Many wheelchair users are all too familiar with the effect snow has on their outdoor activities. Even able-bodied folks have a hard time getting around in the winter. A bit of snow and ice on a sidewalk can present a daunting challenge, especially if one has to navigate a sloped surface in the cold dead of winter. For people in wheelchairs, these kinds of obstacles present a particularly perplexing problem.
Navigating icy pathways with a wheelchair can be even more daunting than navigating rocky paths or steep slopes. During the best of weather a wheelchair user can find a steep hill or ramp difficult, as their chair threatens to roll backwards before they reach the top. Imagine the added difficulty of an icy surface that can cause the vehicle to slide or roll backwards!
Even an inch of snow on the sidewalk be very difficult to maneuver for a wheelchair user, dramatically limiting the person’s mobility. Wheels tend to sink in snow, which not only mires the wheelchair user’s ability to move, but can actually cause the chair to tip over, making it difficult to remain seated. Tracy Tabaka, of Rogers, MN, says, “There’s a lot of tipping yourself back and jumping over piles of snow.”
Here comes a “ski” patrol! Recently introduced to the market, Wheelblades can significantly reduce the obstacle of winter weather for wheelchair users. While they might not help the issue of icy inclines, they should help out a great deal in maneuvering through snowy conditions. Tracy and Sam Tabaka were the first to try the new product. Both wheelchair users, the Tabakas are extremely active and value their ability to remain so.
Wheelblades are, quite literally, small skis that attach to the front wheels of the wheelchair and help to keep the wheels from sinking in the snow. Like snowshoes, they distribute the weight of the chair over a much larger space, which allows the wheelchair user to glide on top of the snow.
The Tabakas are thrilled with the new gadgets. “We spend however many months out of the year with snow in Minnesota, and this is a huge thing,” Tracy said.
The skis, the Tabakas say, have had a huge impact on their daily lives. Sam says of the device, “It definitely allows me to be more independent. It’s definitely changed my outlook on what I can do in winter on my own.”
“It’s a huge difference, just for comfort and feeling secure,” Tracy said.
Watch how Wheelblades have enhanced the winter season for the Tabakas in the video. How do you get around in wintry weather these days?