Many wheelchair users experience discomfort from overheating due to long stints of sitting in their chairs. Until now, there has not been an appropriate solution.
The first images of a game-changing cooling wheelchair cushion designed by Staels Design have been released this week.
Staels Design was founded just over a year ago by Corien Staels who first became aware of the cooling problems experienced by wheelchair users whilst writing her undergraduate dissertation 2 years ago.
She discovered that many had to cool themselves in dramatic and unforgiving ways – having to strap ice packs to their bodies or spray themselves with water hoses post-exercise.
Divergently, the WheelAir® is a battery powered, ergonomically designed backrest cushion that cools the user by gently blowing air onto their backs. It combines function with comfort without ever compromising on style. The cushion currently fits all manual active lightweight wheelchairs and the company has big aspirations to eventually provide cooling solutions for all wheelchairs, both power and manual.
Staels Design are close to launching the WheelAir® – but to get there they first need to raise £30,000 through crowdfunding. This campaign will pay for the tooling required to start manufacture.
This much-needed product has recently been tested for the first time by wheelchair users and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Jay Anderson, a multi-disciplined athlete and wheelchair user said after using the WheelAir® last week, “this is the first time I’ve been in the park in the sun without overheating in 20 years. And not only is it adding so much comfort, it is actually attractive!”
Michael Kerr, the double Paralympian wheelchair rugby player and former captain said, “I can’t wait until the WheelAir® is launched. I experience a lot of problems with overheating during games and am glad there is finally going to be an effective solution to this problem without having to resort to being sprayed with water.”
Staels commented, “I am delighted by the positive response to the WheelAir®. It brings us one step closer to improving the comfort of wheelchair users. Heating and cooling are real problems, and not just for athletes. I believe that raising awareness of the issue like we do on our blog is only going to increase the much-needed innovation in the industry.”
Staels Design is currently a finalist in this year’s Scottish Edge, Converge Challenge and Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, all highly acclaimed UK business competitions.
Watch out for their crowdfunding video which features some key Scottish locations and exclusive interviews from wheelchair athletes. The WheelAir® will be available for a 40% discount for the first 48 hours of the campaign launch on Kickstarter on the 1 June. There will also be a launch event for the WheelAir® taking place on the 3 June.
Keep an eye on the Staels Design Twitter page, @StaelsDesign, for updates.