I saw this yesterday, and I’ve been fantasizing ever since – the SmartDrive, from MaxMobility. Take a look:
This looks like so much fun! It’s pricey; at $6000, it costs more than most manual wheelchairs. But the SmartDrive does have FDA approval, so it is likely covered by most insurance with the right prescription (information and downloadable forms here). It is a remarkable device, well designed with the wheeler firmly in mind. The SmartDrive addresses most wheelchair issues – hill/ramp climbing, wheeling over grass, carpet and other moderately rough terrain, it is easy to install and remove, it works on foldable and fixed frame chairs. The controls are intuitive – either using the same starting and stopping we’re used to with the hand rims, or with the bluetooth wristband. It is lightweight, compact and waterproof. It combines the portability of a manual chair with the ease and, dare I say it again, the fun of a power chair. (Remember fun?)
Perhaps most important (and this is key for insurance coverage), the SmartDrive will vastly reduce the number of pushes on the rims, essentially eliminating the danger of wrist, elbow and shoulder injury.
Granted, I have not used or even seen this kerjigger. I’m basing all of this on the MaxMobility web site. It is nearly impossible to test drive things like this without actually buying it, and then returning it if it’s not what you want. If you are very lucky, you might live near a dealer or get the chance to see it at a trade show like The Abilities Expo.
Pardon my gushing, but I’m seeing the future of personal mobility.