Author Archives: Graham - Site Admin

About Graham - Site Admin

Quadriplegic Founder and Admin of the Mad Spaz Club. Spinal Cord Injury Keynote Speaker and WRD Ambassador. I like meeting wheelchair users and sitting in the sun at the beach. Why did I create and keep this website running? The simple answer is I like to help people. To give voice to those unable to speak. As an advocate and keynote speaker for spinal cord injury awareness I am not afraid to discuss tough and controversial subjects. I have become a better man for listening to you the Mad Spaz Club members, and I thankyou one and all. So willing to bare your soul and share your precious thoughts many of you have touched me deeply. I have cried and laughed along with you, it has been humbling, empowering, and will always be my honor. To all the valued members of the Mad Spaz Club I look forward to learning more about you all for many years to come, sharing with open hearts our experiences through the freedom of speech empowering us and making all our lives meaningful positive and the richer.

wheelchair Socks

Wheelchair Socks

Today, Dr. Eugene Emmer, owner of RehaDesign Wheelchair Accessories announced the launch of ‘Wheelchair Socks’ an innovative cover for wheelchair casters, the small front wheels on wheelchairs. The launch of Wheelchair Socks comes after years of requests from wheelchair users.

RehaDesign offers three types of wheelchair tire covers for manual wheelchairs. Wheelchair Slippers cover the big rear wheels. Mud Eaters also cover the rear wheels but are made from water resistant neoprene. The new product, Wheelchair Socks are the first covers designed for the small front casters.

Wheelchair Socks

Wheelchair Socks and Slippers

Wheelchair Socks and Slippers

Dr. Emmer said: “For a decade we have sold RehaDesign Wheelchair Slipper covers for rear wheelchair tires. Wheelchair users have told us that they appreciate that Wheelchair Slippers help to keep their floors clean from dirt and free from black tire marks. But for many years wheelchair users have demanded a solution for the front casters too. Until now, we have always given the disappointing answer that it was impossible to cover casters due to the way the caster is mounted on the wheelchair”.

Dr Emmer explained, “Last year after receiving an angry email from a disappointed customer who could not see the point of covering the back wheels and leaving the front wheels uncovered, I had a Eureka moment. In the middle of the night, I woke up and traced out a pattern for a new design. After a few modifications to the new design, ‘Wheelchair Socks’ were born. Wheelchair Socks require more precise and elaborate cutting and final sewing than Wheelchair Slippers do because they must fit the casters precisely. But like Wheelchair Slippers they solve the annoying problem that all wheelchair users have – they help keep floors and carpets clean and protected from damage. The impossible is now possible.”

Wheelchair Socks

Wheelchair Socks

Wheelchair Socks

When asked about the names “Wheelchair Slippers” and “Wheelchair Socks”, Dr Emmer explained: When able bodied people come home, many put on slippers or take off their shoes and wear socks in order to prevent tracking outside dirt and germs throughout the house. Now wheelchair users can use their Wheelchair Slippers and Wheelchair Socks in order to keep prevent tracking dirt and germs throughout the house. In addition, Wheelchair Socks and Wheelchair Slippers will help prevent damage and tire marks to floors and carpets.

Like Wheelchair Slippers, Wheelchair Socks feature a special fabric with a lining that grips to the wheels to prevent slippage. The new specially designed closure makes it possible for wheelchair users to quickly cover the caster wheels while sitting inside or outside of the wheelchair. Like Wheelchair Slippers, Wheelchair Socks are machine washable. Wheelchair Socks’ unique design is pending patent approval in the USA and is now being submitted in several other countries.

About RehaDesign Wheelchair Accessories

RehaDesign is an innovative brand of wheelchair accessories, designed in Europe but distributed worldwide via the www.RehaDesign.com website, Amazon and via a network of independent dealers. Wheelchair dealers interested in joining the RehaDesign network are encouraged to contact Dr. Emmer for more information.

Resources

3D Wheelchair Art Modeling

3D Wheelchair Model Animation

Creating 3D wheelchair model animation is easy with so many user friendly programs available these days. You no longer need a degree in kinetics to easily create realistic animations. I explained how to set up some simple 3D wheelchair models previously using free 3D software Daz3D. Now here are a few 3D wheelchair model animations I put together. One of the options in the Daz3D 4.6 free version is export as an AVI movie. I then simply rip to GIF format to be cross browser friendly and post here.

The 3D wheelchair model animation below is a short endless loop of 50 frames. Our female model Susan in sports gear is walking beside our male model Michael in a Flex wheelchair on a warm sunny day.

3D Wheelchair Model Animation Walking

3D Wheelchair Model Animation

This second 3D wheelchair model animation is sexy Susan in a bikini on roller blades pushing a shirtless Michael in his Flex wheelchair. This one is an 80 frame loop. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make it look most realistic, like Susan’s hair blowing, and Michael’s head bob on each push. Did I over do her boobs lol? The scene in the background is a single image making the rendering process (saving as video) faster.

3D Wheelchair Animation Roller Blades

Wheelchair Model Animation of sexy bikini girl jiggle on roller blades pushing guy in flex wheelchair

Once you get the basic movement right there are many easy to apply options; skin color, hair type, clothing, body type, muscle size, plus lighting effects, endless camera angles, and so on that all conform or magnetize to your base 3D wheelchair model animation. I created the above short animation simply by making a few changes to the first countryside one.

3D Wheelchair Animation

Bookmark this page and have a go at making your own 3D wheelchair animation. I’m here to help and happy to post any of your creative works on a page of your own.

Mad Spaz Club copyright wheelchair icon

Website Help and Updates

Mad Spaz Club wheelchair welcome icon copyright streetsie.comWelcome to the Mad Spaz Club website where all the cool wheelchair people hang out. Please report bugs, make feature requests, post complaints and general feedback in the comment section below. We are constantly improving the Mad Spaz Club website to make your visit a safe enjoyable one. Simply register an account to access all our features.

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11 February 2014 Extra Chat Features and Author Pages

We have made adjustments to our live chat to reward our loyal members including; online user list country flags, message window refreshes every 3 seconds (was 4), 500 characters per message max (was 400), anyone with contributor status (has written an article for us) can access moderation tools and initiate private chat windows, and we un-banned several words eg. viagra sex vagina ejaculation. We do allow discussions about sex as long as it is not offending anyone. You can now also read more about an article author by clicking on their name at the end of an article.

8 September 2013 Chat and Gallery Upgrades

Has it really been a year? We have made many improvements site-wide and helped hundreds if not thousands of people living with spinal cord injury. Major upgrades were recently made to our Live Chat feature after a conflict arose with the gallery. The gallery problem is an external scripting one out of our control so we are seeking a new gallery solution. A big thank-you to all our supporters and helpful members assistance over the last twelve months. I will try to post more updates here before another year passes us by.

12 Sept 2012 Amended Registration Agreement

Added “Wheelchair Dating” and “Artworks” forums, opened quick reply feature, upgraded versions and made minor layout adjustments. Amended registration agreement to include; “POST SOMETHING. The more you post the more access and privileges you are given. Members with 0 posts are given a rank of “Voyeur, one who spies on another’s private moments.” As we respect and protect our active members privacy, members with 0 posts are often deleted. To avoid this please make a post.”

11 June 2012 Forum Upgrades

Our forum has been updated to the latest stable version. We also added new avatars, a disability field to profiles, and enabled a “quick reply” feature on all posts. The disability chat room refresh rate has been bumped from 6 to 7 seconds to reduce server load and make it more stable when busy.

13 Mar 2012 Theme Updated

75% of people viewing our website use Internet Explorer. Updating our theme to display correctly in IE and the top 5 browsers is a never ending process. We rolled out several cross-browser fixes bringing our theme upto date today. Let us know if you have any problems viewing our website.

1 Oct 2011 Memberships Increase

600 images were added to our galleries during september. We wish to extend a warm thankyou to all who uploaded and the regulars who assisted new members and visitors during Graham’s absence. We’ve seen memberships steadily increase on our forum. The live chat area has been busy and our most prolific member there Deb has been promoted to a chat Admin. We greatly value all our members and appreciate your continued support.

