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Apr 29, 2011

Highlights from the Los Angeles Abilities Expo, e.g., Michell's "Favorite Things"

 

If any of you haven't gone to an Abilities Expo lately, it truly is a great place to get information on assistance organizations and new products that can make life easier for those with disabilities.  I hadn't been to one in a couple years, and enjoyed meeting some new vendors with great new innovative products and services in Los Angeles last weekend!  Borrowing from the Oprah Winfrey Show, I thought I would tell you about my "Favorite Things" at the Abilities Expo.  Now of course, I can't give my audience free samples of each thing I saw, but you never know, maybe some day TravelinWheels will be popular enough to get at least a couple little giveaways! 

Anyway, on to the products!

Getting around...

Some of you may have seen me post about the FreeWheel.  Pat Dougherty, an inventor, who just so happens to be in a wheelchair, came up with the idea to create a single wheel that attaches to the footplate and slightly lifts the casters of a manual wheelchair up just enough so that they don't get caught in grass, snow, gravel, etc.  We have one and love it!  It's small enough to attach to the back of the wheelchair when not in use.  Well, Pat, came up with another handy invention this year!  It's a luggage rack that sits on top of the Freewheel.  It can accommodate a small suitcase or a couple boxes, freeing up your hands to push your chair.  It's lightweight and easy to transport, too.  You can get more information at www.gofreewheel.com.

If you are looking for a compact power scooter, the Luggie Scooter may be just what you are looking for.  It's lightweight, and folds in seconds to fit in your trunk or back seat!  I was amazed at how small it was, but it still had some power to it.  You can see a demo of it on www.freeriderhealthcare.com

Imagine being able to push your manual chair, go faster, and not burn out your shoulders?  I had the opportunity to try out the Wijit.  The Wijit's wheel attaches to your axel with levers that allow you to go forward, backward and in circles without ever touching your wheels.  I got to try it out, and after a couple minutes, was sailing down the Expo hall.  Imagine the damage you could do using the Wijit AND the Freewheel!  Scary!  If you'd like to see a demo of the Wijit, go to www.wijit.com.

If you are a caregiver who needs a lightweight folding wheelchair for travel, check out Troy Technologies' Travel Wheelchairs.  They are very compact, but sturdy.   I loved all the cool seating options they had to manage any level of ability with style.   They even had an L.A. Lakers chair that got a lot of attention from the crowd.  You can see them at www.troytechnologies.net.

This next product was by far, the most innovative!  A new seating system has been created for the Segway!  It's ingenious.  Casey Johanson, co-creator of the Ally, and a double-amputee, was zipping all over downtown Los Angeles when I met up with him.  It was incredible to see him handle curbs, uneven streets, and sidewalks effortlessly.  Even if you don't need one, you need to check this thing out!  Go to www.allychair.com.

Need a Lift?

Ability Access has a portable lift that works with vehicles, homes, and RV's!  The sling-lift mounts are versatile, and allow you to move the lift to where you need it.  You can see demos at http://www.port-a-lift.com.

Potty Breaks...

Mobility Solutions' President, Rick Goldstein, wanted to build folding, compact shower/commode chairs that were easy to travel with and discreet.  He was tired of having hotel porters lug around his chair for the world to see and has come up with one that folds into a small case.  They are well-built and come in a variety of colors, too!  Take a look at www.goesanywhere.com.

Ladies, are you looking for a discreet way to do your business when there is no bathroom available?  Medical Technologies of Georgia, Inc. has created the MTG Cath-Lean, an extremely discreet closed cath system with a collection bag AND another opague bag to put the collection bag in because not everyone needs to know your business!  You can see them at www.medtechga.com.

Safety First!

I never knew this company existed, and if I had, I would have never signed up for AAA!  ADA Nationwide Roadside Assistance Program provides roadside assistance for your wheelchair, lift, ramp, and vehicle, including emergency towing, flat tire changes, fuel, battery jumps/replacement, unlocks, and Para-transit lift rides.   Honestly, I never thought about what could happen if my daughter's car ever broke down.  Not many tow trucks are accessible, and she would be left on the side of the road!  Take a look at the program at www.adanationwide.com.

Calling all Adventurers!

Angela Madsen, who is a Guiness World Book Record Holder and the first paraplegic to cross the Atlantic and Indian Oceans by oar rowing, was at the Expo.  She is an amazing woman, and runs the California Adaptive Rowing Program.  If you are interested in taking up rowing, see her at www.rowoflife.com.

Life Rolls On, a subsidiary of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury and utilizes action sports as a platform to inspire infinite possibilities despite paralysis.  They sponsor several events and are looking for volunteers, as well as members!  You can find them at www.liferollson.org.

Looking For Some New Threads?

3E Love is always coming up with new designs featuring their heart/wheelchair to wow their customers!  They had a busy booth filled with colorful shirts, buttons and jewelry with the mission to embrace, educate, and empower.  You can purchase from their online store at http://3elove.bigcartel.com/category/allbutfundraisers.

Get Involved!

Ralph's "RIDERS" are a team of extraordinary mobility challenged individuals that provide peer guidance to individuals with similar disabilities. Each RIDER has a spinal cord injury or mobility impairment and has adjusted to life extremely well despite enormous obstacles. They are there to provide advice, resources, or lend an ear.  You can find out more about them at http://www.ralphsriders.org/index.html.

There were so many other great products and services, too many to mention!!!  If you ever get a chance to go to the Abilities Expo in your area, take advantage of it.  They are free to the public, and also have several workshops on everything from accessibility in technology to travel.   You might just learn a little something and have some fun in the process!

Until next time,  safe travels!