The JJs List Blog

Free to Explore – See the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment in Action

Posted by on July 12, 2013 - 11 Comments

How the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment hooks onto Nura's Wheelchair

A whole new world of adventures have opened up for me this past week.  I am a young woman who happens to use a wheelchair and never in a million years did I think I could go hiking in the mountains with ease or even maneuver grass without help.

A few months ago I discovered a device called the Freewheel.  I first found it at the Abilities Expo in Chicago.  The expo showcases assistive devices and organizations geared toward servicing people with the disabilities.  The Freewheel was created by a man who is a paraplegic like me.  How does it work?  I was skeptical myself.

The Freewheel is an attachment that fits on the footplate of a manual wheelchair.  Once it is clamped on, it raises the front of the wheelchair so the small caster wheels are off the ground.  When maneuvering without the Freewheel the small casters are what get stuck and make it close to impossible to manage on rough unpaved terrain. So with the casters elevated off the ground with the Freewheel attached the theory is rough terrain is no longer an obstacle.

After seeing the wheel at the expo I discovered that other paraplegics I knew used it and loved it. I was no longer skeptical, but eager to try it for myself.  My brother bought it for me months ago and it just sat unopened.  I was nervous that my mom and I wouldn’t be able to figure it out.

Finally, 6 months later my mom and I brought it on vacation with us.  My brother helped us figure out how to use it.  It was time for a dry run. We were heading up to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, no real trails to speak of and in the treetops of beautiful and pungent Pine and Aspen trees, almost 11,000 ft up.

Nura with her mother in the mountains

I got out of the car, into my wheelchair and popped the Freewheel on and started slowly and cautiously maneuvering the new terrain.  It was a miracle.  I was having no problems.  I started to go a little faster and less cautiously.  I was able to push myself and go wherever I wanted with no more effort than any other time.  I was free!

I looked on YouTube to see if there were videos of others using the Freewheel.  There were videos of people using it on the beach!  I love the beach and swimming but finding an accessible beach (with a ramp leading down to the water) is difficult.  This means I can go to any beach I want and I can finally be free to do and try things I used to think were impossible.  I am free!  I love being out in nature and exploring and the Freewheel gives me that freedom.

Nura Aly
Written by Nura Aly
Nura Aly is a 26 year old woman who is born with Spina Bifida and uses a wheelchair.  She has played violin for 18 years.  She received her BA in Music from DePaul University and is working towards getting her Teacher Certification in Music from Northeastern Illinois University.  She has volunteered at JJslist for about 4 years helping with Disability Awareness Training, fundraising events and most recently with blogging.
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Naima Cohn says:
Jul 12, 2013

Yay! Nura, this is so awesome! I’m so happy for you.

Jake says:
Jul 16, 2013

Sounds like a really neat device! I love the video.

Ellen Garber Bronfeld says:
Jul 22, 2013

I love your story! I co-moderate a yahoo listserv called IPADDU (Illinois Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities Unite)…
I would love to reprint your story on our listserv as I think it is very motivating and it contains some really useful information.
Please let me know if I have your permission to do so.

lauren Battista says:
Jul 23, 2013

please write to my old friend from king lab.

Nura Aly says:
Aug 27, 2013

Ellen go ahead and reprint the story if you would like. Just let me know if and when you do so. Thanks, Nura

Chas Magdanz says:
Oct 28, 2013

Nura, I showed your video to my doc. It helped her decide to Rx me a FreeWheel. Thanks 🙂

Sally Dowell says:
Jun 01, 2014

What is the cost and how difficult is it for an elderly person to use?

Sally Dowell says:
Jun 01, 2014

What is the cost and how difficult is it for a senior to use?

Tanqles says:
May 17, 2015

A friend of mine had the same problem with the front wheels of her chair. They were they were lager but rather thin and sank in soft ground. I changed them for lawn mower wheels and she gets around rather well now.

Julian Smith says:
Sep 19, 2016

This is interesting story and it has useful information. Thanks for posting.

Deborah Vick says:
Nov 10, 2016

I have been using mine for about 5 years and almost always take it everywhere with me. It decreases friction from roads to carpets to off roading with my boys and cub scouts. One of my most useful and versatile tools!

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