27 Aug 2011 Article Submission Form Added

Website updates this month saw our article submission form go live to the public. I hope by making it easy, it will prove popular, as I love to read all your stories and experiences. Adding a math quiz to our member registration form cut down spam allowing me more time to work on Mad Spaz Club articles. While there have been several background improvements made the only other noteworthy mention is that over 300 images were added to our image galleries this month. Thank-you all for your continued support.

6 July 2011 JPG Image Upload on C omment Form

We have added the optional ability to upload an image along with your comment. We hope this enhancement makes it easier to share photos and interact with your fellow members here at the Mad Spaz Club.

20 June 2011 Upgraded Gallery Features

Thank-you to all our members who submitted photos to our galleries this month. Nearly 300 images in total. In appreciation we have added new features allowing you greater control over descriptions and how images are displayed. Any registered member can create a gallery and upload images, here’s a step-by-step how to.

  1. In your profile> Gallery> Add Gallery/Images
  2. Click “Add new gallery” tab
  3. Type in your gallery name
  4. Click “Add Gallery” button
  5. Click “Upload Images” tab
  6. Select your gallery name from the “chose galley” drop down
  7. “Browse” to and add your images, you’ll see them listed below the Browse box
  8. When you’re ready click “Upload images” give it time to process and create thumbnails
  9. Then you can add descriptions, alt and title tags, adjust your thumbnails etc.

1 June 2011 New Comment Notification Design

Our exciting new HTML comment notification design was launched today. Simplistic and sleek, if you comment on our website and leave the “Notify me of new comments on this page” box checked you will receive a visually stunning thank-you email notice on your first-time comment and an email notification everytime a new comment is posted on the page you are subscribed to. All MSC notification email includes links to opt-in/out of our services. We hope you enjoy this improvement.

1 May 2011 Reinstated Disability Forums

A flashback to the heady days when websites were built around forums. We get quite a few requests for forums and so after an extensive overhaul the forums we began in 2003 are back with retro flair. Some images and SP posts were not retrievable and we are working on bringing it into line with our one login for all website features policy but it’s up and running with a new “Personals” section so register and post your profiles.

29 Mar 2011 Bluce Ice Theme New Default

We will be rolling out our Blue Ice theme this week. Those resistant to change will still be able to revert to our Ruby theme with our theme switcher for a limited time. Blue Ice is the new default theme. Why? Features; Less clutter to find what you’re looking for faster. Quicker loading pages. Lightweight sub pages. Upgraded security. Easy to read fonts. Footer includes hot topic lists and quick contact form.

4 Mar 2011 Building Blue Ice Website Theme

We are developing a new black blue and white disability friendly theme with simplicity in mind. Soon you can find what you are looking for faster. But you don’t have to cross your legs and wait, use our Theme Switcher and check Blue Ice out now! Be sure to tell us what you think.

28 Feb 2011 Visit Our New Live Chat Area

We promote disability adventure and publish personal stories from wheelchair users and other people living with and caring for people with disabilities. We share knowledge and experience providing information and support to those impacted by spinal cord injury and all that wheelchair life involves.

Get Published

Your story could bring comfort to many. We love to hear from wheelchair users and people living with paraplegia quadriplegia and spinal cord injury as equally from anyone who’s life has been impacted by disability. We want to publish your story, if you are willing to share your story tell us briefly in a comment or our live chat area and we will contact you.

Our Gallery

To upload pictures and share with us you must have a registered account. Your images will not appear until they are approved by an admin. You may also upload images in our forum once registered, these will appear immediately. Visit our live chat area to request an account or higher access to advanced features. Anyone found abusing fellow members or our services will be dealt with severely. We reserve the right to delete any account and services without notice.

Create Your Account

We have taken steps to block spammers but allow legitimate users to still register an account with us. If you have any problems registering simply post or comment here or drop by our new live chat area and we’ll do our best to help you. Admin’s can create accounts and answer any questions about uploading images and publishing articles.

We apologize for having to delete previously registered member accounts and any inconvenience that may have caused. We take your security very seriously and take any action we feel necessary to safe guard you and your privacy. No accounts were compromised, we only deleted previous member accounts as a precaution.

Contacting Us

Other than our live disability chat and comment areas we offer a contact form at the bottom of our home page. We encourage you to ask and be answered in article comment areas so others can read learn and offer answers. We make it easy to post a question, comment or have your story published. So get cracking, shake off that granny blanket and show the ability in disability.

Many people don’t realize a spinal cord injury not only affects the person living in a wheelchair, their immediate family friends and loved ones lives are also affected. Relatives, work colleagues, even your local doctor becomes involved in one way or another. Did you know one third of the population has or cares for someone with a disability.

Stop Forum Spam

Stop phpBB3 Forum Spam

I’m about to show you how to stop phpBB3 forum spam without using CAPTCHA, math equations, filters, 3rd party API or RBL databases, email ip or bad word lists. Yes we tried them all. While they have their purpose newly created spammer email accounts still get through.

Here I share with you a very simple yet effective industry insiders secret to stop phpBB3 forum spam user registrations using a custom profile field. It’s quite simple, no spam user registrations = no spam posts. So let’s get to it.

Within phpBB3 Administration Panel

Users And Groups> Custom profile fields> Type “antispam” in the field> Select “Numbers” from the dropdown box> Click the “Create new field” button.

Stop phpBB3 Forum Spam

Stop phpBB3 Forum Spam

Add profile field

Field type: Numbers
Field identification: antispam
Publicly display profile field: No

Visibility options

Display in user control panel: No
Display on registration screen: Yes
Display on viewtopic screen: No
Required field: Yes
Show field if no value was selected: No
Hide profile field: Yes

Language specific options

Field name/title presented to user: Confirmation
Field Description: This box must contain the number 4 only

Click: Profile type specific options

Length of input box: 4
Lowest allowed number: 4
Highest allowed number: 4
Default value: 4321

Want to see it in action? http://www.streetsie.com/forum/ucp.php?mode=register

You may find after updating your phpBB3 version some spam gets through. Simply repeat the above to create a new custom profile field using a different name and number then delete the old custom profile field. Enjoy all the free time you now have.

wheelchair provision 01

Policy and Planning for Wheelchair Provision

 
Policy and Planning to Implement Sustainable Wheelchair Provision 
concludes our five part series on wheelchair provision in less resourced settings brought to you with permission from the World Health Organisation. In this article we cover the following policy and planning guidelines;

  • present key activities for the planning and implementation of wheelchair provision
  • suggest strategies for costing and financing wheelchair provision
  • suggest links between wheelchair services and other sectors

Testimonial from a user in the Philippines

wheelchair provision 01Michelle lives on the rural island of Masbate, a remote area of the Philippines. She is 20 years old, and was born without legs and with on one arm. Unable to propel a standard wheelchair, Michelle has lived without one for most of her life. For mobility she has had to “walk” with one arm and her torso. In 2005, Michelle was referred by community workers to a wheelchair service operated by an international nongovernmental organization.

The service team saw that for a wheelchair to be useful to Michelle, it would need to be operable by one arm, be suitable for rough surfaces, and be easily portable on public transport for travel into town. A local wheelchair factory that operates in partnership with the wheelchair service team was able to create a wheelchair to these specifications.

Michelle is now able to propel herself in her wheelchair, and no longer has to move herself along at ground level. She uses the wheelchair to attend church, make social visits and play basketball. Most importantly, Michelle, who has a keen entrepreneurial spirit, aims to improve the economic well-being of her family. With improved mobility, her opportunities for this are greater.

5.0 Purpose and Outputs

The purpose of the policy and planning guidelines is to develop and implement policies for cost effective and sustainable wheelchair provision. Implementation of these guidelines will lead to:

  • develop a national wheelchair policy
  • plan wheelchair provision programs at national level in collaboration with all stakeholders, based on identified needs
  • integrate wheelchair services into existing health and rehabilitation services
  • develop national standards for wheelchair provision
  • calculate costs and establish sources of funding
  • link wheelchair provision with existing sectors and institutions in society

Stakeholders and Resources

Stakeholders involved in policy and planning include policy-makers, planners and implementers, manufacturers and suppliers of wheelchairs, providers of wheelchair services, disabled people’s organizations and users.

5.2 Policy

Developing a Policy

A national policy on wheelchair provision can ensure that users receive wheelchairs that meet minimum requirements for safety, strength and durability and that are appropriate for their individual needs. A national policy can also ensure that wheelchairs are provided by trained personnel who know how to properly assess users’ needs and how to train users and caregivers on how to use and care for the wheelchairs.

