Reinventing the wheelchair wheel: greater independence with trivida®
Reinventing the wheelchair wheel: greater independence with trivida®
We asked Dr. Christine Pflaumbaum and Kristina Vogel
Nobody expects the reinvention of the wheel and yet that is exactly what P + L Innovations GmbH has accomplished. In this REHACARE.com interview, the company’s managing director, Dr. Christine Pflaumbaum, tells us what makes trivida® so unique, explains the benefits of a detachable wheelchair wheel and gives us insights into the development process. Kristina Vogel is a former professional athlete who talks about her role in this setting and reveals why she became a brand ambassador for trivida®.
Thanks to triatec technology, the upper segment of the wheelchair wheel can be removed so that a lateral transfer from and into the wheelchair is possible.
Dr. Pflaumbaum, you and your team literally just reinvented the wheel. What makes the trivida® wheelchair wheel so unique?
Dr. Christine Pflaumbaum: Our trivida® wheel features three equally sized segments. Each segment can be easily and safely detached and reinstalled. This makes lateral transfers easier for people in wheelchairs, which means moving from and back into the wheelchair. Normally, wheelchair users must lift over or around the wheel – either on their own or with the help of nursing staff or family caregivers. trivida® can be attached to any standard mobility wheelchair with wheels on both side frames. In doing so, trivida® assists people in wheelchairs, supports the musculoskeletal system of both wheelchair users and caregivers, and encourages social inclusion and participation.
Can you tell us more about the innovative triatec® technology?
Dr. Pflaumbaum: The patented triatec® technology is the foundation of the detachable trivida® wheel, permitting a barrier-free transfer. The three-part design of the wheel ensures safety and ease of use. Each wheel segment has an ergonomic quick clamping lever, which means the upper segment of the wheel can be easily released with minimal physical effort. Thanks to a smart locking mechanism, the wheel can then be just as easily reinstalled and locked into place. Typically, the wheelchair wheel is an obstacle to a lateral transfer. This technology eliminates this hurdle, allowing a transfer with much less physical effort. The triatec® technology also guarantees complete stability. During the transfer, the wheelchair user can lean on the wheelchair for support with confidence. Apart from safety and product longevity, the key emphasis during the development process was simplicity: trivida® features minimum components to facilitate the highest level of accessibility during lateral wheelchair transfers.
What makes a detachable wheelchair wheel an important invention for people in wheelchairs?
Dr. Pflaumbaum: Without trivida®, lateral transfers can take a lot of strength and time and often mean an invasion of privacy, which is especially the case with transfers from wheelchair to toilets. There are other daily scenarios – transfers into the car or onto the stairlift – where trivida® gives users greater independence. trivida® is also gentle on muscles and reduces the risk of injury for wheelchair users, nurses, and family caregivers. We all know how physically challenging it can be to support, lift, and stabilize another person. Users keep telling me how trivida® has improved their overall quality of life and made things so much easier. These are the greatest and most meaningful moments of my workday. Suddenly, people can do things on their own again that used to be impossible. I am truly happy to see that trivida® benefits users like we hoped it would. It makes our detachable wheelchair wheel a milestone on the road to increased mobility, safety, independence, and inclusion for people who use wheelchairs.
Kristina Vogel (left) is a brand ambassador for trivida®. For Dr. Christine Pflaumbaum, the former athlete is a stroke of luck because she contributes to product development and helps improve trivida® with her experience.
Are there different wheel versions and are the costs covered by insurance?
Dr. Pflaumbaum: trivida® is available as a high-quality plastic solid rubber spoke wheel or as a lightweight, high-strength carbon wheel. The plastic version with the article number PT20 offers an optimal price-performance ratio. The high-strength carbon version (article number CC21) doesn’t just feature an elegant design but is also ideal for wet rooms. The wheel is 24 inches in diameter. A quick-change axle measuring 12 millimeters in diameter and an insertion depth of 50 millimeters, an M16 assembly bushing with an insertion depth of 50 millimeters and bushes for ½ inch axle systems are included in the scope of delivery. Medical supply stores can generally install trivida® wheels in nearly all standard manual wheelchairs. trivida® is an approved assistive technology, which means wheelchair users (in Germany) can apply for reimbursement by health insurance companies.
Kristina Vogel is your brand ambassador. How did this partnership come about?
Dr. Pflaumbaum: We were looking for someone who is a great fit for the product, is highly trusted among their peers and has personal credibility- and someone who genuinely and actively supports our product. When Kristina Vogel told us how she wants to help people in wheelchairs achieve greater autonomy and independence, and when we felt her energy and enthusiasm, we knew we had finally found our brand ambassador. Kristina has been a part of the project right from the start. She alerted us to issues when she tested our early prototypes. We used her input to optimize the product before we officially launched it. We weren't satisfied until Kristina was completely satisfied. trivida® simply leaves no room for ill-conceived implementation.
Kristina Vogel: When I was first approached by trivida®, I was quickly convinced of the quality of the product. I thought back to the immediate time after my accident and the many weeks I spent in rehabilitation. Back then, a solution like trivida® would certainly have helped me regain my independence much earlier. As a competitive athlete, it was very difficult for me to suddenly rely on the support of others in so many areas. Other people are in the same situation if they must use a wheelchair – doesn’t matter if it’s because of an accident or illness. That's why this product has my wholehearted support and endorsement.
Your website indicates that you are developing other new products for wheelchair users. What innovations can we expect from you - maybe even by 2022?
Dr. Pflaumbaum: Our goal is to make trivida® a product that benefits young and old, heavy and skinny, strong and weak people, which is why we are currently creating a limited product line. We are continuously improving the product with modifications and custom solutions to ensure our detachable wheelchair wheel can truly be used by all people who need it. Our major development projects with patent applications are still top secret for obvious reasons. Suffice to say, we plan to provide even greater support to people with disabilities and will continue to invest in the development of important innovations from a technical, design and emotional perspective.
Anne Hofmann (translated by Elena O'Meara) REHACARE.com