Yesterday I had a home demo of the Invacare TDX SP.
From the video clip it looked really good, although I had heard it was only available in Red in the UK for some reason. I thought I’d probably be able to get custom colour though and thinking this was the most likely MWD the NHS would have in mind for me with Invacare been their official supplier.
I wanted to try it at home first, as when you pass the driving test for powerchair with NHS, you have to go back to the clinic again to try out some chairs which I felt didn’t tell me whether it would fit through the swing gate or through the A frame thingy at the end of our estate.
I was disappointed at first the man hadn’t brought one with the flip up footplates as requested on the phone (though apparently this was not the person I’d talked to on the phone). I was envisaging having to faff about removing the swing away legrests to get through the gate, but surprisingly I didn’t need to.
As the chair turns in its own axis I just went in diagonally, swung the back end round behind me so the man could move gate across then moved front end out sideways till I could drive straight out. Brilliant!! the chair turns on a dime!
Next I tested it out on the bumpiest path I was worried with the little castors front and back I’d get stuck but the frame is not fixed. It’s hard to explain but the front castors can move upwards or downwards from centre point by about 3″ (the centre point been a completely level surface) so when it hits a small bump the front castors simply lift up and over, this means it can also climb small kerbs without needing a Kerbclimber.
It easily handled the slopes due to the stability lock which keeps all 6 wheels in contact with the ground and the castors abilities to go up or drop down 3″ from level position. I even went up a steep gravel slope thats opposite my home which I wouldn’t have dared attempt in the Vibe as that wheelies just going over the speed bumps in the road! It was much easier to keep in a straight line even when I did the max speed down the hill which I think he said was set about 6.5mph. On the Genie I could only keep it straight on lower speed with back castors locked so they didnt spin as fast, but it still ‘fish tailed’ when I went up to 4mph which was the top speed on that.
When we first tried through the A frame, the arm rests were getting wedged as I was having to go in at angle to stop the controller getting scuffed, the one he had on was quite large. After he altered arm rests with an allan key and pushed them in as far as they would go I got through very carefully. I will choose a smaller controller when I get mine and also mine will be lower down so the T bar is level with top of arm rest so my hand/arm has support all the way along. This should also then make it easier to get through there.
As the man had only brought a standard joystick I had to put my big foam ball on top so the controller/joystick did seem quite huge and was fixed (not swingaway) so some improvements could be made there.
Indoors it easily made it through the 90 degree angle between the lounge and bedroom doors and the seat riser function would be a great help around the house for hanging laundry out and reach into cupboards.
In the picture above I still had the leg rests on and managed to get into the nearest cupboard to me, with them removed I’d be able to get even closer to the washing machine to reach stuff from the other side.
The legrests are a good angle they don’t seem to stick out as much as on the Vibe and you can alter the angle your legs are at so they can be straight down or more raised if you need them to be.
The man said central footposts are not as comfortable when you need to be in a chair for a long time and the flip up footplates stick out much further in front.
Also other colours are now been introduced as standard over here and Black was mentioned which I like.
This pic shows it with black frame and the seperate flip up footplates which do look like they would stick out more.
As I easily got through the swing gate with the standard swing away leg rests in place and the angle is more adjustable I might stick with the standard ones.
If you order the seat riser it comes with Tilt-in-space or you can have just the Tilt on its own. The adjustable backrest was handy but its another £360 extra ontop of the seat riser and tilt which is £1,540 extra.. which I may have to pay myself if the NHS don’t agree a seat riser is a ‘medical need’
The difference between the tilt and reclining backrest is Tilt moves the whole seat back so your legs are also angled. The reclining backrest feature only moves the back of the chair. Apparently there is a manual back recline but the man said it didnt work as the electric one had been put on this demo model. so I’d have to ask about that at the clinic. As he hadn’t put an head rest on I couldn’t tilt it really back to try resting position as there was no support behind my neck/head.
He also didn’t seem to know how much it was for a custom colour and when the new colours would be standard (I’m guessing they will add blue, black, lime green.. same as US already has) so it depends on how much they would charge and whether black was available as standard by the time I got to ordering mine.
Still my contribution would be under £2,000 if the NHS would agree this is the right chair for me instead of the full cost which he estimated at around £6,500 for the features I wanted/needed on it!
It will cost more than the Genie which stands but that had a few issues that worried me, the only thing worrying me about this chair is whether I can get it in black or pink! I am thinking of going down the route of seperate chair and standing frame rather than standing chair.
As, if NHS cover most of the cost of the TDX and I can drop on a second hand or ex-demo standing frame (so can do an hour a day standing) it will be considerably cheaper for me than having to foot bill for most of the Genie as the NHS would not fund that.
So my next step whilst I am waiting, is to look into some frames that will hold me up in standing position for at least half an hour (have two sessions) and still have use of my arms to play on wii or paint etc whilst standing.