When developing a national policy it is recommended that the following relevant areas are considered; 

  • issues addressed by relevant international policies
  • design, supply, service delivery, training and user involvement
  • funding
  • links with other sectors

To avoid a separate policy for wheelchair provision, wheelchairs can be included in a general policy for provision of assistive devices. However, specific issues related to wheelchair provision may need to be addressed in additional policy documents.

International Policies

The two main international policy instruments related to wheelchair provision are: 

  • the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and
  • the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

The Convention

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities consists of 50 articles. Articles 4, 20, 26 and 32 are particularly applicable to wheelchair provision as follows;

Article 4. General obligations

1. States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability. To this end, States Parties undertake:

(a) To adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention;

(g) To undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the availability and use of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities, giving priority to technologies at an affordable cost;

(h) To provide accessible information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support services and facilities;

(i) To promote the training of professionals and personnel working with persons with disabilities in the rights recognized in this Convention so as to better provide the assistance and services guaranteed by those rights.

Article 20. Personal mobility

States Parties shall take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by:

(a) Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost;

(b) Facilitating access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost;

(c) Providing training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist personnel working with persons with disabilities;

(d) Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities.

Article 26. Habilitation and rehabilitation

3. States Parties shall promote the availability, knowledge and use of assistive devices and technologies, designed for persons with disabilities, as they relate to habilitation and rehabilitation.

Article 32. International cooperation

1. States Parties recognize the importance of international cooperation and its promotion, in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the present Convention, and will undertake appropriate and effective measures in this regard, between and among States and, as appropriate, in partnership with relevant international and regional organizations and civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities. Such measures could include, inter alia:

(b) Facilitating and supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programs and best practices;

(d) Providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.

The Standard Rules

The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities consists of 22 rules. With regard to preconditions for equal participation, Rules 3 and 4 apply to wheelchair provision. With regard to implementation measures, Rules 14, 19 and 20 are applicable.

Rule 3. Rehabilitation

“States should ensure the provision of rehabilitation services to people with disabilities in order for them to reach and sustain their optimum level of independence and functioning.”

Rule 4. Support services

“States should ensure the development and supply of support services, including assistive devices for people with disabilities, to assist them to increase their level of independence in their daily living and to exercise their rights.”

Rule 14. Policy-making and planning

“States will ensure that disability aspects are included in all relevant policy-making and national planning.”

Rule 19. Staff training

“States are responsible for ensuring the adequate training of personnel, at all levels, involved in the planning and provision of programs and services concerning people with disabilities.”

Rule 20. Monitoring and evaluation

“States are responsible for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of national programs and services concerning the equalization of opportunities for people with disabilities.”

Both the Convention and the Standard Rules clearly state that the government has the primary responsibility for wheelchair provision. It is therefore recommended that wheelchair provision be an integral part of national strategies.

Article 32. International cooperation

1. States Parties recognize the importance of international cooperation and its promotion, in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the present Convention, and will undertake appropriate and effective measures in this regard, between and among States and, as appropriate, in partnership with relevant international and regional organizations and civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities. Such measures could include, inter alia:

(b) Facilitating and supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programs and best practices.

(d) Providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.

Specific wheelchair provision issues

There are five areas to be considered when developing a policy for basic wheelchair provision.

1. Design: Each person has a unique set of individual or environmental needs that dictate the wheelchair design that is best for him or her. Because user needs are so diverse, no single wheelchair design will be appropriate for all users under all conditions. It is recommended that policies:

  • require that several types of wheelchair be made available to service providers to ensure that each user receives a wheelchair that meets his or her needs; and,
  • specify minimum national requirements to ensure that wheelchairs will be safe, durable and locally maintainable.

2. Production and supply: Wheelchairs can be produced and acquired in a number of ways. They should be tested for strength, durability and suitability for the context in which they will be used. Decisions will need to be made on how wheelchairs will be produced and acquired. It is recommended that policies:

  • approach the overall need for wheelchairs in relation to the funding available, the sustainability of supply over time, local economic development, and the impact on the local wheelchair provision infrastructure;
  • encourage assessment of wheelchairs against minimum guidelines;
  • encourage participation of users and service providers in the selection of wheelchairs; and,
  •  take into account other national policies on related issues, such as support of local production and local employment.

3. Service delivery: Providers of wheelchair services play an important role in liaising between the users and the wheelchair manufacturers. They can ensure that individual users are provided with an appropriate wheelchair. They provide education and training about the user’s needs, as well as ongoing support and referral to other services. It is recommended that policies:

  • promote user empowerment and choice;
  • require that wheelchairs be provided through a proper wheelchair service delivery system;
  • require that all wheelchair service providers follow recommended practices regarding of wheelchair availability, prescription, fitting, training of users and follow-up services; and,
  • require wheelchair service providers to demonstrate transparency, fair pricing, and monitoring and evaluation of their services.

4. Training: Training of all personnel involved in wheelchair provision ensures that service delivery can be maintained at a nationally accepted level. It is recommended that policies:

  • encourage that training be made available for all individuals directly associated with the development and implementation of wheelchair provision, including those involved in design, production, testing and service delivery.

5. Financing: Each of these four areas of basic wheelchair provision requires funding. Different funding strategies are described in Section 5.4. Typically, the costs of designing, producing and supplying a wheelchair, the delivery of wheelchair services and training of personnel are included in the price of the provided wheelchair, unless the costs are covered in other ways. It is recommended that policies:

  • specify funding mechanisms;
  • set eligibility criteria for funding;
  • specify the categories and standards of wheelchairs and services that are funded under the scheme; and
  • promote user empowerment and choice.

Other policy support mechanisim governments could consider

  • waiving import duties on raw materials used to build wheelchairs;
  • waiving import duties on wheelchairs if they are not available in the country;
  • supporting local nongovernmental and disabled people’s organizations that provide wheelchairs and related services through direct grants, or by facilitating relationships between local and international nongovernmental organizations, business communities and other stakeholders;
  • supporting private wheelchair manufacturing businesses through competitive tender offers, loans and training grants;
  • promoting the participation of users at every level of service planning and implementation;
  • removing architectural barriers to increased mobility, independence and participation, thus stimulating interest in, use of and demand for better wheelchairs; and
  • including wheelchair provision and allied issues (such as accessible environments and accessible transport) in other national policies.

Example of a policy in India related to wheelchair provision

In India, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act (2) was adopted in 1995 as a result of continual lobbying by disability activists and nongovernmental organizations. This lobbying involved extensive consultations with officials, protest marches and press conferences (3). Regarding wheelchairs, the Act states in Chapter VII: “The appropriate Governments shall by notification make schemes to provide aids and appliances to persons with disabilities.”

On the basis of this Act, the Indian Government introduced the Assistance to Disabled Persons of India scheme, under which people with a monthly income of less than US$ 160 can get a wheelchair free of charge. If the monthly income is between US$ 161 and US$ 250 the user has to pay 50% of the cost, and if the income is above US$ 250, the user has to pay the full cost of the wheelchair.

Example of a policy in Afghanistan related to wheelchair provision

In October 2003, the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled in Afghanistan published a Comprehensive National Disability Policy. The policy was “developed in collaborative manner by all stakeholders including primarily disabled people organizations and self help groups; disability NGOs both national and international; major line ministries including Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Women Affairs, and Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled (MMD); related UN agencies including UNOPS/CDAP, WHO, ILO, UNICEF, and UNHCR; National Constitution Commission; and President Office” (4). It is expected that the initial policy will lead to a more detailed and prioritized plan of action that needs to be developed in order to achieve the ultimate objectives of this policy. The policy goes on to state:

Provisions for people with physical disability for example, should include orthopedic rehabilitation centers; physiotherapy services; and orthopedic, assistive and mobility devices. These services should be close to a regional or provincial hospital with orthopedic surgical services so that the local population has easy access. They could be located ideally, in cities with medical teaching faculties such as in Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad. Future services should provide for an expansion in orthotics as this is underserved.

All patients have the right to receive devices. Devices should be well-made, well-fitting, of local materials whenever possible and repairable locally. Appropriate technology should be standardized throughout the country. A mechanism for national standardization should be created with relevant experts in collaboration with MOPH [the Ministry of Public Health].

