EXTRA: Made to measure sports wheelchair for a better performance
EXTRA: Made to measure sports wheelchair for a better performance
Solid and adapted – this is how auxiliary means for competitive sports such as wheelchair basketball should be. That's why EXTRA wheelchairs from Turkey offers made to measure sports wheelchairs to professional sports people. REHACARE.com talked to Demirhan Serefhan, Managing Director of EXTRA Wheelchairs, about the importance of customization and valuable feedback directly from the basketball court.
Özgür Gürbulak (below left) has already been convinced by EXTRA Wheelchairs. The Turkish national player, who became European champion with his team in 2017, relies on the light and indestructible wheelchair from his own country as well as Cem Gezinci (up left), and tennis player Ugur Altinel.
Mr. Serefhan, what is special about your basketball wheelchair, EXTRA?
Demirhan Serefhan: Sports like wheelchair basketball are very tough. Wheelchair basketball is one of the most difficult sports among the Paralympic sports. The players want to be very fast and they don’t want their wheelchairs to get damaged so easily. When you look from their way of thinking, you have to make a wheelchair which is very strong, light and fast. Therefore, we are using a very special aluminium grade which is also used at aeronautical engineering. The type of the aluminium is called "Aluminium 7020". We are shaping those aluminium tubes and plates in accordance with the specific body measures of the user. This method is called "Made to Measure" or "Tailor Made". We are proceeding a very special heat treatment after the final welding. This heat treatment process is very special and unique. Sometimes it is said that aluminium 7020 T6 does not need heat treatment, but we are applying our own methods and the wheelchairs become much stronger. There are so many players who are over 130 kg and couldn’t succeed to break EXTRA wheelchairs.
In addition, we are working with Spinergy, a company for high quality wheels, and manufacturing our own breathable and strong upholstery. Users mostly require an embroidery at the back of the wheelchair. This can be their motto, their name, a logo or a number. This option is free of charge at EXTRA. Actually, most of the options are included in the total price of the wheelchair, i.e. the carbon underseat plate, carbon footrest, straps, ergonomic seating, two antitips and so on. We do not charge those options as an extra cost for the users. We want our clients to have access to a high-quality product with a reasonable price.
Demirhan Serefhan – who is also looking for distributors worldwide for EXTRA Wheelchairs.
So the sports wheelchair is completely adapted to the respective person?
Serefhan: We have an order form where there are so many different points of the user to be measured. Our experts are taking the measurements especially at the sports halls. We want the user to sit on the wheelchair that he or she is currently using or to borrow the most convenient wheelchair, from one of their friends. Before starting the measurement, we want them to use the wheelchair on the court. This is very important, because we have to see how fast they are, how they make the turns, how they push the wheels, how they take the rebounds and how they shoot the ball. We also want their coach to be with us to have some more feedback about the player and to listen the future planning for the player where their coach wants them to be.
The wheelchair should function as if they belong to the body of the users. It should follow the movement of the users. Sometimes I say that the wheelchair should have an advanced sense to feel the next drill of the player. For those reasons, we are having the necessary measurements of the users to build up the most adequate wheelchair. If the users want, they can come to our facilities and try the wheelchair before the heat treatment, enabling us to make some changes if required before giving the final shape.
Why is such customization so important?
Serefhan: We don’t see the disabled athletes as they are disabled. They are athletes, that’s all. They need special adapted instruments to make their sports life more joyful and maybe more successful. In order not to cause any problems at this perspective they have to use the most appropriate wheelchairs at daily life and at sports. A user can buy the most expensive wheelchair, but if the measurement was not done properly the wheelchair is garbage. The wheelchair should function like a part of the user’s body.
To what extent are the future users themselves involved in the product development?
Serefhan: We are manufacturing EXTRA since the last quarter of 2018. We have all the ISO standards and the certificates like Capacity Report, Industrial Registration Certificate, Production Certificate and so on. These certificates are not so easy to be obtained. They are being given after special technical inspections that are done by the various experts of the government. Nothing is hundred percent perfect. We are modifying EXTRA when we receive complaints or suggestions from the players, or the persons involved in sports. To give an example: Some of the players were not happy with the front wheels. We immediately designed a new front wheel model and changed the hardness grade. We are always open to the new ideas of the players since they are the best users of EXTRA.
What feedback do you otherweise get from EXTRA users?
Serefhan: We are very proud of manufacturing a high-quality basketball wheelchair. The players in Turkey were admiring other brands before we started to sell EXTRA. But at the same time, they were complaining about the extremely expensive prices of the other brands from different European countries. When we made the first EXTRA Basketball Wheelchair and showed it to the most successful player of Turkey, he used it and said that there is no difference with the other European products. This was the startup which encouraged us to continue the production of EXTRA as a new branding in Europe. We have players using EXTRA at the European teams like Galatasaray, Köln99ers, Basket Clube De Gaia, Irodikos, Besiktas and so on. We also have many players using EXTRA at the national team with in only 1.5 years time. Now we are having inquiries from different countries asking to be our distributor.
EXTRA wheelchairs does not only manufacture basketball wheelchairs. The company is also well versed in other sports, such as fencing and tennis. Busra Un for example is one of the first female Paralympic tennis players in Turkey and trusts in EXTRA Wheelchairs.
Which known basketball players use EXTRA?
Serefhan: For example, a very famous player named Özgür Gürbulak. He was using another European brand as an ambassador. He has started to use EXTRA for almost two years. He is a very well-known wheelchair basketball player in the world. He became MVP (Most Valuable Player) so many times at so many European and World Championships. He is a brilliant and high skilled player. He has played at Galatasaray and now playing at team Besiktaş (BJK). But I want to underline that all the players are very important, and they deserve the highest appreciation. To learn more about our focus area you can visit our web page at www.extrawheelchairs.com.
What else can we expect from EXTRA in the future?
Serefhan: Besides the sports wheelchairs like basketball, tennis and fencing we will release a new daily active wheelchair very soon. We want people with disabilities to be more active and have no limit at daily life by using our active and sports models. We are sponsoring some events and some people with disabilities from time to time. We are sponsoring some basketball and tennis players. The customer satisfaction is very important for us. We are planning to organize sports organizations like street wheelchair basketball. We are supporting a very well-known Facebook group named Basketball without Disability. We are aiming to be one of the best-known companies in the world. As much as much we win, we like very much to share with disabled people enabling them to participate at social and sports activities.