matthew James discussed what effect Brexit could play on his company: “As most of the Brexit agreement is unknown, it is a hard question to answer, however, we predict it will slow our delivery times from the EU by around 2 weeks and increase the amount of administration dealing with import paperwork required for customs clearance and duties. “Hopefully the euro exchange rate will settle and the pound will return to rates before Brexit as then prices would be better for the end users.” Whilst Brexit is often spoken of as the troll lurking under the bridge for many UK businesses, Karma’s Mark stated that it is the level of competition in the UK market that is the real challenge for suppliers, stressing the need to stay one step ahead with innovation.
“Competition is the biggest challenge but fortunately Karma are constantly striving to improve their products and designs to satisfy demand, so they’re a great supplier to work with,” he remarked.
Despite the challenges ahead, players in the market remain largely optimistic and those that continue to prioritise the two core foundations of product quality and service quality will be well-placed to reap the rewards on offer in the expanding powerchair market.

For more information on how Precision Rehab can help you find your next wheelchair which is suitable for all your needs Contact Us

 Read the full published article here – Page 72-82

Why I wish I had known about Naidex sooner!

It’s been eight weeks since the order for my dream electric wheelchair was placed. I have had many appointments with Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, suppliers and my local Wheelchair Services throughout the years. Many of these appointments just ended in tears. I became reluctant to try any new equipment as I knew finding a chair which would allow me to be comfortable and independent, was incredibly challenging and emotionally draining for me.

I have a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2. SMA is a rare, degenerative, genetically inherited neuromuscular condition. As a result of a delay in diagnosis of scoliosis on top of this, I have alway had quite complex postural and positional needs. 

Without the correct equipment, general life can be a struggle, if not impossible. For instance, the chair I currently have is an indoor chair. It has zero tilt functions, is rigid and makes it impossible for adequate positional changes. It is not intended to be used on long distances, it can run out of charge easily, limiting my social outings. 

All chairs (including my current chair) I have come across, simply do not meet my needs. This has been the reoccurring issue when seeking an appropriate chair.

I had pretty much lost all hopes in finding the right chair. But at the beginning of March, I was approached by Naidex and asked if I would like to come a long and be an ambassador. I’m going to be honest and admit that I had never heard of Naidex until then. 

As stated on their website, ’Naidex is Europe’s most established trade, professional and public event dedicated to the care, rehabilitation and lifestyle of people with a disability or impairment.’ Naidex is free to attend and welcomes all walks of life. Naidex hosts hundreds of exhibitors, seminars and live demos. Including opportunities to engage in discussions with professionals and receive 1-2-1 guidance. 

Due to previous not so pleasant experiences with specialists and trialing equipment (which clearly was not tailored for me), I began believing that my body was the problem. I was afraid of feeling ashamed by being surrounded by all sorts of equipment that wouldn’t be suitable for me, however, rolling into the NEC I soon realised that boy, was I wrong! I was spoiled for choice and felt like I was stepping into a candy shop, surrounded by people who wanted to engage and discuss the many ways I didn’t even realise my life could be improved. For once I didn’t feel pressured, I felt confident and even curious to discover and eager learn.

After a couple of hours of chatting, eating and observing, I then happened to meet the lovely team at Precision Rehab. They specialise in wheelchairs and adaptive technology. I had a delightful chat to Matt and it was clear that he was passionate about his job and was very experienced. He was understanding and instilled me with confidence, then suddenly I decided to brave another dreaded assessment. 

On the 23rd of May, Matt drove to my house with variety of chairs for me to try. But this assessment was different and somewhat of a Cinderella moment. (Except with wheels, of course!) 

Never in my dreams did I believe that I would find such a cutting-edge and comfortable yet sassy and stylish chair. The PR30 was made for me! The Paravan PR30 features many elaborate functions which will allow for independent positional changes to help manage and relieve pain to allow me to sit comfortably for longer periods of time. I’m also very much looking forward to expanding my shoe collection as I will finally be able to wear high heels(!!!) all thanks to the electric footplate adjustment feature, of course!

I would have never discovered Precision Rehab, nor found the courage to arrange an assessment  if it wasn’t for their stand at Naidex. 

I strongly recommend everyone to visit Naidex as there is something for everyone and you might just surprise yourself and discover something new as I did. I wish I had known about it sooner. I’m currently in the stage of my life where I’m looking to move out of my family home and I hand on heart I cannot wait be back at Naidex in the new year to discover what else is out there for me!

For more informaiont Contact Us

Article by: Kat Z Claws
Youtube Channel: Kat Z Claws

THIIS.- Precision Rehab’s powerchair display leads to OT Show success

After showcasing a range of mobility aids at the 2018 Occupational Therapy Show, including the UPnRIDE, Sunrise Q700 UP M and Paravan powerchairs, Precision Rehab has said that it received extremely positive feedback from OTs visiting the exhibition.

Precision displayed the UPnRIDE and Sunrise Q700 UP M standing powered wheelchairs alongside the Paravan PR50, Paravan PR30 Evo II and the Paravan Piccolino, which features a low to floor seat height of 38cm with an option of 36cm.

Matthew James, Co-Director at Precision Rehab, commented: “The OT Show has been great for us in the past, and this year’s event was no different.

“The two-day event was a fantastic platform for us to showcase and demonstrate our range of powered wheelchairs to OT’s from around the UK and discuss their client’s requirements and book assessments in a relaxed and friendly environment.”

To read the full published article click here