To the Paraplegia Community:
I had the important opportunity to try out the TEK mobilization device last night. You should have already seen the video referenced below. I was visited by Dan Niccum , the company executive/CEO, and his assistant, who brought the unit down from their home office in Roseville, CA, some 400+ miles away. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable and helpful. It is everything that the promotional video says it is. The company / inventor in Turkey has thought of everything, and the controls are quite clever, comprehensive, and “cool.” They are intuitive, and my learning curve was quite rapid. Inside of five or ten minutes I was getting on and off the unit, standing up and sitting down, and “rolling” around my home. He told me I was one of the first “new people” to try out the unit.
There is a small portable remote hand control, which moves the unit independently by itself, without the user being in it. Thus, after the unit brings me to my bed and sits me down, I can direct the “empty” unit to park across the room, awaiting my recall as needed. The mechanism is quite sophisticated. I placed my feet in the “feet stirrups/plates, ” easily fastened the sturdy pad, on which I was then sitting, to the unit with the straps provided, and with the aid of the built-in spring system, I “stood up” to a standing position while the TEK unit held me in place. I then rode the unit around my home, into my dressing room, bathroom, and kitchen, while standing, and also went down and up the single inside ramp in my home, without difficulty. Then I “sat down” in a chair in my dining room by reversing the process. An important function for me is getting in and out of bed, and in this activity there is a clever mechanism for moving the “sitting pad” into the correct position while sitting on the bed, without my needing to move it myself into the correct functional position.
The unit will be commercially available early 2016. Every unit is customized for the individual user, as is the case with many/most mobility devices. Innovations Health is developing representatives in various cities, who can carry out the customization. He promised prompt servicing – within 24 hours—should any adjustments or help be needed. Clearly the company is committed to making this work, as promised [and delivered to me], during the two-hour trial last night. This TEK unit has an entirely new and novel way of moving us paraplegic folks from place to place, entirely different than any unit I’ve seen [I currently own six different scooters].
Specifically this one gets me in and out of bed without my need to pull myself up, very important to me since I also have torn rotator cuffs I both shoulders, since functionally I resemble a quad in terms of mobility. Pulling myself up and down makes my shoulders hurt, and this unit will minimize any further damage to my shoulders. The second critical area of importance is our need to be “standing” [be upright] for at least an hour a day, to promote bone health, circulation [venous in particular], as well as to reach all those things ‘up high’ that were formerly not accessible. Standing up from a sitting position was easy and quick. “My, look at all these dishes up here that I could never reach by myself, before.” I was standing upright without any difficulty for at least 15 to 30 minutes, a 10-year time-record for me, where the previous standing was brief, while transferring in the bathroom or to/from scooters or my driver’s seat in the car.
The unit’s first intention/goal was for folks with spinal cord injuries. The MS community has recently discovered this unit as well. Our people with PLS and HSP have not been in the mainstream of users, until now, when I hope we all have a chance to see one and try it out. Important additional aspects you need to understand: insurance coverage / assistance would usually need to be thoroughly investigated. The cost is about 20K. The unique functions and qualities of this new unit are to pick you up from a sitting position, stand you up, allow you to ride around while standing and carry out “standing functions,” then sit you down somewhere, e.g. into a chair. It remains nearby to pick you up again, to go somewhere else. You simply use the remote to bring it back to you. One important area is the interface with a scooter, if you use one, since the TEK needs to “back up” with you “sitting” in it up to the front of the scooter, and then lower you down, so you are sitting in the scooter….an example might be if I wanted to transfer and then ride in my scooter out to get into my car. Yes, of course this unit will take you outside/anywhere, but there needs to be a seat when you get there / where the unit sits you down again, when /if you need to sit down again. Some of us use a Rollator or similar device, and the company rep needs to specifically determine how to get you in and out /transfer to / from any other mobility device that you need/like to use. It needs to “park you” right in front of a chair, your scooter seat, or another seating device/area, wherever you wish to sit down. The company is clearly committed to making it work, and customizing it, as needed, to fulfill each user’s needs and preferences. As noted, various adjustments to the TEK unit are made when you first get the new unit, so your body fits properly and it is thus easy to use.
My learning curve was very rapid; after 15 minutes I was rolling around my home. I am also going to look at a new clever scooter, the Whill, also distributed by Innovations Health [check their website], which has several advantages: short 28” turning radius ideal for tight spaces, rides on various surfaces/ goes up/down a three-inch curb/step, and also interfaces perfectly with the TEK unit. They are coming back to LA next month, with one of the new scooters, and I told them I’d probably want them to drive back home with an empty van, with the new scooter left here with me. It has significant advantages over my current scooters.
I told them to send me a contract for the TEK unit and I would send them the deposit, for subsequent delivery. The TEK unit is a revolution in handicap mobility. Even if it simply allowed me to stand for an hour a day it would be worth having; even if just getting me in and out of bed without the need to pull myself up and down it would be worth it. And I can ride around my home while standing. Since this invention is new, I will need to add a few gimmicks, such as a cup holder, a writing tray or board in front of me, and perhaps even a small shelf for a laptop. In the video it shows the user being able to function in various activities, while standing, and having these attachments will facilitate that. Does this mean I can now conduct a symphony orchestra, while standing? Yup!!
My new TEK unit will arrive early 2016, and I’ll submit follow-up reports to you. Incidentally both my daughters were here during the demo, and my granddaughter took photos and videos of the process. I probably can’t attach them to emails here, but if you send me your email address, I will forward a few stills and a video for you to watch. Specifically they also brought their Wijit device, handles which attach to a wheelchair and use to and fro arm movements that make it much easier to move; there is a significant mechanical advantage. See the inside front cover of this month’s New Mobility magazine for a full page spread describing the Wijit lever-drive and braking system for wheelchairs. My daughter, who also has HSP, tried it out and wants one.
Thanks for reading/listening. Please contact me if any questions. It occurs to me just now that in my new role as a medical writer for “Synapse” magazine, I may adapt this email to an article.
Malin Dollinger, M.D.
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