MANUAL Chairs!

The influx of buzz words like "ultralightweight" and "titanium construction" seem commonplace, but is today's manual wheelchair market really all about weight? While no one can deny the importance of featherweight construction, top manufacturers say there's more to these skinny contenders. Check out what makes these products the heavyweights of the industry.

Bragging Rights: More Choices!
Gendron Inc.
Manual Chair: Regency XL 2000 Bariatric Wheelchair
Steve Cotter, VP/Director of Sales & Marketing
(800) 537-2521

What's Your Best Feature?
Our weight capacity, adjustability and seating choices.

New For '06:
We've increased our seating choices to 34 inches wide.

Latest Trend:
Users and therapists are requesting more adjustability to custom fit the chair for the client.

Reason to Buy:
Because we offer the greatest number of choices to custom fit the client: seat dimension options, seat-to-floor height options, seat tilt options. We?ve been designing bariatric wheelchairs longer than any other manufacturer, and we know how important these features are to the client: seat positioning, ease of propelling, seat-to-floor height, back angle and arm styles.

It's not bragging if you can back it up. --Muhammad Ali

Bragging Rights: Built Tough!
Medline Industries Inc.
Manual Chair: Excel Shuttle
Lori Bolas, director, marketing communications

What's Your Best Feature?
Medline chairs are the most durable with our tig welding and stainless steel ratchet bars.

New For '06:
Our quick-release wheels on several of our manual chairs are new and in lock-step with a growing demand for easy-to-use wheelchairs.

Latest Trend:
The market is trending toward affordable chairs that may serve as a second chair. As baby boomers get older and demand greater mobility than their parents did, there is a growing interest in transport chairs. There is also a growing demand from patients and therapists looking for tool-free wheelchairs that are easier for patients and therapists to transport, use and adjust.

Reason to Buy:
By choosing a Medline chair, you?ll get the strongest, most durable and reliable manual chair on the market at a competitive price. And importantly, you?ll be able to get it when you need it. Medline has more stocking locations than any other manufacturer or distributor in the marketplace.

Bragging Rights: Hybrid Design!
Manual Chair: AirLite Pro
Jim Black, product manager
(888) 682-2571

What's Your Best Feature?
The AirLite Pro is a hybrid design that competes with both ends of the ultralightweight rigid chair spectrum. When specified with standard options only, it competes in the aluminum frame market in weight and cost. When configured with high performance options that utilize carbon fiber and titanium, the weight is significantly reduced, making it competitive to titanium products with a cost similar, but more often than not less than, that of titanium products.

New For '06:
Pediatrics. Kuschall has a history of having had one of the most popular pediatric rigid chairs available. We get asked about it all the time. Currently, this market segment lacks products for the very active kids requiring minimal seating intervention that want to keep pace with their peers. We are launching the K-Series (Kids) product line that includes the AirLite Pro II, an ultralightweight rigid frame, and the Compact II, an ultralightweight folding frame, both with a growth program that is attractive to parents, therapists and RTS?s.

Latest Trend:
Technology, like in any other market, drives design that changes the status quo. Recognizing this is what makes Kuschall so innovative and that is what sets us apart from the status quo. Everyone wants the latest technology: the strongest yet lightest frames that fit perfectly yet adjust to meet unforeseen changes and the most rigid, high performance ride that is effortless to maneuver. That is what Kuschall is all about — thinking outside of the box to drive the future of manual mobility.

Reason to Buy:
The 2006 AirLite Pro is designed to be driven in and out of the car. A lot of thought went into the redesign. The focus was not solely on performance when driven, but simplicity when loading in and out of a vehicle. It is a cleaner design that weighs 1 lb. less than the previous model. The clothing guards fold in and down with the backrest so they don?t fall off. The backrest locks into place so it becomes a handle to lift the frame. The tipper stand, which can be activated by the driver, is like a jack that supports the frame to keep it up and off the ground, protecting it and making it easier to reach, lift and stow.

If you done it, it ain't bragging. --Walt Whitman

Bragging Rights: Compact and Portable!
Lifestyle Mobility Aids
Manual Chair: Lite 'N Easy Travel
Darrin Horst, president
(877) 843-6464

What's Your Best Feature?
Its portability! No other chairs fold as compactly as ours. Also it only weights 16 lbs.

New For '06:
We have also changed the way brakes work for rollators and wheelchairs. I have patents pending on a HUB brake system that allows the end-user a much safer braking system — no more levers touching the tires; no more slipping. We believe the SAF-T-LOCK system will revolutionize the industry. With the SAF-T-Lock system, the brakes adjust to the user's strength and the wheels lock completely.

Latest Trend:
The only trend I see is the need for lightweight products. This is why we developed the Lite 'N Easy Travel chair. I also believe that our new HUB braking system will change the face of the manual wheelchair market since people are always looking for safer products.

Reason to Buy:
That's simple: light weight, quality, safety and warranty!

