Blake Knull was introduced to Kootenay Columbia Home Medical by Veterans Affairs Canada in 2012 and we have been a healthy part of Blake’s life ever since. Blake originally served for the Canadian Military from 2002-2006 in Afghanistan when he was injured overseas and honourably discharged. He subsequently came back home to Cranbrook, British Columbia, and worked at a local Speedy Glass before suffering a stroke which unfortunately, combined with the injuries he suffered while serving, left him with paralysis on his left side.
Over the years, Kootenay Columbia Home Medical has equipped Blake with four manual wheelchairs and two power wheelchairs, all custom-selected and specially configured to meet Blake’s unique requirements – and given that he is 6’5”, there is certainly a lot of customization required to ensure Blake can get around and enjoy his everyday life comfortably.
“My wheelchairs have made a huge difference, letting me explore my passions and purpose uninhibitedly,” Blake says. “I couldn’t get around the house without the manual chair and I couldn’t get around Cranbrook without my power chair.”
Blake’s vibrant pink Permobil TiLite TRA manual wheelchair adds a ray of sunshine to his life at home, where he prefers to use this device. “I like bright colours,” Blake enthuses. “He’s a very big fan of the ’80s – the music, the fashion and the colours,” elaborates Blake’s wife, Kyla Knull. “From his bright orange Chip & Pepper shirt to his neon green Nike shoes and his fluorescent pink chair, he really embodies that nostalgic ’80s feeling.”
Beyond its pink exterior, Blake’s manual chair features a lightweight yet durable titanium dual-tube construction to help comfortably support Blake’s 300 lb. frame, and includes a flip-up footplate that enables Blake to use his right leg and foot to help navigate around.
The rigid-frame TiLite includes extensive customization features to reflect Blake’s unique mobility needs and desires. Specifically, Blake prefers to self-propel in his manual chair as much as possible. “Something as simple as the ease of being self-propelled in a wheelchair makes Blake’s daily life easier,” adds Kyla. “It’s truly had a positive impact on his overall mood and made a difference between whether he will have a positive day or a frustrating one.”
This customization has made it so much easier for Blake to propel with one foot and one hand. The foot space at the front of his chair is wider to provide extra space to propel with his right foot while supporting his left foot. Additionally, TiLite installed an extra bar behind the footrests to strengthen the chair (in the absence of a footplate).
“TiLite is a great manufacturer to work with for customized rigid wheelchair options,” offers David Stokes, owner of Kootenay Columbia Home Medical. “They have a Creative Mobility Division for all things custom, a catalogue of common options, and they even design unique one-offs. If we can think it, odds are that TiLite can design and build it.”
When Blake ventures out of the house, he switches gears and uses his Amylior Alltrack R3 power wheelchair which, while not available in bright pink, is a close neighbour on the colour wheel sporting a sophisticated dark maroon. Blake’s Amylior features a hybrid wheel drive which is perfectly suited to the East Kootenays, combining the exceptional outdoor performance, speed and comfort traditionally associated with a real-wheel drive and the pinpoint manoeuvrability offered by a mid-wheel drive.
Using the power wheelchair when out on the town simply makes life easier, especially when shopping or going out for lunch. An integrated headlight package also offers increased visibility during the darkness of fall and winter, extending out-of-home opportunities for adventure during early mornings and late evenings.
Over our decade-long relationship with Blake, we’ve collaborated with him both in our Cranbrook location and in his home. “It’s been fantastic to have service calls both in their office and in our home,” enthuses Kyla. “Their flexibility has allowed us to explore how the equipment will function in the real world versus on the showroom floor.
“Having that one-on-one time to set things up and test them out has ensured Blake gets into the right equipment the first time,” Kyla continues. “Those times Kootenay Columbia Home Medical has come to our home to dedicate themselves to understanding Blake’s needs have helped him get into equipment that has been custom-created for his exact measurements and usage. Plus, their recommendations have been savvy enough to ensure the aesthetics in our home do not become institutional in nature and actually reflect our preferences.”
One of Blake’s greatest joys is his custom 2021 Jeep Gladiator with a rear box to help transport his power Amylior. “I’ve always been big on Jeeps,” Blake offers, “and once I put a crane on the back of the Gladiator, everything clicked.” Another of Blake’s life pleasures is getting out on his side-by-side and exploring Cranbrook’s spectacular outdoor vistas.
Life has had its share of hurdles for Blake but now that he has greater accessibility to all the things he enjoys in life, he’s in a good place. For anyone who has recently experienced a mobility issue, Blake advises to “take time and give it time and it will get better.” Blake is living proof that with patience, perseverance and power, you can reach your goals.
Are you looking for a customized approach to home medical equipment in the East and West Kootenays? Or do you have a patient story you’d like to share from your experience with Kootenay Columbia Home Medical? We’d love to hear from you – contact us now.