New type of wheelchair is helping people navigate all types of terrians

Monday, August 30th 2004, 12:41 pm
By: News On 6

For people in wheelchairs, there were basically two choices. A manual chair that can be exhausting, especially on rough or steep terrain. Or a bulky, electric model that's tough to navigate in tight spaces.

But a Tulsa man wants people to know they've re-invented the wheelchair so to speak. News on 6 reporter Steve Berg shows us how.

As a dispatcher for PSO, Kent Carter directs the electric crews, telling them where to go. Lately he has a lot more control over where "he" goes, as he zips around his small cubicle with a few nimble flicks of the wrist. "Been in a manual wheelchair for about the past 6 and a half years and been in this one for the past 6 months and it's wonderful."

Kent used to work with the crews, but a fall left him paralyzed from the chest down. And wheelchair users will tell you that unfortunately, the injuries don't stop there. "The longer you're in a chair, the more apt you are to have carpal-tunnel or rotator-cuff problems." But the chair, the I-glide, blends manual and electric, providing a seamless power boost when needed like in grass.

"You can tell I do the same type with my arms, but it just keeps the steady pace." Or on inclines. "I used to dread coming up this hill, used to always have to buy somebody a pop to get them to push me up this hill." It also automatically brakes him as he goes downhill. Comes in handy when he heads down to the lake for his favorite hobby.

Instead of two 40 pound car batteries in a fully-electric wheelchair, this one only needs an 8-pound battery; he can work with both hands behind his back. The I-glide has only been out about a year, and Kent doesn't think many people know about it. "I haven't seen anyone else in Tulsa with one except myself."

Kent hopes there's a cure for spinal cord injuries someday, but if there's not, he has to plan for the future. "If I'm in this chair when I'm 50 or 60, this chair right here is going to save a lot of wear and tear on my body."

For information this wheelchair, you can visit the website for more information.