Monthly Archives: August 2014

Wheelchair Maneuvering in a Crowd

rock concert

Wheelchairs may be incredibly handy devices, but in one area they completely fail is getting through crowds. Wheelchairs are low to the ground and square, meaning they’re terribly difficult to get through crowds full of tall upright beings.

The main reason being is well, people rarely look down and notice us. It’s a terrible state of affairs, and you don’t have to be in a wheelchair long to experience this. Just spend 5 minutes in an area thick with humans and you’ll see just how invisible we are (to some).

Unfortunately…this means anywhere that’s crowded – concerts, festivals, work events, school events – we have a tough go at it. But there’s good news. We can learn how to get through a crowd without being frazzled.

To become a connoisseur of crowds on wheels, check out our three videos below!

Video #1: Riding a Crowded London Bus

Our first video is where no one in a wheelchair ever wants to be – on a crowded public city bus at rush hour – and this video comes from a wheelchair-user in London with cerebral palsy doing just that.

In this video, you see several strollers taking up the wheelchair accessible spaces on the bus, forcing her to park her wheelchair in the exit, which is a serious fire hazard.

Things gets even worse when she has to exit the bus briefly to let the strollers out and the bus driver doesn’t realize she exited, and tries to bring up the ramp while she is still on it (scary!).

Watch: Trying to get to Wembley job centre on public transport in a wheelchair

Video #2: Surf Over Those Walkers

If you use a power wheelchair and go to concerts, you know how hard it can be getting through those alcohol-soaked music, lovin’ crowds. Even when you use a manual wheelchair it’s difficult. When you’re lower than everyone else in the venue, you are invisible.

While the party atmosphere definitely doesn’t help in people noticing us, this video reveals another cool thing that can happen when you’re at certain shows and the crowds are too much (yet the concertgoers feel for you; you would never see this at a jazz concert) – wheelchair crowd surfing.

Watch: Guy in a 300lb+ Permobile powerchair crowd surfs at a metal concert

Video #3: All We See Is a Sea of Butts

Another big pet-peeve of wheelchair-users is the constant view we get wherever we go, and it can be really good or really bad depending on who you’re looking at – people’s backsides. And it gets really dicey when you’re in a crowd. Sometimes you wish your wheelchair just came with blinders.

In this short first-person perspective from a wheelchair user, you get to be a voyeur and see what it’s like to be in a wheelchair while being pushed through a busy European street. People pass left and right, avoiding eye contact, but it doesn’t matter, all you can see is their butt or crotch anyways. heh.

Watch: View of Crowds from a Wheelchair

Love them or hate them, crowds are a fact of life, but now that you’re a wheelchair user don’t let them stop by. It may take a horn to get through the sea of people, but it’s worth it if you can get out and life your life just as you want it.

How do you get through a crowd in a wheelchair?

Watch the videos!

British woman tries to use busy public transport in London in her powerchair

Guy in a powerchair crowd surfs at a metal concert

View of a busy European crowd from a wheelchair

SCI Superstar: Claes Hulting

claes

Considered by many as the Christopher Reeve of Sweden, Claes Hulting since his injury has dedicated his life to promoting enhanced rehabilitation and research of spinal cord injuries. And what he’s created, Spinalis, a cutting edge rehab facility in Sweden, is admired around the globe.

Being the founder of an amazing foundation is just one thing Claes is known for too. He’s also a physician (he worked as an anesthesiologist before his injury) and is in the history books for being the first person with a spinal cord injury to have a child via in-vitro fertilization (a son who’s now turning 18!).

To learn more about a man who can be credited for helping thousands of people with spinal cord injuries live healthier and fuller lives, this is the story of Claes Hulting.

Why he’s fearless

In 1984, a dive from a jetty off the coast of Sweden is the beginning of Claes’ SCI journey. At the time – he was engaged and working as an anesthesiologist – life was perfect. But while vacationing with friends, they took a sauna and Claes decided to dive in the ocean afterwards, hitting his head and becoming a C5-6 quad.

Doctors back then were ignorant, and didn’t want him to get married, saying, “You are going to be a vegetable for the rest of your life.” Needless to say this angered Claes deeply, and it was the precipice for him to fight against how people with spinal cord injuries were rehabilitated and treated in Sweden. At the time of his injury, no rehab for people of spinal cord injuries existed in Sweden except the basics.

Claes, who hails from a bohemian family that has always been interested in improving society, took this as the opportunity to change a bad change situation, and he did so with the help of others who were also affected by spinal cord injury. But first, Claes became the first man with a spinal cord injury to get his wife pregnant using in-vitro.

Next, in 1990, he founded Spinalis, an organization funded by three large corporations in Sweden. Government funding wasn’t available, so they went the corporate route. And so far it’s been successful. Claes created Spinalis with the idea that it would one day be the best rehabilitation facility for people spinal cord injuries in the entire world, and it’s close.

Since it was founded in 1990, the Spinalis campus is unrivaled among most rehab centers in the world. The facility, designed to be bright like the Google headquarters, contains around 30 rooms, cutting edge rehab facilities and even has a “garage” where patients can build and tinker (not do lame macrame).

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Spinalis though is the fact that it’s a philosophical- based rehab, equally focusing on the patient’s heart and soul, as well as their bodies, and teaching them how to carry on with life without feeling pressured to fully accept their situations

What’s next?

Spinalis is thriving more than ever, more than 24 years later. Claes recently moved the focus of Spinalis on Australia, a country that could use some improvement in how they treat and aid individuals with SCI. He is heavily promoting the need for SCI research while he’s down under too.

Speaking is another area Claes is checking out. Talking about the importance of a lust for life is near and dear to his heart (and is something he spoke on for TEDx earlier this year; watch), all as he continues his quest for rising the standard of SCI rehab around the globe.

Have you been to Spinalis?

– Check it out: Spinalis

Watch the videos!

Lust for life: Claes Hultling at TEDxKTH

Claes Hultling, Spinalis Foundation, om rehabilitering av ryggmÀrgskador i Botswana (english subtitles)

Spinalishandboken – Richard Levi & Claes Hultling