When it comes to mobility, we typically think of cars, buses, or trains. However, the term also includes daily living aids such as rollator walkers or wheelchairs. After all, maintaining mobility means maintaining independence to experience life in a self-determined manner. This includes shopping, traveling to work or to the doctor, and recreational activities. It’s the only way to facilitate life and community participation. One important note: People must actually use the mobility aids. Unfortunately, many leave their rollator at home where it collects dust because they are too embarrassed to use it and to be seen as "weird" out in public. "Society must change its mindset on disability to where using a mobility device is not perceived as an awkward and embarrassing prospect," says Cara Cröntgen from ergoflix Group GmbH. Her colleague Dennis Stadler adds: "It's a shame that there are social barriers, stigma, and negative stereotypes linked to wheelchairs. It’s something we are trying to change by sending a message to society. The ergoflix brand is committed to breaking taboos."
The foldable power wheelchairs (homepage in german only) that were showcased in the forum are designed to help maintain independence. Users can fold them to fit in a car. This facilitates and ensures social participation. Dennis Stadler believes this is important as loneliness is a growing social problem: "Obviously, a foldable power wheelchair is not a solution for loneliness as this issue involves many other aspects [...] but it can be a tool that is the first step in countering loneliness."
Harald Sieweke from the Meyra Group takes a similar view. In the forum, he introduced the company’s NANO S active wheelchair, which is ideally suited for people suffering from multiple sclerosis as the wheelchair can be adjusted to meet the user’s special needs. For patients with MS, this is especially important after a flare-up. Since the wheelchair only weighs ten kilograms (22 pounds), users can cover a longer distance with ease. That’s thanks to a design that features an open frame concept and drive wheels that are mounted closer to the frame, which also means less effort using the device. Sieweke also believes the design is key to achieving success: "It's wonderful when you get to combine great style and function, which was our goal." Needless to say, the wheelchair is also easy to fold and can be loaded into a car.