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Wheelchair Safety

Safety in Stability

Tipping forward is the most common cause of injury for wheelchair riders in the US.  In developing countries, poor or unpaved roads make the problem worse. Whirlwind takes safety very seriously. Our ultra-stable long wheel base design almost eliminates the risk of falling forward, even while rolling off of curbs without ramps. 

Safety in Fit

Like any medical device, even a well-designed wheelchair must be properly fitted to the rider by a trained care provider, to ensure the chair is fitted to the rider’s body size and adjusted properly to provide critical postural support. Secondary injury from a poorly fitted or broken wheelchair can have extreme negative health side effects for the user. New spinal deformities can arise from long hours seated in a chair that does not support the contour of the spine. Joint problems can result from poor ergonomics, which can leave the rider unable to move independently. Also, new limb distortions often result from ill-fitting chairs. Whirlwind provides users with individually fitted wheelchairs with multiple widths and back support heights. Whirlwind supports wheelchair providers with a service delivery manual, referrals to local partners and a user’s manual to guide the chair provider with the correct fitting information for wheelchair users.

Safety in Proper Cushioning

A wheelchair provided without a cushion is really only half a chair. Wheelchairs without seat cushions can cause open pressure sores on the skin which are opportunities for life threatening infections.  Sadly, in Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010, many survivors with severe injuries later died not from their initial injuries, but from pressure sores.  Pressure management techniques, like turning patients in their beds and providing good pressure relief cushions, were often not in use. 

Recovering from a pressure sore sometimes requires months of bed rest. Without FDA or similar government regulators, developing world riders are not protected by medical devices standards. To address this concern, in 2009 Whirlwind released an initial design for a pressure relief cushion into the public domain so that wheelchair builders and riders can work together to find the best available materials and develop better designs.