If you've been following my blog for a while now, you will know that I LOVE to push the boundaries by trying new and exciting things.
So when the guys at Permobil recently reached out and asked whether I'd like to trial one of their powerchairs for a week, obviously I said YES!
However, this was not just any ol' 4 wheeled wagon... I opted to test the F5 VS with standing ability.
Pretty cool, huh?
People often forget that my wheelchair is essentially my legs. You may enjoy buying a new pair of shoes, whereas I prefer a fresh set of tyres.
As some of you may already know, I have a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA Type 2) which causes progressive muscle weakness. I lost my ability to walk when I was around 15 years old and I now rely solely on my powerchair to live as much of an independent life as possible.
Sitting down 24/7 may have it's perks, but it can also cause many other issues for disabled people. So being able to review a chair that enables me to stand so freely, was a very exciting prospect.
Here are a couple of videos to see the chair in action - both inside and outside. Of course Ralphy had to get involved on the way back down...
I love the overall aesthetic of this powerchair. It looks really smart and it's definitely comfortable to sit in. Compared to my regular chair the F5 VS is a lot faster (which I obviously love!) and it's agile suspension provides a very smooth ride.
I've never experienced a powerchair with front-wheel-drive before, so this was definitely a challenge for me... it's a miracle that my door frames are still in tact!
In terms of "standing ability" - what an amazing piece of kit. The great thing about this feature is the fact you have full control over how far you wish to extend, and at what speed.
It may take a little bit of time to build your confidence and trust in the chair, however I cannot fault it's safety. With knee supports in place and a chest bar for extra precaution, I felt very secure - so I guess I'll be the one standing to order drinks at the bar next time!
As well as having the option to stand, the F5 VS also comes with a "riser" seat elevation.
I have used a riser on my current wheelchair for many years now and absolutely love it. Not only does it make life that little bit easier to reach things, for example in supermarkets or around the house, but I also find it helps with social interactions.
I can't be the only one who gets a stiff neck from looking up all the time. Sometimes it's just nice to be on a similar eye level with people, or at least spook them out when you go from being a short-ass, to 6ft tall.
"HOW DID YOU GET UP THERE?!"
The great thing about the F5 VS is the flexibility it has to reposition. Throughout the day, I have been able to adjust myself multiple times, in order to maximise comfort and control pressure relief. For instance, by reclining the backrest into a more laid back position.
Getting out of my powerchair and into bed at the end of a long day is a massive relief, in order to change positions and relax different muscles. I can only imagine it being the same sensation that women get as they take off their bra, haha.
Attention to detail is key and as a full-time wheelchair user, nothing is more important than your own comfort / safety. So with that in mind, here are some of my favourite additional features on the F5 VS:
• Memory function - the ability to log your 3 favourite seating positions
• Adjustable knee supports, chest bar and headrest - all easily removable
• Motorised footrests with adjustable height / length
• Mushroom-style joystick - great for those with weaker grip
• Adjustable arm rests - also lifting upwards and out of the way for ease with transfers
• Swing-away controller arm - enabling closer contact to surfaces
• LED lights (front & back) - including indicators and hazards
• Storage bags either side - great for holding essential items such as your phone / wallet
• Personalisation - choose from a large range of chassis colours
Here's a short little video to see some of these features in action:
Last but not least, I wanted to give a special mention to the MyPermobil app. It's no secret that I love a good gadget, and this app has certainly provided me with more entertainment over this past week than Tinder.
Not only is the app free to download, but it also connects to your wheelchair via bluetooth. From this, you are then able to monitor various functions such as your wheelchair's battery life, mileage and the angle of your seating position, per degree.
How cool is that?!
I love this feature so much, as I often worry about my battery life when out and about. Knowing an exact percentage provides me with ease of mind, as well as a rough guide as to how many hours use / kilometres I have left to travel.
I honestly can't stress enough how much I love this app, which puts Permobil miles ahead of their other competitors.
Overall I am so impressed with the quality, design and general functions of this powerchair. I truly believe that we are heading towards a more accessible future and I hope to see many more advances in technology like this.
I can definitely see why this powerchair is a popular choice for people at special events such as weddings or concerts.
It's important to note that everybody's needs are different, and I'm fully aware that what might work well for me, may not suit somebody else. However the great thing about this powerchair is that it can be easily customised.
I'm the first to admit that I'm a creature of habit and don't usually like change, so this was definitely a positive experience for me that I will never forget.
Having the ability to stand anywhere and everywhere is something that most people take for granted, so I hope you can appreciate my excitement for this post.
I'd just like to say a massive thank you to Permobil for allowing me the opportunity to trial this chair, and for being so friendly and supportive behind the scenes.
For more information about the F5 VS or any other Permobil wheelchairs, please check out their website.
And on that note, I'mma let Elton sing us out...
This post is in paid partnership with Permobil UK. As always, my opinions are entirely my own.