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    Wheelchairs Now

    Don't call WHILL a "wheelchair"!

     Whill Models in White and Black

    Imagine meeting a man in a wheelchair and having that man tell you that he no longer wish to go to the grocery store because of the way people looked at him.  What person wouldn't be overwhelmed with empathy and compassion, but what would you do? Most people would feel sorry for that man but they would move on with their day.  

    Satoshi Sugie isn't like most people.  A former engineer at Nissan, he was the one who met that man in the wheelchair.  Overwhelmed with a sense of duty, he developed a mobility device that would could possibly remove the negative stigma that disabled people are so used to.  With the help of his two friends, Junpei Naito, a product engineer with Sony, and Muneaki Fukuoka, an engineer with Olympus.  The three came up with WHILL.  It's a chair with wheels but don't call it a "wheelchair".  The company says they build "omnidirectional four-wheeled-drive mobility device".  Their WHILL Model A is also not considered to be a medical device and has not been submitted to the FDA for review or clearance, but this hasn't stopped the investors. WHILL has already raised over $12.85 million in funding.

    Although not covered by insurance, the company has taken about 50 preorders at a price of $9,500 per chair.  Their Model A chair can reach speeds of up to 5.5 miles per hour and travel up to 12 miles per battery charge.  The four-wheel drive enables the device to maneuver rough terrain that most other wheelchairs couldn't.  What makes WHILL so unique are the front wheels, which WHILL calls "omni-wheels" or "gliding wheels".  The front wheels are comprised of a main wheel, which are wrapped by 24 small tires that turn independently, and gives the device a tight turning radius by being able to glide sideways.  

    While the Model Type-A is considered to be a non-medical device (which means it is not FDA-cleared), WHILL plans to have their future models cleared as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be eligible for insurance coverage, such as Medicare/Medicaid. To increase production, the company is currently talking with their original equipment manufacturers in Mexico and Taiwan. They've also added a smart phone app that lets you remote control your WHILL.

    So the question is will people shell out close to 5 figures for a mobility device?  Bill Meehan loves the portability of the EZ Lite Cruiser, but also has a WHILL. He had told us about his recent interview with CNN to discuss his WHILL. 

    EZ Lite Cruiser sponsors Marco Dispaltro

    Marco Dispaltro

    EZ Lite Cruiser was a proud sponsor of Marco Dispaltro for the 2015 Parapan Am Games held in Toronto, Canada. Close to 1,600 Athletes and 250,000 visitors from around the world converged on Toronto for the Pam Am/Parapan Am Games from August 7th to the 15th. Marco holds a #1 world ranking in his classification before entering the 2015 season, while being almost twice the age of most of his competitors.  Some in the boccia ball circuit even call him the "Intimidator", being that he is a world champion and likely the most resented man in wheelchair boccia.  

    Dispaltro actually got his start in sports with wheelchair rugby and tennis, but his Becker Muscular Dystrophy (diagnosed at age 14) sidelined those activities.  It's a degenerative condition that has taken away his triceps, biceps, abdominal, shoulder and leg muscles.  Nothing, though, has taken his competitiveness and will to win.  The 47 year-old started boccia in 2010 and won the silver in singles at the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Guadalajara Mexico.  He then won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympics in the mixed pairs category.  

    The Opening Ceremony was held on August 7th, 2015 at the CIBC Pan Am / Parapan Am Athletics Stadium at York University, the same stadium where the track and field events occurred.  24 Nations in total competed at this year's games. A colourful and energetic Opening Ceremony, celebrating the unity of cultures of the continent, the flag of the host country was raised by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police. Canada’s heritage was on show throughout the duration of the event, celebrating the country’s four ancestral nations - The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Huron-Wendat First Nation, the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Métis Nation of Ontario.

    Check out Dispalto bearing the Canadian flag during the opening ceremony on his EZ Lite Cruiser.

     Marco Dispaltro Leading Team Canada

    Marco went onto win the silver medal in the mixed pairs group for Boccia Ball.  Canada finished 2nd overall for Boccia Ball, and also finished second overall in the Parapan Am Games with 168 Medals (50 Gold, 63 Silver, and 55 Bronze).

    Check out 17 astonishing shots from the 2015 Parapan Am Games

    Historical Facts, Figures, and the Future of Wheelchair Usage

    EZ Lite Cruiser has released an infographic that visualizes the history, figures, fun facts, and the future of wheelchair usage.

    Historical Facts

    ***The earliest records of wheeled chairs occur in Chinese art, at around 525 CE.

    ***The first wheelchair patent was issued in the United States in 1869, the same year the first plastic was patented by John Wesley Hyatt

    ***First motorized wheelchair was manufactured in London in 1916

    ***Harry Jennings and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, both mechanical engineers, invented the first lightweight, steel,
    collapsible wheelchair in 1933. Everest had broken his back in a mining accident.
    Everest and Jennings were the first company to mass-produce wheelchairs

    Facts and Figures

    ***According to the US Census Bureau, there is an estimated 3.6 Million wheelchair users (15 years or older), and the numbers grow daily.

    ***1.825 Million wheelchair users in the US are 65 or older

    ***By 2035, 1.1 Billion people globally (13% of the world's population) will be 65 or older

    Random Fun Facts

    ***Top 5 Cities in the United States for Wheelchair Living According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, in ranked order:
    1. Seattle, Washington
    2. Albuquerque, New Mexico
    3. Reno, Nevada
    4. Denver, Colorado
    5. Portland, Oregon

    ***New York City's MTA buses are ALL wheelchair accessible

    ***Nearly 50% of people use a wheelchair temporarily or post surgically.

    Future of Electric Wheelchairs

    The global electric wheelchair market is estimated to witness robust growth through 2025.
    North America region led the market in 2014 in terms of highest demand.
    In US, the government provides medical insurance to people over the age of 65,
    which helps the increasing elderly population to get medical facilities at subsidized rates.