Zack Collie: Campus Cruising

IMG_2137Zack Collie is a full time student at Cal State Fullerton. Currently, he is a junior studying human services with a minor in psychology, except his real passion is crime analysis. Soon he’ll be embarking on a 400 hour internship learning about detective work and profiling. Think blood spatter pattern analysis, a-la-Dexter. (He is a longtime fan of detective and crime TV shows.) A music lover, Zack always has a concert lined up to go to. (Next up: a rave/EDM festival at the Hollywood Palladium.) As a wheelchair user, he likes venues that offer accessible seating on raised platforms, because who wants to jam to live music at gluteal level? It gets ugly down there. Or beautiful, depending on how you assess your surroundings..

image4Overall, Zack strikes one as independent, ambitious, and social. He may be paralyzed, but he never stops moving. He is a quadriplegic due to a spinal cord injury, though this proves to be the least of his defining characteristics. In part, his ability to be so active he credits to his Spinergy ZX-1 Power Add-On. He calls it his “robotic legs” and uses it constantly. While many wheelchair users choose to attach their manual wheelchairs to the ZX-1 intermittently or for outdoor excursions, Zack says, “When I’m not using it, is when I’m sleeping.”

Campus life has been made significantly easier thanks to the Spinergy ZX-1 he has now owned for over two years. Zack says he can get to class on time. He lives in a shared four bedroom apartment and doesn’t have to ask roommates or caregivers for help being pushed from place to place. Hills are no obstacle. Grass ain’t got nothing on the ZX-1, and now, thanks to a recent upgrade to off-road tires, he’ll get even better traction.

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When asked what impact the ZX-1 has had on his life, Zack says, “It gave me independence. Even when I used to push power assist wheels, I was still kind of handicapped, because I could only do that in the house. Now I can go anywhere. I can take my service dog to the park.”

 

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What is the ZX-1?

 

Known to elicit oohs and ahhs everywhere, Spinergy’s ZX-1 is a power-add on device that attaches to manual wheelchairs. Basically, it is a like a little jet pack for your chair. All you do is park on top of it (it tucks right under your seat) and you press a button on the joystick that stems up from the unit and bam – instant conversion.

But how does it do that, you ask?

The clam shell shaped clamp on ZX-1 grabs onto the camber tube of your chair and lifts the rear wheels of your manual slightly off the ground. Voila. Now you can navigate with joystick. And it is just as simple to dismount: press button, roll off.

What kind of chair does the ZX-1 fit?

Good news. The ZX-1 is compatible with MOST rigid frame manual wheelchairs from a variety of brands and manufacturers. If you have a camber tube, chances are, the ZX-1 will fit.

Here are basic requirements:

  • fits 15” – 20” seat width. (If you are 14”, ask your dealer about possible modifications)
  • works with rear wheels of 24”, 25” and 26”

Sometimes, a few other modifications are necessary such as removing or readjusting anti-tips and armrest brackets. Your dealer can make these simple adjustments.

Why’s it so great?

Because the gods have willed it. No, just kidding. But, seriously, there are a list of reasons for why the ZX-1 will be a game changer in your life:

  • you’ll have options to experience the best of both worlds: manual and power, and it is all in your hands. Completely autonomous to the user. That’s what independence is all about.
  • compact size keeps your width narrow so you have more ease of access, not to mention it looks sleek and discreet
  • built-in anti-tilt mechanism keeps you safe
  • great for going over grass and carpeting. So much easier, whew!
  • prevents shoulder overuse and breakdown
  • weighs 84 lbs and can fit in trunks or backseats of cars. Our partnership with Harmar has even resulted in an outside car lift just for the ZX-1, sold separately.
  • for travelers, we’ve got a Pelican Case travel box that is great for transporting the equipment on airplanes. (Sold separately)

That’s all for now. More to come.

Monique Stamps: You Can See More of Me

Monique photographed by Ginny Dixon for the Raw Beauty Project

Monique photographed by Ginny Dixon for the Raw Beauty Project

When she first got injured at the age of 16, Monique Stamps was put in a manual chair, which was difficult for her to push around. So, she opted to used a power chair instead and has been using it for 18 years…until recently. With a spinal cord injury comes reinvention and Monique became a women’s advocate, a social worker, a mother, and even an adaptive zumba instructor (one of 6 licensed teachers in the world.) Now, with the new ZX-1 and a manual chair (a TiLite Aero Z), Monique seizes another opportunity for reinvention. Where has the ZX-1 taken her and how did it empower her?

The transition to the ZX-1 was just in time for her trip to New York City where she modeled for the Raw Beauty Project, a collaborative event with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation that showcases portrait photography of several women with disabilities. The shots are powerful and evocative; they are meant to break down stigmas and empower women. The show was a success and the media picked it up so it was no surprise when the photos popped up all over the internet on sites like Huffington Post, Refinery 29, Pop Sugar, and Cosmo.

6286570_origMonique has traveled before by air, but had never been to NYC. She said “it’s not an accessible city.” There’s always a choice to be made when travelling: to take the powerchair, which is then difficult to transport without a wheelchair van waiting at the destination (and those cost a fortune to rent), or to take a manual and then get pushed around half the time. Neither scenario is exactly empowering, per say. But with the compact ZX-1 attached to a manual, Monique was able to fit it into an SUV to get around the city. A 300 pound power chair, in this scenario, would have been an impediment.

So, the ZX-1 was perfect for Monique’s participation in the Raw Beauty Project. It allowed her to feel the empowerment she was emitting in the photoshoots, it got her there with less stress and hassle, and best of all, it made her feel more visible and beautiful. Monique said, “You can SEE more of me!”…and less of the chair, we might add.

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