5.3 Planning

There are six key activities in planning and implementing wheelchair provision.

1. Identifying the need for wheelchairs and services

Identifying the need for wheelchairs is necessary to determine the numbers of services and personnel required and where to locate services. Such assessments also provide information on user satisfaction with wheelchairs that are in use and may have been distributed with or without service provision. Statistics should include the number of users, prevalence of different health conditions, impairments and restrictions in participation, and the geographical location of these individuals. Collection of data can often be facilitated by collaborating with community-based rehabilitation programs and disabled people’s organizations. Where collection of data is not possible, the conservative estimate that 1% of the population will require wheelchairs can be used.

2. Planning wheelchair provision at national level

It is recommended that governments be actively engaged in the planning, establishment and continuing development of wheelchair services. Governments are advised to consider funding wheelchair services along with other rehabilitation services. Where government funding is already allocated to wheelchair provision, it is recommended that the services be assessed to determine whether they are being provided in accordance with the recommendations made in these guidelines.

3. Encouraging collaboration between governmental and nongovernmental service providers

Wherever possible, national and international nongovernmental organizations involved in wheelchair provision are encouraged to collaborate closely with relevant ministries and departments to assist in developing and implementing the national plan for wheelchair provision. A coordinated plan can help to make maximum use of resources and ensure that the appropriate services are accessible to those who need them.

4. Integrating wheelchair services into existing rehabilitation services

Wheelchair services will be enhanced by integrating them into other rehabilitation and health care services where possible. Integration helps to coordinate efforts among key stakeholders, make the best use of resources such as health centres and personnel, and facilitate strong referral and consulting networks. A good example is that of the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, where a multidisciplinary group of medical professionals have established a wheelchair committee to address issues related to production, service delivery, distribution and maintenance (6).

Referral networks are critical to the sustainability of wheelchair services, and help to ensure that the services are accessible to those who need them. Consulting networks and access to health care professionals such as physicians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and other specialists help to ensure that appropriate services and equipment are provided to users. This is particularly important for those with complex needs.

5. Adopting national standards of wheelchair provision

National authorities and providers of wheelchair services are urged to develop and adopt national standards. National standards need to address issues associated with the quality and testing of wheelchairs, personnel training and service delivery. These guidelines may serve as a starting point for developing standards. It is also recommended that monitoring and evaluation be carried out to ensure wheelchair services meet the established standards.

6. Empowering consumers

National governments and international development agencies can create and support an enabling environment. Users need to have the opportunity to choose the right product for themselves from among a variety of products. A good information package about these products, including possible sources of funding or subsidy, could be very useful for the user in making the right decision.

The best strategy for developing a national wheelchair provision programme will depend on the current state of wheelchair services in the country, the available resources and the needs the service has to meet. It is useful to consider the following questions when planning wheelchair provision.

  • What are the characteristics and specific needs of the user population?
  • Do stakeholder groups exist and, if so, what are their interests and opinions?
  • Do wheelchair services already exist (through local workshops, community-based rehabilitation, disabled people’s organizations, other nongovernmental organizations, the private sector or government)?
  • Is there any wheelchair provision outside the formal infrastructure, for example provision of mass imported wheelchairs?
  • What can be done with existing resources?
  • What are the current funding mechanisms?

Strategies for Developing a Wheelchair Provision Programme

  1. The government wants to establish a national wheelchair service programme. The government may contact interested nongovernmental and disabled people’s organizations, users, training  programs for health professionals, international organizations such as WHO and the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and relevant international nongovernmental organizations to help in developing an appropriate plan for a national wheelchair service. The government may look at its own prosthetic and orthotic services and use these as a basis for developing a wheelchair service. It may also contact government bodies in other countries to learn from their experience and seek advice.
     
  2. Wheelchair provision exists but on a small scale through independent organizations; there is no collaboration. The government, local organizations or an international nongovernmental organization could assess the possibility of scaling up the operation. A resource centre can be set up to involve people from the different organizations in a collaborative effort. The resource centre can then evolve into either a coalition of organizations interested in wheelchair services or an independent nongovernmental organization in its own right.
     
  3. There are organizations in the country but no wheelchair service delivery. An interested nongovernmental or disabled people’s organization can serve as the nucleus for a resource centre. The organization needs to identify an appropriate organization with wheelchair provision experience as a partner (e.g. a governmental or nongovernmental organization in a neighbouring country or an international nongovernmental organization) and should follow the other initial steps in scenario 4 below. Alternatively, this process may be started by an international nongovernmental organization, which then seeks out local nongovernmental and disabled people’s organizations as partners. Efforts should be made to identify and network with other countries or organizations that have had similar experience in initiating wheelchair services.
     
  4. There are no organizations in the country and no regular wheelchair service delivery. An international nongovernmental organization, either on its own initiative or at the invitation of or in partnership with the government, could establish a resource centre in the capital or other major city. The resource centre could be an integral part of an already existing rehabilitation institute. The resource centre should begin by providing important information to users, their families or caregivers and health professionals about mobility needs and wider issues pertaining to mobility. The international nongovernmental organization should develop a stakeholder analysis and survey people who use or require wheelchairs, in order to identify gaps and determine the need for wheelchairs and services. Preliminary participatory research will present options for meeting the needs. Funding should be secured to begin wheelchair provision. Efforts should be made to establish a working relationship between the resource centre and relevant governmental bodies as a first step in establishing a national wheelchair service.
     

5.4 Funding Stratagies

An important part of setting up a wheelchair service comprises costing and establishing sources of funding in order to ensure the financial sustainability of the service.

Costing

 The first step towards financial sustainability is the accurate calculation of the direct and indirect costs of wheelchair services. It is important that the cost of service delivery and the cost of the product are accounted for. Initial costs of setting up a wheelchair service should also be provided for but do not need to be included in the calculation of running costs. When estimating funds needed to establish and sustain wheelchair services, planners are advised to consider the total cost of wheelchair provision. The total cost is the sum of all direct and indirect costs.

Direct Costs

Product

  • Manufacturing cost or purchase price of wheelchair
  • Shipping and transportation of wheelchair

Initial Service

  • Personnel costs (clinical, technical, training) for assessing, ordering, fitting and training
  • Personnel costs for ordering and inventory of wheelchairs
  • Materials and equipment for assembly and modifications
  • Supplies (assessment forms, record-keeping, etc.)

Follow-up service

  • Personnel costs
  • Maintenance and repair

Indirect  Costs

  • Management
  • Administration
  • Overheads
  • Capacity building – training of service personnel

Sources of Funding

Many individuals who need a wheelchair cannot afford to buy one. Nevertheless, everyone who needs a wheelchair is entitled to one, regardless of his or her ability to pay for it. Thus, funds will need to be made available to users needing financial assistance. Different funding mechanisms are described below.

Government Funding

Government funding is usually the most reliable funding source where the government is committed to wheelchair services. Where wheelchair services are being established or provided by nongovernmental groups, it is recommended that there be continued consultation with the relevant government departments. Consultation should include long-term planning to determine when, how and to what extent the government is able to assume overall responsibility for the service in the future, including financial contributions.

Donor Funding

In many contexts, the initiation of a wheelchair service may depend on funding from national and international donors. Owing to its usually short-term nature, donor funding should be complemented by advocacy for government and other more sustainable sources of funding.

Wheelchair Funds Managed by Committee

A local “wheelchair fund” may be established to subsidize the cost of wheelchairs for individual users. Wheelchair funds exist to source funding and equitably manage donations secured for wheelchair provision. Users apply to the fund committee for a full or partial subsidy of the cost of a wheelchair. It is recommended that such funds apply a means test to determine how much financial assistance should be given. Government funding may also be channelled through a wheelchair fund.

Committees should comprise a cross-section of individuals who have a vested interest in sustainable wheelchair provision, such as (though not limited to) users, representatives of disabled people’s organizations, clinicians and technicians, government representatives and local dignitaries.

Contributions From Users

Unless full government funding is provided for wheelchair purchase, it is recommended that any financing system incorporates an element of financial contribution from users themselves. Contribution  programs should be run in conjunction with individual means tests to ensure that users contribute no more and no less than they can realistically afford. Users’ contributions also stimulate demand for products and services of appropriate quality.