Bragging Rights: Intelligent Construction!
Drive Medical Design and Manufacturing
Manual Chair: Sentra EC
Tris Anne Gasparini
(877) 224-0946

What's Your Best Feature?
The Drive selection of manual chairs are both user and dealer friendly. Each chair has been thoughtfully designed, making assembly, use and repair easy and convenient.

New For '06:
Products that are easy and convenient for active users.

Latest Trend:
The latest trend is to satisfy the needs of the "graying Americans." With the infusion of modern ideas from the Michael Graves design team, Drive is focusing on capturing this emerging sophisticated and savvy consumer.

Reason to Buy:
Drive offers the whole package to our customer with value added.

Bragging Rights: Redefines Style and Performance!
Invacare Corp.
Manual Chair: ProSPIN X4
Aaron M. Henry, associate product manager, custom manual wheelchairs

(800) 333-6900

What's Your Best Feature?
The ProSPIN™ X4™ is the next evolution in performance wheelchairs; it simply redefines how a wheelchair should look and perform. Aesthetically unmatched, the X4 is specifically designed from the ground up around the needs of the intended user.

New For '06:
2006 will feature many new enhancements for the ProSPIN X4, including a heavy-duty option and a fixed front frame version. Also, many more new options and accessories for the entire Invacare custom manual product line will be available throughout 2006.

Latest Trend:
Results of a recent Invacare survey of more than 1,000 respondents show that the average manual wheelchair user expects his or her next wheelchair to provide solid everyday durability and also be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Now, the typical user is not simply satisfied with a chair that provides mobility. They want mobility with flare!

Reason to Buy:
The X4 is lightweight, intelligently priced in this tough reimbursement environment and looks like no other wheelchair on the planet. The ProSPIN X4 satisfies without compromise. Everything else is an antique!

Bragging Rights: Adjustability!
Colours Wheelchair
Manual Chair: Krypto Adult
John Gunnar Box, president
(800) 892-8998

What's Your Best Feature?
More adjustability.

New For '06:
Tilt N Space wheelchair.

Latest Trend:
Smaller, lighter and more attractive chairs seem to be emerging for the wheelchair market.

Reason to Buy:
Colours takes great pride in producing, servicing and being the first most innovative wheelchair company. We go far beyond the competition in all areas serving the disabled. And most of Colours chairs can be custom made for the individual.

Bragging Rights: Higher Standards!
Merits Health Products Inc.
Manual Chair: L200
Todd Aiazzone, director of marketing & new product development
(800) 963-7487

What's Your Best Feature?
The L200 Deluxe comes with many standard features that others call options, including height-adjustable arms, adjustable back angle, a standard seat cushion, a stabilizer bar and a quick-release rear wheels.

New For '06:
We will be adding new accessories for manual wheelchairs during 2006. We have already added an oxygen tank holder, a carry-all tote and gel cushions.

Reason to Buy:
We carry a limited lifetime frame warranty, and we have been manufacturing manual wheelchairs since 1986. We manufacture different manual wheelchair lines for the United States, Europe and Asia.

Bragging Rights: Choice of Three Configurations!
Reha Partner Inc.
Manual Chair: Merlino
Detlef Draeger, president and co-founder
(866) 282-4558

What's Your Best Feature?
Our Merlino offers three different stroller configurations from which to choose: City, Tour and Jogger. The City has swivel wheels for tight cornering around the house, at school, in the mall and general day-to-day activities. The Tour features larger wheels that roll easily on uneven, unpaved surfaces — perfect for a cookout in the park and walks around the lake. The Jogger is designed for fast moving, so a parent and child can experience walking, jogging or running together. Our seat is removable and can be used forward facing or caregiver facing. Tilt, recline and the ability to fold are all standard features on the Merlino seat.

Reason to Buy:
The Merlino is a versatile stroller that is strong, lightweight and very user friendly. It gives families choices for the positioning and transporting needs of their child.

Bragging Rights: Orthoses-like Customization!
Manual Chair: TR
Josh Anderson, vice president of marketing
(800) 545-2266

What's Your Best Feature?
TiLite evolved from the simple idea of developing manual wheelchairs that would combine orthoses-like customization with the most advanced materials. Attributes would help users remain independent longer, experience reduced body stress and incur fewer posture-related problems.

New For '06:
TiLite is always working to advance manual wheelchair mobility whether it is developing state-of-the-art frame designs or the latest in component technology. We have several new chairs scheduled for release in mid 2006; all of them feature TiLite's legendary customization, quality, performance and style.

Latest Trend:
Funding. It is not necessarily a current trend but it is certainly a topic that is front and center for 2006. At TiLite, we believe in building chairs for people not for codes. However, we also realize that without funding you're not going to build anything for long. With millions or billions of possible frame combinations, the TiLite wheelchairs are the most highly customized manual wheelchairs available! In recognition of this superior customization, the SADMERC has officially code-verified the TiLite ZR, ZRA, TR, YR and XC wheelchairs as K0009 (for adult-sized chairs) and E1229 (for pediatric-sized chairs). With better reimbursement, more wheelchair users will now have access to TiLite and the best mobility.

