By Alexis Snyder, Convaid Guest Blogger
Sara has been a Convaid user for many years. Many times over the years people would mistake her Convaid Cruiser for a stroller and not a mobility device.
When she was younger, this was not a problem but sometimes even helpful to not stand out from other children in conventional strollers. However, as she got older, it became an issue making Sara feel very self-conscious. Children, and even some adults, would ask why a big girl was using a stroller.
For this reason, as Sara began to outgrow her Convaid Cruiser, we decided she needed a more traditional looking wheelchair. We assumed Convaid would continue to look too young for her. After ordering and receiving a more traditional wheelchair we quickly discovered that it was not suitable for Sara’s needs. Due to dysautonomia and problems handling sun and heat, a canopy is a necessity for Sara. Furthermore, due to low muscle tone and fatigue issues, Sara’s chair requires a high back to support her shoulders and neck and allow a place for her head to rest.
While we were able to have a more mature looking wheelchair custom designed with these factors in mind, it did not work well. We worked with the company to try and make it functional for us, but it was clear that it was not going to work. As we continued to use this particular wheelchair and plan our next move, we were also planning a vacation. This was not just any vacation, it was a Disney vacation, which meant warm weather, long days and air travel. We needed good sun coverage, a high back and the capability of traveling by airplane without the worry of the chair getting damaged.
We decided that we needed to pull out our tried-and-true Convaid Cruiser for the trip because it met all of Sara’s needs and had been on several flights and vacations before and returned home unscathed. Sara was slightly disappointed not to have her more mature look, but agreed that she would be more comfortable in the Convaid Cruiser for this vacation. As we set off for vacation with the Convaid Cruiser, we planned to continue looking for a new chair when we returned home.
While on vacation, neither I nor Sara could picture using any other type of wheelchair and struggled with the notion that she still needed to get out of the stroller look. We began to ponder the notion that there must be some way to achieve a mature look with a Convaid product. When we got home, we began doing the research and quickly realized that we might be able to achieve the look that Sara desired and meet her seating needs with the Convaid EZ Rider.
After a few configuration adjustments — such as trading the Condura upholstery for textiline, adding a two-pice handle and larger back wheels — voila, Sara had her mature-looking Convaid portable wheelchair! All of Sara’s seating needs were met, along with the durability and ease we had grown to know and love from Convaid, all the while achieving a more standard wheelchair appearance.
The true test, however, came at the beginning of this school year and again this week when Sara suffered and injury. While she doesn’t use her Convaid EZ Rider on a regular basis at school, she needed to use it to get around during these times. Sara is grinning from ear-to-ear in the picture associated with this post because she was happy to report that an older eighth grader had come up to her and asked, “Why do you need to use a wheelchair?” rather than the old question she regularly heard about why she was using a stroller.