A credit scheme is an option that allows users to borrow funds to purchase a wheelchair and to repay it over a period of time. Another option is an employment scheme, linking wheelchair provision with the opportunity for the user to obtain a job or funds to start a business and to pay for the wheelchair over time.

Fees on Donated or Imported Wheelchairs

Even when a wheelchair is donated free of charge, there are costs associated with its responsible provision to the user, including follow-up with the user and maintenance of the wheelchair. Organizations that import wheelchairs on a large scale without ensuring the necessary services, as described in Chapter 3, could be required to pay a fee to support the services.

Income Generation

Wheelchair services can be subsidized through income from the sale of other products such as canes, crutches, walkers, and toilet and shower chairs.

Voucher System

A voucher system may enable users to make their own purchasing decisions. The user is assessed and receives a prescription for a wheelchair with certain features. The user is given a voucher to the value of the cheapest wheelchair that fits the user’s prescription and that also meets minimum standards for safety, strength and durability. Users who want a more expensive chair that meets the prescription have to find the additional funds themselves.
 

5.5 Links With Other Sectors

Wheelchair service stakeholders are encouraged to collaborate with other sectors and institutions. These linkages reduce the cost of establishing and operating a wheelchair service and allow the service to grow more rapidly. Professionals in these other sectors will learn about wheelchair services, while the services will benefit from the increased involvement of educated and trained professionals. Collaboration will also facilitate more enabling or barrier-free environments, and a higher level of inclusion and participation

Health services and community outreach campaigns

Existing health services provide an infrastructure into which wheelchair services can be integrated at the lowest possible cost. Information services can be expanded to include wheelchairs, thus facilitating the identification and follow-up of users. The advantages include a common location for all services, the use of existing referral networks, and greater awareness among health and rehabilitation workers. Visits by health services to outlying areas (for HIV/AIDS awareness, community-based rehabilitation  programs and vaccination campaigns, for example), as well as literacy, voter registration/political participation campaigns and any other outreach  programs, also provide an opportunity to provide wheelchair services.

Education

Linking wheelchair provision with the education sector can facilitate the development of training materials and implementation of training  programs. In some instances, core subjects may already exist within the academic institution. In these situations it may be possible to integrate training for wheelchair provision into existing courses.

Similarly, manufacturing and testing laboratories may exist, which can help facilitate the design, production and testing of wheelchairs. University students in a variety of technical and health disciplines can be recruited for careers in wheelchair provision. Service providers can engage students for field placements to obtain experience. Finally, academic institutions will be familiar with methods of accreditation, which may help in establishing nationally recognized, accredited training for wheelchair provision.

Wheelchair services can also work with the education sector to ensure education is accessible to people with disabilities, as stated in Article 9a of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. With a wheelchair and a barrier-free environment, a person with disability can access education in school or college. Schools and colleges need to have, as a minimum, easy access to classrooms, wide doorways and accessible toilets.

wheelchair provision 02Livelihood

It is likely that new wheelchair users will need help in finding a job or acquiring the necessary skills to find a job or return to work. Article 27 of the United Nations Convention states: Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.

Policies that encourage employment training, job referral  programs and mainstream education for people with disabilities can help to increase the employment opportunities for users. There are benefits for both users and society when users are able to secure their own livelihood. Through employment, users and their families can better secure the necessities of life and improve their economic and social situation.

wheelchair provision 03The Standard Rules on the “Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities” notes that users have obligations as well as rights. With mobility, and a greater opportunity for work, users are in a better position to fulfil their obligations to society.

Social

Quality Of Life: With a wheelchair and a barrier-free environment, a person with disability can easily participate with dignity in social and community life. Active participation in the social, spiritual and cultural life of a community has a strong impact on the quality of users’ lives and their self-perception and self-esteem. Both participation in and appreciation of the arts, sports and recreational activities, can greatly contribute to a positive self-image and well-being.

wheelchair provision 04Active Participation: Barriers to participation of users include negative attitudes held by the public, the users’ families and sometimes the users themselves. An effective way of overcoming attitudinal barriers is for users to become more visible, demonstrating to family, friends and the broader public that they can participate in social activities (see Fig. 5.3.). Through direct experience, users and those around them learn the full extent of a user’s abilities. Users have the same rights and opportunities as others to have a family. In fact, a wheelchair makes family life easier and less stressful for a person with disability and his or her family.

Governments are encouraged to assist users in accessing wheelchairs and services that allow them to function as independently as possible. Users and their families also need to receive the social benefits to which they are entitled.

Infrastructure: Barrier-free environments create opportunities for users to exercise their rights, opportunities and freedoms, to become productive members of the family and to fulfil their duties to their family and community. The success and optimization of wheelchair provision in any country largely depend on the environment: a barrier-free environment will benefit not only wheelchair users but also others, especially older people. Basic aspects of the infrastructure that need to be accessible include:

  • buildings, i.e. housing and public buildings providing, for example, health services, education, employment, banking, government services and other public services;
  • public transport, such as buses, trains and ferries;
  • roads, streets and footpaths;
  • food, water and sanitation facilities such as open-air restaurants and markets, water taps, tube wells and toilets; and
  • facilities for culture and recreation, for example stadiums, cinemas, theatres, parks, public halls and community centres.

It is recommended that experts on wheelchair accessibility, for example users with adequate knowledge, be represented on local, regional and national committees that determine planning and construction. Universal design, including wheelchair access, could be included as a requirement in university  programs for civil engineering, architecture, urban planning and design.

Access for all in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, a consortium of disability organizations was formed to support a campaign to promote the inclusion and participation of all people with disabilities in tsunami relief, reconstruction and development work. The Access for all campaign asks for the inclusion of people with disabilities when rebuilding the nation. This means rebuilding an accessible nation: making all public buildings, transport, places of employment, services and infrastructure accessible to all. It also means including people with disabilities in plans for the nation.
 

5.6 Inclusion and Participation

The ultimate aim of wheelchair provision is to facilitate inclusion and participation. Mobility is often a precondition for participation in society. Hence, provision of wheelchairs that enhance personal mobility is an essential element of interventions to ensure that all citizens of a country get equal opportunities to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Inclusion and participation of people using wheelchairs will require: 

  • barrier-free environments and disabled-friendly products and services;
  • general services and systems such as housing, health care, transportation, schools and income generating activities are made accessible; and
  • specific services and systems such as medical treatment, rehabilitation, wheelchairs and other assistive devices and support services are made accessible and affordable

It is important that all stakeholders in wheelchair provision are aware of and understand the ultimate aim of providing wheelchairs, and translate this understanding into appropriate action to ensure sustainable inclusion and participation. When the wheelchair needs of people in less-resourced settings begin to be met, this will benefit not only the individuals and their families but also their countries.
 

Conclusions

  • Countries have the primary responsibility for wheelchair provision, as stated in United Nations policy instruments.
  • Areas to consider when developing a policy for wheelchair provision include design, production and supply, service delivery, training and financing.
  • Key activities in planning and implementation wheelchair provision are:
    identification of need
    planning at national level
    collaboration among stakeholders
    integration of existing health care of rehabiliation services
    adoption of national standards
    emp0werment of users
  • Linking wheelchair provision to other sectors of the society can be effective.
  • Infrastructure and transport systems need to be accessible to all.
  • The ultimate aim of wheelchair provision is to facilitate inclusion and participation.
     

Resources

  1.  Scherer MJ. The change in emphasis from people to person: introduction to the special issue on assistive technology. Disability & Rehabilitation, 2002, 24:1–4.
  2. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995. New Delhi, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, 1995 (http://socialjustice.nic.in/disabled/welcome.htm, accessed 11 March 2008).
  3. Wong-Hernandez l. Moving legislation into action: the examples of India & South Africa. Disability World, 2001, No. 6 (http://www.disabilityworld.org/01-02_01/gov/legislation.htm, accessed 11 March 2008).
  4. The Comprehensive National Disability Policy in Afghanistan. Kabul, Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled, 2003 (http://www.disability.gov.af/npad/publications.htm, accessed 11 March 2008).
  5. Oderud T et al. User satisfaction survey: an assessment study on wheelchairs in Tanzania. In: Report of a Consensus Conference on Wheelchairs for Developing Countries, Bangalore, India, 6–11 November 2006. Copenhagen, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, 2007.
  6. Munish A. Follow-up, service and maintenance (including repairs and maintenance), sustainability of service, service delivery system. In: Report of a Consensus Conference on Wheelchairs for Developing Countries, Bangalore, India, 6–11 November 2006. Copenhagen, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, 2007.
  7. Wiman R. et al. Meeting the needs of people with disabilities: new approaches in the health sector.Washington, DC,World Bank, 2002.

