Doug Abbey has never let his mobility issues slow him down. A quadriplegic as a result of two separate car accidents, Doug is fearlessly determined to experience his favourite things in life such as the company of family and friends, and British Columbia’s beautiful natural vistas.
In his mid-50s with three children and two grandchildren, Doug’s get-out-there spirit has taken him camping and exploring, boating and even waterskiing. He also walks his dog three to four times daily, an activity that refreshes him in body and mind.
Doug appreciates that his home medical equipment plays an important role in his life. “Without it, I’d be in a bad place,” he concedes. To keep the good vibes flowing, it’s essential that Doug’s motorized wheelchair doesn’t just help get him from A to B but works and feels like a natural extension of his body and perfectly suits his unique lifestyle.
Kootenay Columbia Home Medical has enjoyed working with Doug for the past 20 years and recently equipped him with his third Amylior Alltrack R3 power wheelchair. Features built into Doug’s new chair include power seat tilt, high-speed motors, heavy-duty leg rests, a Plush single-pad headrest system, a Vicair seat cushion and a custom-manufactured quadriplegic thumb-loop swing-away joystick mount.
“Our experience with long-term clients like Doug is that they like what they already have and generally want the same equipment with a few new modifications or added features,” says David Stokes, owner of Kootenay Columbia Home Medical.
The issue is that manufacturers are always changing and reconfiguring their equipment to keep pace with the latest medical and technological innovations, so the same chair is never the same chair. New equipment also has that new, unworn feel to it, while users honestly prefer it to feel and perform like a comfy old sweater. It’s a delicate balance; a tightrope that Kootenay Columbia Home Medical walks carefully to achieve client satisfaction.
On the morning that Doug received his new wheelchair, David and a service technician, Randy, visited Doug’s home and spent 90 minutes adjusting the new chair to closely match the seating geometry of his old chair. Once Doug was in the chair, David and Randy spent another two hours making minor modifications to ensure a perfect fit.
One of the adjustments was to mount an electronic catheter-release to the footplate of his chair with a switch in the armrest so Doug could activate the catheter system independently. As a final touch, David and Randy installed a custom joystick knob carved by Doug’s father made from a bright yellow faller’s wedge – the perfect accessory for a power chair in the Kootenays.
Kootenay Columbia Home Medical also supplied Doug with a custom 3D-printed backrest by Ride Designs, a local complex rehabilitation supplier. This is the first home medical supply we are aware of that is being mass-produced to custom specifications thanks to 3D printing technology.
Perhaps the most challenging fitting, however, was making sure Doug’s new chair could fit into his adapted Ford Econoline van. The vehicle has been specially outfitted with an airbag system that drops Doug into the driver’s seat, and the chair needs to fit perfectly on the platform with Doug in the correct seating position for him to drive his hand-control-equipped van. Even more complicated, the underside of Doug’s chair is fitted with an EZ Lock electronic docking pin, providing Doug the independence to lock his wheelchair into his driving position without assistance from others. It took time, trial and effort, but the chair now fits perfectly, and Doug is free to go camping, exploring and waterskiing at will.
“My support network is just as important as the equipment,” Doug enthuses. “It’s a team effort. There’s a lot of problem-solving involved and your mind is your only limitation. My family and friends have been amazing at helping me build things to make life easier, and David and his team are very attentive; I can call them up anytime and they’re here ASAP even though I live about an hour and a half away.”
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.