We chat to Ailsa Reston, a qualified OT since 1986, co-owner of Cheshire’s RKS Occupational Therapist Services and advisor to TGA on how the WHILL Model C is an effective mobility solution…
Hi Ailsa, how does TGA’s WHILL Model C improve occupational performance?
"The use of WHILL Model C has benefited my clients greatly and has led to them being involved in more activities outside of their home – improving their social interaction with other people and enabling them to participate in pastimes and hobbies. As the powerchair is very transportable it can be used for traveling by car, train or plane making holidaying more accessible. The ability to participate in these activities improves a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence, leading to greater psychological benefits."
Talking of psychological benefits, can the Model C improve mental health and well-being?
"The clients I have been involved with who use WHILL Model C like the look of the product in that it is stylish and does not look like a powered wheelchair. They feel confident and more accepted as the appearance of the wheelchair is not clinical. This leads to the powered wheelchair being used in everyday situations and improving their well-being and quality of life. It's all about the 'feel good factor'."
To the more nitty-gritty stuff, what postural benefits are provided by the Model C?
"Seating alterations are limited and are not suitable for users with complex postural needs. However, the ergonomic back rest and padded cover are effective for many individuals with appropriate upper body strength and stability. The angle of the back rest is adjustable and so can be altered to provide comfort and good postural positioning for those clients who need support in the lumbar region of the back. The ability to fit a more prescriptive cushion on the seat base also helps if suitable for a client's individual needs."
Who is the chair most appropriate for?
"The Model C is appropriate for those people who do not have complex postural needs and require mobilisation over longer distances. It provides independence over various surfaces in urban and semi-rural environments such as tarmac, grass and gravel. It is not a product for surfaces with extreme undulations such as rugged and rocky off-road tracks."
How does the Model C differ from other powerchairs from a clinical point of view?
"From a mental health perspective, the design and styling of this powered wheelchair provides users with greater self-confidence and self-worth. They feel they are using attractive equipment that fits into their lifestyle and is not embarrassing. Therefore, this enables those users, who previously would not use a traditionally styled product, independent mobility in a powerchair that is modern, attractive and non-medical looking."
How is it ergonomic?
"The controls on the WHILL Model C are akin to a computer mouse and so can be used with the palm of the hand – making manipulation easier for people with arthritic fingers or limited hand function. The WHILL Model C has a small footprint and can turn on its own axis, hence providing easier access to environments where space is limited."
How can OTs justify grant funding towards the Model C?
"It fulfils the need for people who feel conscious of being in a powered wheelchair which can compromise outdoor independence. These individuals consider being visible in an unattractive medical device will provoke negative attitudes and reactions from able bodied people. In contrast, WHILL Model C has a contemporary design and helps owners remain positive and confident. Its looks are perceived as more in keeping with modern society and allows inconspicuous mobility in the outside world."
Please summarise the Model C's suitability from an OTs perspective...
"The TGA WHILL Model C is a quality product that is ideal for semi-ambulant users who value product style and usability. It is not the answer for all users and their varying needs, especially individuals with complex seating requirements. This product resolves many barriers to independence through design that is viewed more positively resulting in greater inclusion within society."
Do you also have a question on the WHILL Model C? Call 0800 107 5349 for more information or to book a free home demonstration.