 

Dean Pusell Love the Universe in You

Dean Pusell Love the Universe in You

In the summer of 1988 the smell of salt hung in the air by the beach in Australia. I decided to escape the heat and go surfing with friends. We all ran into the water diving in at waist deep. As I floated to the surface face down unable to move. I knew the blood in the water was mine. Thankfully my friends noticed and rolled me over. Unable to feel from my bottom lip down I sucked in a big breath of our precious sky. Funny, I lost a lot of blood but not a tear in the ocean that day.

Dean Pusell Love the Universe in You

Love the Universe in You

I was placed in a halo brace to stabilize my quadriplegia and for the next fourteen months in hospital I was nurtured and doctered to use a cold steel wheelchair for the rest of this mortal life. I was only sixteen. After re-learning how to dress and feed myself it came time to write. Though it was most difficult I not only learned to write again, I came to allow my feelings to flow through my hands, drawing and painting over the next few years.

From 1994-2005 my creative works featured in 65 exhibitions around the world involving surreal painting, charcol drawings, collage, photography and poetry. I even turned my hand to writing lyric’s for a blind man to air on public radio. It lead to more television comericals and interviews.

For the last 18 months I have squinted through my heart, purely absorbing this mystically breathing life of spirit, breeze, and vibes- from pulse to paper in “Love the Universe in You” my scribbles began happily.

In a minds gentle silence and a hearts soft voice this smiling light was healing in a peaceful surrender, what grew in this pink and purple dusk amongst the closing lavender lotuses was the birth of a waking dream… piercing stars now whispered a gentle bliss. – Dean Pusell

“Love the Universe in You” is my latest published book. It was written with a glowing smile, deeply feeling the dual meanings of the title. Grab a copy and find your bliss.

Peace and smiles to all,
Love Dean Pusell
DeanPusell.com

sarah casteel wheelchair tennis champion

Sarah Casteel Wheelchair Tennis Champion

Sarah Casteel two time national wheelchair tennis champion suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury when a drunk driver slammed into the car she was driving on Independence Day in 2002. Tragically her 15 year old brother in the car at the time, did not survive the accident.

sarah casteel wheelchair tennis champion
Sarah Casteel Wheelchair Tennis Champion

Casteel, 18 years of age, was taken to the University of Missouri Hospital where she not only had to cope with the loss of her younger brother but the loss of her mobility. Now a paraplegic, she would not walk again.

Sarah remained in the hospital for three months before returning to her home in Greenville, South Carolina to continue with physical therapy.

Life with Paraplegia

Prior to the accident Sarah Casteel was an all-state volleyball player who excelled in tennis, competing on the boys’ tennis team in high school because there was no girls’ team and later played for Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. In her freshman year of college she wanted to study fashion design and art, but that all changed in an instant.

After the accident Casteel returned to Stephens College where she quickly discovered it was not wheelchair accessible. Many of her classmates were less than compassionate unfamiliar and uneasy with her new found paraplegia.

It was not good. It was weird; my life had changed so much. I found out I didn’t have friends anymore. A lot of people I thought were my friends disappeared. I guess they couldn’t deal with it. It was very hard. I decided this was not the place for me anymore. – Sarah Casteel

Casteel began looking for another school, one that could accommodate her wheelchair and improve her quality of life. She found such a place at the UTA (University of Texas in Arlington). She applied and received a wheelchair tennis scholarship to attend the UTA.

The occupational therapist I worked with in Missouri actually introduced me to wheelchair tennis, so I started looking for a school with a wheelchair tennis program, and the University of Texas actually was offering a scholarship for wheelchair tennis. I made friends there and I was No. 1 on a team of four. I competed against other colleges and in national tournaments. – Sarah Casteel

National Wheelchair Tennis Champion

Sarah Casteel

Sarah Casteel

The two time USTA (United States Tennis Association) national champion 2004-2005 Sarah Casteel has also competed in the World Cup held in the Netherlands. Graduating from Stephens College in 2005 with an Inter-disciplinary Studies degree with a focus on biology, she decided to pursue a career helping others.

A connection made with an occupational therapist in Missouri inspired her to become an Occupational Therapist. This led her to the Medical University of South Caroline (MUSC) where she graduated in 2009 with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy.

Training for a spot on the USA Paralympic wheelchair tennis team to compete in the Beijing Paralympics 2008 was interrupted when the steel plates and screws that fused her spinal vertebrae together began to irritate. After further spinal surgery and several week’s recovery, the unstoppable Casteel was back in training with her coach, Crafton Dicus, and competing nationally. Becoming a member of the U.S. Tennis Association High Performance Wheelchair Tennis Team.

Wheelchair Tennis Paralympic Games

Now with the guidance of pioneering wheelchair tennis coach Chuck McCuen, striving to hold a place in the World Cup Team 30 year old Sarah Casteel, a world-ranked wheelchair tennis champion feels she has a shot at representing her country in the Paralympics Games in London 2012. With the formidable tenacity Sarah Casteel has approached life with and a mean top-spin backhand that could snap your head off, whether Sarah makes the Paralympic team or not she will continue to inspire as all.

Loving Somebody Extraordinary

It was September 24th 2006 when my path crossed with my soul mate. At 35 I had all but lost faith in eligible men and monogamous relationships, never mind conventional marriage. There he was sitting in the only patch of sun at a Bar-B-Que and I couldn’t resist joining him to soak up the warmth. I had just given up alcohol for good, and offered him a taste of my ginger beer. His cousin, our neighbour of 34 years, was having a farewell BBQ and Francois almost didn’t come. Meeting Francois changed my life forever. 

Loving Somebody Extraordinary

Loving Somebody Extraordinary

Francois is a wiz on computers and online games. At the time he was busy with Lineage II. He explained how he was able to gather with other online gamers across the world to arrange sieges, defend castles and fend off fierce dragons. He called himself a “lowly warrior”. I have since discovered he is more likely a Knight. With many of his fellow swordsmen being North Americans, most of the online battles were scheduled for 4am. This was no trouble for Francois and he would be awake and ready to support his guild. 

His lifestyle was akin to that of a vampire, drawing the thick curtains during daylight so the glare wouldn’t reflect off the graphics, and awake all night to battle. He fought with pride, honour and dignity, and this seemed to mirror his inner core. Francois was clearly a gentleman who encompassed good old fashioned chivalry. He also has a deep understanding of human nature, and a permanent good humour. These are rare and precious qualities that were obviously enhanced through his disability. Francois has a level C5-6 spinal cord injury (SCI) and is completely paralysed from his chest down to his feet. He has partial movement of his upper arms running down into wrist extension, but sadly it stops short of hand and finger movement. 

At 5:20pm on a warm Monday afternoon in 1992, a car drove into Francois flinging him off his motorcycle and breaking his neck. What would you do if you could alter 10 minutes in your lifetime? He was 18 years old and had just started working. He spent six months at the Conradie Rehabilitation Centre for spinal cord injuries where he recovered and was taught how to adapt to his new life. The first three months were spent in a head brace which was fastened tightly to prevent any movement at all so that the bones in his neck could fuse. They didn’t realize that his scapula was broken, and the pressure of the brace against his shoulder was agonizing. The pain in his shoulder restricts pushing his wheelchair to this day. Suddenly lying on your back with no sensation and no movement in your entire body is a life sentence that one cannot compare to anything. It’s unthinkable. 

The ward was full of men forced to come to terms with their injuries. They developed an unspoken bond and deep understanding that would resurface years later when they bumped into each other again. Every three hours they were turned to prevent pressure sores, which meant a peaceful night’s sleep was impossible. Pressure sores are one of the worst afflictions of paralysis. They develop too easily from lack of blood circulation, mostly from a hip or bony extrusion pressing for too long on a surface. Being paralysed means not being able to feel anything below the level of the break, and often a pressure sore can go unnoticed until it’s very serious. Tragically, two thirds of people with a spinal cord injury suffer chronic, intractable pain in those areas where there is sensation. A “complete break” is when the nerve has been completely severed, whereas an “incomplete break” means there is still some connection and some level of recovery.

