Name: Jamie Hamblin
Condition: Learning disability, paralysis of the right leg, epilepsy and severe eczema
Tested the WheelAir: Every day since the onset of summer and the heatwave
Jamie lives in a Choice Care Group care home in England for adults with complex needs. Jamie experiences numerous problems associated with overheating. He also has a uniquely designed wheelchair which the WheelAir wouldn’t traditionally fit to. So after visiting Jamie and measuring his chair, we came up with a bespoke solution. Since Jamie’s chair was much longer than manual wheelchairs, we elongated the cushion to fit his chair.
His support worker, Millie, has recently answered some of our questions about how overheating affects Jamie, and how the WheelAir is making life easier for them both. This is what she had to say.
Jamie’s current challenges with overheating
Overheating is a trigger to Jamie’s seizures. The fact that Jamie cannot bear weight means he spends his time either in his wheelchair or in bed. His wheelchair is custom-made and cushioned to avert pressure sores. He gets very hot and clammy sitting in his wheelchair, which bring on his seizures.
Jamie does receive rescue medication to help prevent the onset of a seizure, however, he has a maximum dose in a period of 24 hours. In the worst case scenario, Jamie could end up in hospital if he has taken a maximum dosage of his medication and still has a seizure.
Overheating also exhausts Jamie. If he is too hot he cannot participate is vital physiotherapy sessions which take place twice a week. So if his temperature is not well managed, he misses out on the few activities he does to keep him healthy.
Additionally, becoming clammy and sweaty leads to itching, scratching, flare up and open wounds which prevents him from attending hydrotherapy.
To keep him cool we air-condition in his environment and make sure he is wearing appropriate clothing. These solutions work as long as he remains indoors. However, when it is warm outside, he cannot go on day trips to the sea side or to the park for picnics. Without the WheelAir he is confined to the home where we are able to control environmental temperatures.
Since getting his WheelAir, Jamie has not had to cancel any of his activities because of a heat induced seizure and has been actively participating in his therapies.
Jamie’s WheelAir Experience
We have used the WheelAir on the many warm to hot days we have experienced this summer. The WheelAir fits very well to his chair as Corien (WheelAir’s Managing Director) came to the care home and took measurements to make sure. When it arrived it was very easy to install.
From my observations, the WheelAir certainly appears to keep Jamie very cool and it came at the most appropriate time as this year’s summer has been very warm! I can notice that Jamies body feels physically cooler after he uses the WheelAir.
I really think it was a good buy. Jamie has been on two day trips which would have been almost impossible in the absence of his WheelAir.
He has experienced reduced heat rash symptoms and has much more energy… and amazingly, since getting the WheelAir, he has not had to cancel any of his activities because of a heat induced seizure and has been actively participating in his therapies. He itches and scratches less as well, no longer having to take antibiotics to manage his skin care. He does not have flare ups anymore, either!
In terms of constructive feedback, the only thing I could say is that I think it would be more effective if the vents were elongated to circulate the cool air to his upper back. Currently, on Jamie’s large chair, the cool air is concentrated to his lower back only.
A note from WheelAir
Yes, the channels inside Jamie’s chair are currently the same length as ones made for far shorter wheelchairs. So this is why the air currently doesn’t go as far up his back as we would want. Taking this feedback on board, we plan to develop longer channels when we can to fit Jamie’s chair and others like his.
How WheelAir has impacted Millie’s role as a support worker
Personally, the satisfaction in my job role is when those we support have quality of life despite their challenges. Especially when they are not able to express themselves or make choices. A support workers job is made easier when our daily routine with our patients is not disturbed by GP appointments or hospital admissions. So in this regard I would say that my job is made easier by the WheelAir. Jamie and his peers routine’s are less disturbed and it helps keep him healthy and comfortable.