Reason to Buy:
Performance, function, durability and style. At TiLite, quality is our culture. Conceived out of the pursuit of perfection, engineered to be state-of-the-art, designed with attention to detail, built from only the highest quality materials and finished with genuine care, TiLite wheelchairs are held to a rigorous standard of quality control at every step. The results are impressive — wheelchairs that improve the users performance, function and style. The appeal of quality is universal, and quality is the appeal of TiLite.

Bragging Rights: Comfort and Adaptability!
Quantum Rehab
Manual Chair: Stylus
Mark E. Smith, mobility project manager
(800) 800-8586

What's Your Best Feature?
The Stylus lightweight manual wheelchair sets the standard for comfort and adaptability. Quick-release axles, tension-adjustable upholstery and deluxe wheel locks are all standard, and a range of rear wheel and caster sizes are available to tailor the Stylus to individual needs.

Latest Trend:
In an ever-changing funding market, clients who used to qualify for an ultralightweight manual wheelchair are sometimes being placed in lightweight products. As such, there is a need for full-featured lightweight-class manual wheelchairs to fill the gap.

Reason to Buy:
With Stylus, quality, comfort and adaptability are key as is delivering reliable, configurable products that will serve providers and clients for years to come.

Bragging Rights: Quality and Value!
Adepta Medical
Manual Chair: Lightweight Wheelchair
Deb Edgecombe, senior product manager
(866) 6ADEPTA

What's Your Best Feature?
The combination of features allows the user to be comfortable in many situations. The Adepta chair is built to last with quality materials and exceptional design.

Latest Trend:
The growth of the bariatric market is facilitating changes in manual chair design.

Reason to Buy:
Quality and Value!

Bragging Rights: Shifting Ratios!
Magic Wheels Inc.
Manual Chair: Magic Wheels
Bill Bryant, director of engineering
(866) 624-4294

What's Your Best Feature?
We have two speeds. One is just like a regular set of wheels with 1:1 ratio, and then you can shift them down to have a 2:1 advantage. The wheels also have a hill holder so you don't roll backward on hills. The hill holder easily overrides when you pull the handrims backward; so, you can go back down a hill if you have to. We're also doing a clinical study at the University of Maryland and they have nine out of 10 subjects that have reduced their shoulder pain by using the wheels.

Reason to Buy:
Two reasons: if you're having difficulty with ramps or obstacles and also if you are adventurous and want to have more capability to go places.

Bragging Rights: Freedom to Move!
Hot Shot Products
Manual Chair: Quick Change Beach Wheel System
Hank Wesemanm, president
(888) 663-5911

What's Your Best Feature?
The Quick Change Beach Wheel System allows wheelchair or stroller users to quickly turn their own chair into beaches, parks and campgrounds; it's an accessible chair/stroller.

Reason to Buy:
To have more freedom — no more being left out.

Bragging Rights: Transitions!
PlainSense Wheelchairs Inc.
Manual Chair: The BUG-OiS
Jim Papac, owner
(770) 632-1744

What's Your Best Feature?
The only manual wheelchair in the world with a detachable upper assembly that transitions from a stroller to front-wheel and rear-wheel drive with no costs or modifications. It is also a very propelable tilt-in-space wheelchair!

Reason to Buy:
The OiS mobility base appeals to mothers because of its non-clinical appearance. Moms also like the PSW OiS device because it is very transportable as the upper assembly quickly detaches from the mobility base. The OiS mobility base appeals to dealers and therapists because of the prospect of independent movement as the child becomes able. It can become a self-propelable, front- or rear-wheel drive, tilt-in-space wheelchair. Seats and backs are mounted without the need for mounting hardware (a cost savings). A nice value-added feature is that the upper assembly can be moved to our "dock" mount on a power wheelchair base. We are the only company to offer these features.

There is a difference between conceit and confidence. Conceit is bragging about yourself. Confidence means you believe you can get the job done. --Johnny Unitas

Bragging Rights: More Choices!
Sunrise Medical
Manual Chair: Quickie GTX
Brent Hatch, senior product manager, manual mobility products
(800) 333-4000

What's Your Best Feature?
Building on the legendary Quickie portfolio, the Quickie GTX provides the same quality and reliability with innovative Quickie features such as a "cross-brace inside" design that allows this folder to ride like a rigid. The open frame design lets you see the person — not the chair. Additionally, the GTX ultra small folded package has the only fold-down back on the market for the freedom to go anywhere.

New For '06:
The new Quickie GTX, an ultralightweight manual folding chair, and other exciting surprises to come!

Latest Trend:
Most important advances in ultralightweight wheelchairs include the movement toward ultralight materials, frame designs (open "L" frame), power-assist options (Xtender) and a plethora of lifestyle options (lighted casters, suspension, quick-release wheels).

Reason to Buy:
To have the freedom to live life to the fullest with the confidence to have the best in performance, style and innovation. Roll with the Leader!

This article originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of HME Business.

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