God’s miracle of creation is clearly evident in how the organs of the body know their respective tasks and carry on as per normal. Bladders and bowels still need to be emptied. This is one of the biggest hurdles that a paralysed person faces, how to manage their bowel routine and to retain some sort of dignity. Did you know that it’s impossible to cough without chest muscles? This change’s the dynamics of catching a simple cold for fear that it may become bronchitis. I certainly didn’t know. I knew virtually nothing about paralysis when I met Francois. But I was willing to learn one day at a time in order to spend time with him. I laughed more than I had in years, life had become adventurous and fun, I had found my very own Mr Bean and perfectly preserved Peter Pan rolled into one. 

Francois enjoys the view from his wheechair in Knynsa

Francois enjoys the view from his wheechair in Knynsa

Our first date was a drive to Ceres, stopping at Bainskloof pass for a picnic. It would be his first picnic in 15 years. Imagine not doing things for 15 years, not going to the movies, not believing you could have a loving partner or a normal life. It was a first of many more firsts to follow. But that picnic was our very first time and we hadn’t yet figured out the do’s and don’ts. That day I burnt his hand with a hot coffee cup (he still has a small scar); he developed the start of a pressure sore sitting on a hard car seat; and he got a bladder infection from an overfull legbag that he didn’t want to ask me to empty. It was love. And the physical attraction was undeniable. He had a twinkle in his gorgeous blue eyes that made my heart skip a beat. 

We both knew from the beginning that we had found the love we had once believed in. I had travelled around the world and found the centre of my universe on my doorstep. We used to play together as carefree children. Francois proposed to me on 7/7/2007 during a weekend away at Cape Agulhas. Our friends and family joined in an awesome engagement celebration at Wiesenhof, in the heart of nature. We had a BBQ at the lapa overlooking the dam, with each guest receiving a straw sunhat as a special memento.

Computer keyboard typing splint

Computer keyboard typing splint

Soon after we met, Francois embarked on an arduous journey of studying IT through UNISA. It’s a four year course that he has immersed himself into, determined to make a success. He has been richly rewarded with distinctions for almost all of his subjects. It’s a tremendous achievement, especially given the technical difficulties involved for him to study and write his exams. He is fortunately able to operate a computer easily with the aid of a typing stick. In fact, with another set of helping hands he has built all his own computers. However, a textbook poses much more of a challenge. To handle a book and turn pages without the use of hands and fingers is no easy feat.

Here Francois’ mother deserves a special mention, as she tirelessly assists him with his studies as his caregiver. The first examination that Francois wrote was nail-biting. Other students are able to write exams but Francois needs a computer to type on. They had designated a computer at the back of the normal exam venue upstairs. On that particular day the lifts were out of order. Mayhem and panic followed. They contemplated carrying Francois upstairs, but this was too daunting and dangerous.

The library was downstairs and they ended up using one of the quiet audio-visual rooms, make-shifting a desk for him. Telephone books were cleverly placed underneath to raise the level of the desk to the height of his wheelchair. Another desk was placed alongside for Francois to be able to lean on. Without him having stomach muscles he is unable to balance, so without support he would topple over. I’m not sure if he would fare well on a boat, it’s an adventure we’re still to try. Lastly, he brings his own keyboard and mouse for ease of use. This was to become Francois’ examination venue thereafter. A few years on, Johan Jacobs, the Deputy Director at UNISA, specially designed motorised adjustable desks suitable for people with any sized wheelchair, and purchased state-of-the art computers for people with any type of disability.

Each exam has had its own set of challenges. Once, Francois had to re-write his exams. It was a very bleak day indeed. As Francois was finishing up and preparing to print, MS Word froze and all his answers were corrupted. That day Francois and his invigilator sat for seven hours straight as he diligently rewrote the entire paper. Tricky too is when questions require him to draw a technical diagram, which he cannot do. This can be beyond frustrating. Frustration is the number one stumbling block. Able bodied people are able to go for a walk, go for a drive, do something else to release our pent-up frustration. How does a paralysed person handle the many frustrations that he encounters? Francois remains sane with an insane sense of humour.

It’s a daily reminder for me to be ever-grateful that I am physically able to get out of bed, take a shower, hop into the car and drive to work. The simple everyday things that we take for granted are actually the greatest gifts in life. Francois is unable to cross a road on his own because of the pavements. It takes a minimum of two hours to get us both ready in the mornings. All routine tasks take thrice as much time and effort.

Going out can become emotionally draining when things go wrong: if the legbag leaks and floods the shoe with urine; not being able to find parking in a designated wheelchair bay; no room for the wheelchair next to the car, a small oversight in some parking areas; the catheter not draining properly (this is life-threatening if not fixed in time); extreme hot or cold weather (quadriplegics don’t have normal temperature regulating bodily functions); transferring into or out of the car in rain where everything plus the wheelchair cushion gets wet. Yet after the rain there is always a rainbow. We had a magical wedding on 4/4/2009, it was a dream come true. The love and support from our family and friends was phenomenal. This was topped by the best adventure we’d ever had, a honeymoon in Kruger National Park.

Travelling-wheelie-Wall-E

Travelling companion Wall-E

Wall-E was our travelling companion, a young fluffy lion with wild hair and an eagerness to see untouched nature. Kruger is well equipped for wheelchairs, and each of the five parks we stayed in had designated bungalows that were wheelchair friendly. Though being wheelchair friendly doesn’t necessarily mean being quadriplegic-friendly. On two of the balconies I almost lost Francois as he went flying down a ramp that was too steep, once backwards! He also burnt his hand quite severely while tending to the fire one windy evening. We had duct-taped a long two-prong fork to his hand so that he could turn the meat. He is unable to feel heat on his hand and the fire must have been hotter than we realized.

 We both tend to put on our McGyver caps when trying to find clever ways of doing everyday things. Great successes are duct-taping a table-tennis bat to his hand, putting non-slip handgrips onto everything, which has amongst other things brought out the chef in him. Along our travels we were privileged to find QAWC (QuadPara Association of Western Cape) through which we have met so many other people in a similar situation as us. Some were recovering at Conradie at the same time as Francois, cementing strong friendships. They don’t let adversity hold them back. It is fascinating to observe how everyone finds ingenious ways of doing things. It is just a lot harder to physically do everyday things, and a person’s potential is dependent on their environment and support base. Which is why it’s uplifting when total strangers offer their help. On a particularly interesting day at the World of Birds, a steep pathway had become damp and slippery. We were stuck. Out of the blue a strong set of arms enveloped my shoulders and helped me push the wheelchair. It’s these moments that live forever.

Christopher Reeve named his first book “Still Me”. He was still the same person inside, regardless of his physical condition and appearance. He was still the same person, yet even better in many ways. As was Francois, he most likely developed a bucket load of patience, a deeper level of understanding, and an enhanced emotional intelligence* after his accident. Chris used his fortune and misfortune to encourage researchers to find cures and a better quality of life for paralysis victims. Chris’ work and legacy is paying off. Recently a paralysed victim of a car accident, Rob Summers, has been able to move again through ground-breaking electrical nerve stimulation. Although still early days, it pays homage to the title of Christopher Reeve’s second book, “Nothing is Impossible”

Jessica

3D wheelchair models Michael and Kay splash into some swimming pool fun

Wheelchair Models Pool Fun

This week 3D wheelchair models Michael and Kay get wet in pool fun. Water is a difficult medium to animate. Plugins can achieve a realistic effect but out of the box Daz3D is hopeless at animating water. Adjusting opacity works fine for still images. However, creating an animated splash effect as Michael plunges into the pool in Daz3D is a big fail.

Three solutions; purchase a plugin, create splashes in another 3D modeling tool to import and animate, or place the camera at water level and move the water surface. For the simple purpose of bringing you original wheelchair related content we did the latter for this short video clip.

