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!
Kat Z Claws