Pioneering powerchair allows man to maintain independence and enjoy an active lifestyle
Despite having restricted mobility due to the long-term effects of polio, Alan Norton is the leader of a successful business and enjoys an active lifestyle. He explains how Ottobock’s B400 wheelchair has helped him maintain independence.
At the age of three, Alan contracted polio and remained in hospital until he was 14. As a result of the devastating impact of the illness, Alan’s mobility was severely affected and he had to use callipers to get around.
When he was 15, he decided that using a wheelchair would give him the best chance of independence. He initially used a manual wheelchair, before being selected for an NHS pilot programme for electric wheelchairs.
“It just gave me life. For the first time, if I forgot something and had to go back for it, it wasn’t the end of the world,” Alan said. He also added that the electric wheelchair made day-to-day tasks more manageable.
When he finished school, Alan got a job with a local technology company, where he worked for 33 years. He has also helped people in his community, including running a Resource Centre for disabled people and starting a Shopmobility scheme in his local town centre.
In addition, Alan’s company “Into Independence” provides training programmes, access audits and other consultancy services to healthcare and commercial organisations, working closely with manufacturers, healthcare professionals, universities and disabled people.
During which time he established a successful career, Alan used his first electric wheelchair for over 20 years. However, as a full-time wheelchair user, he struggled at times with transferring to and from his wheelchair.
Searching for a solution to allow easier transfers, Alan started to use the Ottobock B400 wheelchair.
“The Ottobock chair did everything I wanted it to, it was so adjustable,” he said. “I can make transfers so much more easily as the arm rests can be moved. It’s one of the few wheelchairs that can be changed and adapted to make it fit you.”
Alan has found the B400 has helped him maintain an active lifestyle as well as enjoy days out and travel regularly. “The performance and range are fantastic. Ottobock obviously listen to their users and understand what their needs are,” he added.
Due to its reliability and good battery life, Alan said he feels more confident and reassured, commenting that one time he went away for three days and forgot to pack his charger, but the battery lasted.
Additionally, Alan feels more confident negotiating different surfaces in the new wheelchair. When he previously came close to a camber in the pavement, he would worry about losing control and ending up in the road by accident, but is assured the B400 will stay on track.
Another unexpected benefit the powerchair provides is the reduction in home maintenance costs. “The bungalow where I live has some tight corners and I previously had to redecorate all the time where my wheelchair scratched and scraped on the walls and doors,” Alan commented. “With the B400, it’s a solid chair but it’s highly manoeuvrable, meaning I can easily get around my home and out in the wider world.”
The B400 has also helped Alan enjoy a range of activities, from shopping to travelling, finding that the way in which the height of the wheelchair can be raised and lowered helps on overnight trips, as hotel beds vary in height. The height adjustment feature also ensures more independence because Alan does not have to rely on others to reach for things on higher shelves in supermarkets.
Alan concluded: “It has changed my life. It has added another dimension to my life and has improved my independence. It has taken a lot of the hard work out of the areas that I had trouble with and where I was wearing myself out before.
“I wouldn’t be without it, I have tried other chairs and they don’t come close to it.”
Founded in 1976, Ottobock is a supplier of high-quality, innovative and practical solutions that give people independence and greater mobility. The company produces a range of medical equipment including, prosthetics, orthotics, wheelchairs, rehabilitation and mobility devices.