Wheelchair Models Pool Fun Video

Realistic Wheelchair Models

Good lighting is essential to realistic effects. Get the movements right before adding lights as they slow render speeds dramatically. We import the pool scene and fill it with water. Animate disability models sexy paraplegic Michael in his briefs and Kay in a pink bikini jumping into the swimming pool. Then add eleven slightly yellow distant lights to replicate sunlight; a ring of five pointing down at -33 degrees, five up at 44 degrees, and one down at -59 degrees. We set raytracing on the last light with an intensity of 73 and a shadow softness of 2 for a realistic sun shadow.

Adjusting Lighting for Wheelchair Renders

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The Pool Fun Part

We understand most don’t care how we create content, you just want to see the end results, and that’s ok. We have no purpose without an audience. If our audience does create and share stories, photos, video, comments, etc we will grow faster and serve you better. We built this website so you can express yourself. These anatomically correct models can be made do much more than we have shown here. We are also interested in using real-life models, disabled or not.

Graham Streets
MSC Admin

Disabled wheelchair model animation Michael pushing manual Flex design wheelchair

Wheelchair Animation In Daz3D

Ok rock stars, here is our Flex design wheelchair animation in Daz3D. With a few quick steps you can have fun creating your own wheelchair animation in Daz3D at home for free. Download a free version of Daz 3D from their website. Previously I showed how to import 3D models and figures, set colors, textures, clothing, pose the figures and so on. Now let’s have some 3D anim movie fun.

Wheelchair Wheel Rotation

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To setup your wheelchair wheel rotation open Daz3D and click the Pose & Animate tab. 1) Import your wheels to the zero point. 2) Set X Rotate to 720. 3) Set Y Translate to 31. 4) On the timeline set 91 frames, a range of 0 to 90, and drop the frames per second (FPS) to 20. 5) On frame 90 set Z Translate to -389.36. Render to see if your wheelchair wheel rotation is correct and matches the distance. 

It might be worth explaining how I calculated wheel rotation and distance. 2 PI R equals the circumference of a circle. Imagine wrapping a string around the tyre then laying it out flat, we want to know that measurement to sync the wheel rotation to distance. PI is 3.14 and R (radius) is 31. So 3.14 x 31 x 2 = 194.68 for one full wheel rotation. Times 2 again for two wheel rotations and we get 389.36.

Posing Disabled Wheelchair Model

Now the wheelchair animation is looking good we start posing disabled wheelchair model Michael. Sit him in our flex wheelchair at frame zero and on frame 90 set Z Translate to -389.36. Then add key-frames and adjust his chest, arms, hands etc to give the illusion he’s pushing the wheelchair. Take a few renders going back and tweaking to achieve a realistic motion. Here’s our paraplegic hunk Michael in motion.

Sweet, all we do now is set a scene add a few lights and drop in a background. Indoor lighting can be a bit tricky in Daz3D so I won’t bore you with all that here. Just know in Daz3D you need raytracing on at least one light to get a realistic shadow effect. Here we have the sunlight (distant light) coming through the window and four down lights (spotlights) all set with raytracing on.

And with that I’m off to watch The Lorax.

3D Wheelchair Models

3D Wheelchair Models Ioke & Michael

More 3D wheelchair modeling creations. This female wheelchair model is Aiko from Daz 3D. I call her Ioke after the lovely Thai Airways flight attendant who assisted me on a recent trip to Thailand. I have been designing several working 3D wheelchair models to use on our website. And ladies, you’ll be happy to know I’ve included Michael, a handsome 3D male model.

Many good looking men and women with spinal cord injury in wheelchairs and several devotees are willing to model for me. Problem is they suddenly become shy when I talk of publishing their images on the internet. By using cyber 3D wheelchair models nobody’s feelings get bent. If you want to become a real-life model for us please use the “Quick Contact” form below.

3D Wheelchair Model Ioke

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(1) Our 3D wheelchair model Ioke sitting in a powerchair. (2) We zoom in to give her some personality. (3) Open her body suit collar for a little sex appeal. There are many parameters we can adjust; breast and nipple size, tummy, glutes, hips, wrist. Overal figure; voluptuous, muscular etc. Her face; Eyebrow frown, raise, wink, yell, purse lips, teeth open, tounge out, and eye color are just some options. (4) We give her a smile and (5) close her extraordinarily large eyes a little.

Now let’s disable her! It’s common for wheelchair users with spinal cord injury to have muscle wasting in their legs as they no longer function. It’s called flaccid legs. (6) Our selected leg components are given a small box with red blue and green arrows. These indicate the 3D models X Y and Z axis. (7) To make the leg muscels appear thinner and slightly narrower we reduce the X and Z scale axis. Wheelchair users will also be familiar with turned feet. (8) I turned the right foot in a little when adjusting hip and knee bed angles to sit Ioke in the wheelchair. (9) One hand on the wheelchair control joystick and (10) the other bracing our 3D model Ioke in her power wheelchair.

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How are we looking? I know it’s not perfect. I want to put yellow coil springs under the wheelchair seat, retractable arm rests, seatbelts and calf straps, but as a prototype it’s getting there.

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A chasm scene with lights positioned for anime effect. Once I optimise the 3D wheelchair model and import it as seperate parts I’ll be able to animate and render a movie. For now I better put up a preview of our male 3D model Michael, so our female members don’t lynch me.

3D Wheelchair Model Michael

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Our 3D wheelchair model Michael is doing a wheelstand in a manual hospital style wheelchair. I edited the wheelchair in Rhino 3D then pulled it into Daz 3D to position Michael in it.

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Victoria screams with fright as 3D wheelchair model Michael pops a wheelie in a blue hospital style wheelchair. It’s like Barbie dolls for grown-ups! Read on to see our dasterdly plans for world domination. A no plastic zone. Alloy is the future.

3D Disability Modeling

CGI in movies; Finding Nemo, Avatar, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Movie studios employ dozens of CGI (Computer Generated Image) artists who toil for years just to produce a two hour movie. Most of us take months to learn how to use complex NURBS 3D modeling programs. Webmasters will be familiar with 3D modeling tools. I have experience with Lightwave, Maya, Max, Poser, Rhino, Cybermotion, Blender, Daz 3D and others. I thought you might like to see a few of my 3D disability modeling creations.

This 11 second video clip is so old I forget the name of the program it was made with. I do remember it allowed a photo of someones face to ba applied to the model. This is my friend Kylie. We then select clothes, soundtrack, and coreograph her dance moves. Set a camera angle and render (produce) the scene. Note* the full length video clip is much higher quality.

That was easy and fun, lets’ jump from this simple 3D modeling tool to a full on sophisticated CGI industry heavy weight, Rhinoceros 3D.

A 3D model in Rhino is a series of connected shapes that form a mesh. For example, a triangle is three connected lines making  three points. It’s only a frame until you color it in. Then it takes on the appearence of a flat surface (with three points). By adding more points along any side of the triangle, we can manipulate them to form complex shapes (polygons), which eventually become our 3D model. Here are some screen shots of building a Rhino 3D light bulb mesh.

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Now with a few additions our 3D light bulb can be used in a real world marketing applications like this ‘Self Illumination’ example by Andre Kutscherauer.

self illumination

self illumination

Color gloss and transparency bring to life a model in true Disney Pixar movie style. Things have come a long way since the early days of my 3D modeling Kylie. For a long time the complexity of the human face resembled mannequins but not any more. In the current CGI world, mathematical CAD (Computer Aided Design) and RPG (Role Playing Game) designers have blended, producing very realistic life like 3D models. It’s old world meets new school to stunning visual effect.

I have used Rhinocerous 3D for many years. Rhino 3D can create, edit, analyze, document, render, animate, and translate NURBS curves. Surfaces and solids have no limit on complexity, degree, or size. Rhino supports polygon meshes and point clouds. Rhino also has a very user friendly interface. I find the animation side over complicated however, so generally create .3ds or .obj models in Rhino then import them into another program like Blender or Daz 3D to animate and render. 

The really cool thing with Blender is it’s free. Yes completely free, and just as powerful as the 3D modeling big boys. Blenders downfall is an overly complicated interface. Simply importing a 3D model will have most new users scratching their head. Blender uses python scripting to animate which is great, but again difficult for beginners. If you start with a free .3ds model you’ll be off to a flying start.

Here’s a sneak peak at a wheelchair 3D disability modeling project I’m currently working on. I call her Ioke.

Ioke 3D disability wheelchair model

Ioke 3D Disability Modeling Wheelchairs

Stay tuned for more Ioke… coming soon.

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