Wheelchair Manufacturers on WC 19

Q&A About Their Current & Future Crash-Testing Plans
Q: Why does your company choose to crash-test its chairs?

A: Phil Mundy, PDG — We have chosen to crash test all wheelchairs we manufacture since we feel it is the right thing to do for our customers’ safety, and it also makes good business sense.

A: Mark E. Smith, Quantum Rehab — Consumers with disabilities today live independent, successful lives, and transportation is a vital aspect. To get to school and work or all other aspects of independent living, many that use wheelchairs rely on vehicle transport. Quantum Rehab is dedicated to meeting the needs of our active rehab clients with WC 19-compliant models so they can continue to stay active whether they are driving themselves or using public transportation. For example, if you’re a 30-year-old business professional, you need your wheelchair to keep up with your lifestyle, which means safely going where you need, when you need to. Likewise, a 10-year-old may ride an accessible school bus each day, requiring a WC 19-compliant wheelchair. So, it’s important to us to create safer, WC 19-compliant wheelchairs to meet the demands of today’s lifestyles.

A: Julie Jackson, Invacare Corp. — Invacare chooses to crash-test our custom power and custom manual wheelchair models for adults and pediatric clients. We realize the importance for our customers to have the ability to tie their wheelchair down in a motor vehicle. For this reason, we choose to crash-test to WC 19.

A: Sue Johnson, Convaid — We know that our chairs are used as seats in motor vehicles, i.e., vans and buses, during transportation, and we care about our users’ safety. And because of our concern with safety, we emphasize the importance of WC 19 crash-testing throughout our product line by offering crash-tested models in all sizes.
A: Julie Jacono, Sunrise Medical — We feel that WC 19 testing provides a base line of safe transportation. While the primary use is in pediatrics, many adult chairs are also tested to allow for public- transport usage.

Q: What are your future crash-testing plans for new wheelchairs you’ll offer? If your plans are changing, why?

A: Julie Jacono, Sunrise Medical — We will test a similar number of chairs and categories going forward.

A: Julie Jackson, Invacare Corp. — Invacare will continue to crash-test new wheelchair models to WC 19.

A: Mark E. Smith, Quantum Rehab — We unquestionably see crash-testing and WC 19 compliance as an important role in future wheelchair development. Again, active consumers demand transit-ready wheelchairs. It’s our goal to continue to meet their needs with successfully crash-tested products. We are also currently in the process of making modifications to and crash-testing existing power bases in our power chair lineup, as people with disabilities continue making tremendous inroads toward employment, education and independent living, so the demand for WC 19-compliant wheelchairs will continue to correspondingly increase.

A: Phil Mundy, PDG — We see no change in our policy of testing all chairs. While this exercise is expensive and time consuming, we believe it adds credibility to our products.

A: Sue Johnson, Convaid — We plan to offer a crash-tested version of all of our models (except specific ultra-lightweight, small-size models) in the future. The current draft standard of WC 19 requires crash-testing of all chairs for kids under 50 lbs. with a wheelchair-mounted, 5-point harness, as is recommended by the experts. In anticipation of this change, we have crash-tested our small Cruiser and EZ Rider models with an integrated, crash-tested 5-point harness. We plan to continue to crash-test the rest of our small models, as well as any new chairs in that weight capacity range, with this system. All new Convaid chairs are designed with WC 19 crash-testing in mind, and we will continue to test and offer transit models in the future.

Manufacturer Q&A: WC 19 Offerings

Q: Which of your wheelchairs have passed crash testing to current WC 19 standards?*

Julie Jackson, Invacare Corp.: 3G Storm Series (Arrow, Ranger X, Torque SP and Torque 3); TDX Series (TDX SR, TDX SP, TDX SI, TDX SC, TDX Spree, TDX 5, TDX 4, TDX 3, TDX 3 SE); Pronto M91, Pronto M71, Pronto M71 Jr., Pronto M51 with rehab seating; Solara 2G; Compass XE; ProSPIN X4; Spree GT, Spree XT, Spree XT Ltd.

Julie Jacono, Sunrise Medical: Quickie 2 Kids, Zippie 2, Zippie 2 GS, Zippie IRIS, Zippie TS, Zippie Z-Bop, Zippie Z-500 (pediatric chairs); Quickie 2, Quickie 2 HP, Quickie 2 HD, Quickie IRIS, Quickie S-525, Quickie Rhythm, Quickie Groove (adult chairs).

Sue Johnson, Convaid: Cruiser, EZ Rider, Safari, Rodeo, CuddleBug, Convertible, Scout, Profiler, Mountee, Metro transit models.

Phil Mundy, PDG Product Design Group: Astrotilt, Astrotilt Jr.; Bentley; Eclipse; Fuze T20 and Fuze T50; Stellar.

Mark E. Smith, Quantum Rehab: Q6000Z and Litestream XF ultralight with WC 19 transit packages.

Jim Ernst, PaceSaver: We do not offer any units tested to the WC 19 standard. Leisure-Lift has been a long-time opponent of crash-test ratings and the use of mobility devices in vehicles as seats. While we understand that individuals wish to be mobile in their chairs, the forces are so great that we do not feel any current wheelchair can truly stand up to the rigors of a real crash (given all the variables that may NOT have been tested) and (believe that) the false sense of safety that “test standards” may create could be harmful. We do equip our units with tie-downs, but have no arrangements for people to remain in the chairs and discourage it whole-heartedly. We do agree that designing units to withstand the rigors of a crash may help prevent injuries from flying parts and debris, but do not think units will adequately protect users in the chairs… We deal mainly with bariatric units, and there are no adequate standards for bariatric (chairs). What a chair might do with a 150-lb. crash-test dummy is markedly different than that of a 600-lb. person.

*Wheelchair names given here were self-reported by interviewees and do not constitute the entire industry list of WC 19-tested chairs. Please consult other manufacturers directly regarding their WC 19 policies and offerings. Go to www.rercwts.pitt.edu, click on WC 19, then Consumers for more listings of crash-tested wheelchairs.

This article originally appeared in the Drive!/NMEDA supplement: February 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

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