Resources 2018-06-07T19:29:17+00:00
RoughRider Assembly


Provider Resources

The WHO (World Health Organization) program on Disability and Rehabilitation is developing materials for appropriate and responsible service provision and service provision planning. Whirlwind supports the work of the World Health Organization on its service provision training and strongly encourages partners and customers to provide wheelchairs in compliance with the World Health Organization’s guidelines.

Currently available:

Guidelines On The Provision Of Manual Wheelchairs In Less-Resourced Settings

Wheelchair Service Training Package: Basic Level

Pressure Management

    • Whirlwind Pressure Relief Cushion Fabrication Guide:

Instructions and Video

    • WHO Resources:

Basic Service Provision

Wheelchair Training Guide, from Peter Axleson and Beneficial Designs (Book)
Riding skills videos from Wheelchair Skills Training from Dalhousie University
Whirlwind Wheelchair Resources–Coming soon
WHO resources: Basic Service Provision
Nothing About Us Without Us, book and online resource, David Werner
Disabled Village Children, book and online resource, David Werner
WheelchairNet, from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Rehabilitation Science and Engineering
Tension Adjustable Back Installation Video
• Riding skills videos from Wheelchair Skills Training, Dalhousie University
Tom Rickert’s Access To Buses Project: See the newsletters!
• Jean Anne Zollars: Special Seating, an Illustrated Guide

Responsible Wheelchair Provision

Most people think that providing a wheelchair is a simple matter of buying one and giving it away. But in order to avoid harm to the user and give the user the greatest degree of independence and mobility, wheelchair provision needs to include a whole series of steps starting with an initial screening and assessment and ending with a proper fitting and adjustment. In many cases, follow up soon after provision is also necessary.

Proper provision is important to Whirlwind because it significantly increases the benefit to wheelchair riders, our reason for existence. We do our best to see to it that our chairs are provided in accordance with the World Health Organization’s Guidelines On The Provision Of Manual Wheelchairs In Less-Resourced Settings.

Wheelchair Assembly And Rider Training

Depending on the donor’s requirements, chairs may come fully assembled in the shipping box or the chairs may require a few minutes of assembly using basic tools. Tool kits for assembly are available and can be shipped along with the wheelchairs from the factory. Simple assembly instructions on paper and video are also provided with each order. Shipping chairs with the wheels off allows more chairs to be packed into the shipping container so that more individuals can be served. Other than attachment of the real wheels, the following adjustments are required for each chair: setback height, set depth, footrest position, rear wheel axle position, and brake position. The RoughRider:® has several features, including tension adjustable backrest and adjustable back angle, which allow skilled therapists to achieve custom positioning for riders.

Whirlwind’s Ordering Process

The provision process should ideally begin with pre-identification of intended recipients. From a pool of people who need wheelchairs in the locale where the wheelchairs are to be delivered, those who are not good candidates for the chairs that are to be delivered are screened out. Those remaining in the pool are then assessed to determine which of the available wheelchair types is most appropriate for each person. The intended recipients are then measured to determine the proper seat width, seat depth, and back height. Whirlwind provides assessment forms which are helpful for this step in the process. The various measurements are then collected into an order for the manufacturer. In cases where it is not possible to get user measurements, experts who are knowledgable about the body sizes of the local disabled population can estimate the proportions of sizes necessary to serve the local population. Errors in measurement of poor estimations will result in sizes of wheelchairs that do not match the intended or available recipients. This can make for difficult decisions at the time when the wheelchairs are actually distributed, because a poorly fit wheelchair can severely limit the rider’s mobility and lead to physical and medical complications later.

Wheelchair Safety

Tipping forward is the most common cause of injury for wheelchair riders in the US. In developing countries, poor or unpaved roads make the problem worse. Whirlwind takes safety very seriously. Our ultra-stable long wheel base design almost eliminates the risk of falling forward, even while rolling off of curbs without ramps.

Like any medical device, even a well-designed wheelchair must be properly fitted to the rider by a trained care provider, to ensure the chair is fitted to the rider’s body size and adjusted properly to provide critical postural support. Secondary injury from a poorly fitted or broken wheelchair can have extreme negative health side effects for the user. New spinal deformaties can arise from long hours seated in a chair that does not support the contour of the spine. Joint problems can result from poor ergonomics, which can leave the rider unable to move independently. Also, new limb distortions often result in ill-fitting chairs. Whirlwind provides users with individually fitted wheelchairs with multiple widths and back support heights. Whirlwind supports wheelchair providers with a service delivery manual, referrals to local partners and a user’s manual to guide the chair provider with the correct fitting information for wheelchair users.

Research & Development Overview

Wheelchair riders know best what they need in a wheelchair to be able to carry out their activities of daily living. Rider-originated design is a defining principle at Whirlwind that keeps the rider’s environmental and use requirements at the front of our minds. Since 1979, Whirlwind’s founder, Ralf Hotchkiss, himself a paraplegic, has traveled all over the world in chairs he has built himself to learn from other wheelchair rider/builders in small shops what features are necessary in a good wheelchair that will be used in the rough conditions that are prevalent throughout the developing world. Durability and repairability mean the chair will last a long time, lowering the overall cost of the chair over its lifetime. The RoughRider’s much greater stability makes it the chair of choice for safety and freedom, as well as for use in rough environments. Wheelchair riders as much as anyone else deserve to have a product that is visually appealing, so aesthetic concerns are close behind function in our approach to design. Designs that really work where people actually live give riders freedom to go where they need to go. Recent innovations in Whirlwind’s wheelchairs include upgrades in the support for posture, increased durability, and increased size range.

Our wheelchair is manufactured in medium and small scale shops in Vietnam, China, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, and the Republic of Georgia. They are shipped all over the world. In addition we have two wheelchair provision and assembly centers (WPACs) in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. WPACs shift the focus from full-manufacture to assembly shops which emphasize wheelchair provision, repair, and fitting services and are better positioned for long term sustainability.