A ‘cool’ solution for our customer

Feb 22, 2023

Equipment Manager Eamon stands behind a wheelchair fitted with the WheelAir cooling system

Wednesday 1 March marks International Wheelchair Day, when we celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair can have on the lives of people living with disability.

It’s also a chance to celebrate the great work of the many millions of people who provide wheelchairs, support and care for wheelchair users, and who help make the world more accessible and comfortable for people with mobility issues.

Our Rocky Bay Equipment and Clinical Services teams have done just that recently, working together to develop a very ‘cool’ customised wheelchair for a customer – quite literally!

The Equipment team, along with Advanced Clinician Occupational Therapist, Kenny Ho, combined forces to locally source, research, design and fit a temperature control system into a customer’s wheelchair, the technology known as “WheelAir”.

After researching the WheelAir system – which was originally located by the family of our customer – Kenny approached the Equipment team about incorporating it into highly contoured seating inserts of his customer’s wheelchair. Through active airflow, WheelAir allows for the self-regulation of an individual’s body temperature.

“The WheelAir unit is essentially a light weight USC (high frequency switchmode) charged battery powered cooling unit”, says Rocky Bay Equipment Manager, Eamon O’Brien.

“It is mounted at the rear of the chair, and ducts deliver the cool air through the cushions via an AirMesh fabric to the individual. Fitting the WheelAir unit to a wheelchair will offer thermal relief and moisture control, helping to keep skin cooler, dry and clean.”

After a few weeks of design, and trialing by the customer over the New Year period, the feedback was very positive.

“Our customer’s mum and support worker all said the difference was very noticeable”, says Kenny.

Kenny reported that our customer was more comfortable, and on measuring their skin temperature and comparing them between the old wheelchair insert and the new insert with the fan on, there was a difference of ~4 degrees Celsius when using generic measuring tools.

“Every degree of difference is significant because a one degree increase in skin temperature leads to a 13% increase in metabolic demand (expenditure of energy) not to mention an increase in discomfort due to sweating,” says Kenny.

Although flagging that more clinical measurements can help determine an even more accurate result, Kenny is pleased with the results experienced so far with the WheelAir.

“I am very confident this is definitely working well.”

If you have a customer who might benefit from a similar system contact Rocky Bay Equipment at [email protected] or call 6399 4191.

If you’re looking to purchase or hire any equipment, visit our online shop here.

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