Getting around just got a whole lot easier for spinal cord injury patients at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital.
Just ask Jeff Todd, a 24-year-old computer consultant who has tried them all when it comes to wheelchairs. After 11 months in rehab at the hospital run by Providence Continuing Care Centre, the young man is going home with a specialized titanium wheelchair that he calls “a high performance” outfit.
And now, thanks to a donation from the Rick Hansen Foundation, a brand new model of the super-light wheelchair will be available for others while they go through Rehabilitation.
Todd suffered a spinal cord injury one year ago after “just fooling around. I was trying to do a back flip from one bed to another.”
He has limited use of his hands and arms, for which he is thankful, but a traditional wheelchair puts a tremendous strain on the shoulders.
With this type of wheelchair, “it’s so much easier to get around.”
Todd checked out the new set of wheels with Richard Lenart, an Occupational Therapist at the hospital recently.
“When I was asked what we needed, I asked the clients what would increase their quality of life,” Lenart said. “And there was a common theme: they all wanted a high-performance chair.”
And so he asked.
“I’ve been asking for one of these wheelchairs for five years and here we are,” said a pleased Lenart to applause.
The state of the art wheelchair is ideal for active patients with spinal cord injuries who want to be as mobile as possible.
“It is the only wheelchair of its kind in the hospital so this gives patients a chance to try it out and order one if they like it,” he added.
Another feature of the titanium wheelchair is the ease in which it can be disassembled and transported.
“It can easily go in the back seat of a car,” said Todd.
The purchase of the wheelchair was made possible by a grant for almost $4,400 from the Rick Hansen Foundation as a result of its annual fundraising in Kingston.
Last year the St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital Road to Rehab Team was the highest fundraiser for the annual Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion event, raising $3,450.
Staff partnered with the local Civitan Club in organizing the event.
The spinal cord injury clinic at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital provides rehabilitation and therapy for about 240 spinal cord injury patients in southeastern Ontario.
On Sunday, June 10, people of all ages and abilities will wheel, bike or walk along a designated route to support Rick Hansen’s dream of a brighter future for people living with spinal cord injury.
The 5th annual Rick Hansen Wheels In Motion event, presented by Scotiabank in Kingston, will take place at Kingston Confederation Basin.
Lynn Rees Lambert