TA IQ Views 2015

I received my current wheelchair for trial on 11 August 2014 and shortly after this date I had this wheelchair assigned to me. So I've had 10 months to really get to know this wheelchair inside out. Really my overall view of the wheelchair is extremely positive! In this review I am going to speak about all the aspects of the wheelchair that I can think of that reader might be interested in (bear in mind this is my personal experience and may not reflect other people's experiences necessarily).

1. Suspension

This in my mind is one of the core strengths around the TA IQ design philosophy. This suspension makes the ride of this wheelchair extremely good. In comparison to the other which I had access to (TDX SP), which in comparison had a very hard ride with very little give over different terrain’s. It is my suspicion that until relatively recently many Power Wheelchair Manufacturers have not always focused on good suspension.

I can appreciate that in a Mid Wheel Drive design it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to make a suspension system which would take most of the bumps out because the driving wheels are basically sitting under the user so that potentially any uneven pathway or road surface undulation's would be transmitted directly to the user.

The TA IQ utilises gas filled suspension forks mounted outside the wheels this makes for a much smoother ride over every surface, of course this is in combination with a good seating system if you are like me requiring specialist seating. this means I get a really good ride!

2. Battery Choice, Plus Lights

These two above mentioned things are extremely critical for any wheelchair user who uses a wheelchair for everything. I know that everybody needs are different, and it’s not possible to generalise, but in my own case I really do appreciate 63 AMP Hour batteries. Having faith that your power wheelchair will get you where you need to go is so very important, it needs to be if you rely on it a lot almost failsafe. There are many wheelchair models which offer 40/50 amp hour capacity as standard (for me and a number of other high mileage users this isn’t quite enough 60 to 100 is much better mileage. Personally I would love to see lithium batteries as standard, when the cost comes down.

The difficulty in the beginning when you are trying to choose a power wheelchair, is trying to determine from a specification sheet and talking with a technician/dealer/therapist whether that one is going to be reliable. Because of course everybody tells you that the wheelchair is extremely reliable; but it isn’t until you have had daily use of the unit for months that you really begin to either accept this as being true or knowing that it was just spin.

Lighting was something that initially I was indecisive about just because it was considered an optional extra that I had to pay for myself and I didn’t know whether I would use it. Well I can tell you, that especially in low light dark conditions that the lights are crucial. This of course would depend on your usage patterns. Not everybody would require lights, because they are an additional cost (usually they are not prescribed if you get a wheelchair through a medical system and don’t self fund, but I do feel that lights do offer a degree of safety for me when I’m going out in darkened conditions.

3. Customised my wheelchair

Even though, this particular wheelchair was hospital funded, I really wanted to put a stamp of personalisation on to it. So at my own cost about $1100 I had the wheels and the springs powder coated plus inclusive in that cost I also had lights and indicators. I can certainly appreciate that not everybody will either want to or necessarily have the funds to personalise their wheelchair. But the way I feel is if I’m going to spend 12 to 14 hours in the thing I wanted to reflect my personality. Modern wheelchair manufacturers these days can accommodate people's personal taste, with colour options and so forth.

4. Speed

This wheelchair has a top speed of 12.5 km an hour which is so handy under certain circumstances. Top end performance is very important to many of us because it means shorter travel times, when conditions allow us to go quickly safely. I was unsure initially whether I would really take advantage of travelling at the upper end of the speed spectrum but to my surprise I do very often. Of course, I am very mindful of pedestrians because I consider it a privilege not a right that I occupy the pavement with people (I only drive quickly when there is no obstruction and it is completely safe for me to do so); driving defensively and to the conditions is so very important. It’s not just a matter of either stopping or driving flat out; in my experience the reality is you drive all over the speed range . Being courteous to other people occupying the same place as yourself is very important. Not all other people using mobility devices are considerate always; my way of thinking is that it’s just the same as if you’re driving a motor vehicle.

5. Seating Features

I enjoy all these features immensely!

The TA IQ model that I have has all the major power seating options available, that is:

Tilt/Recline, Plus An Elevating Function

They combine in their function to truly improve my comfort and quality of life! But the feature I most celebrate

The combination of these three seating features has truly surprised me the most! The first two were a given. The feature that I celebrate the most is the seat lift! This has had the most practical impact on my daily life. Socially it has improved my interaction with people (increasing my confidence). Secondly it has made me more independent because I’m able to do more things (i.e. reaching into the refrigerator, being able to see over objects. Closing the curtains. I use this feature multiple times per day. I know that from a funding point of view it is very difficult to justify. From a personal point of view elevation lift has been so life changing for me, that I believe that everybody should have the right to have this as a mandatory feature!

6. The Controller

I very much like the R–Net controller which is used on the TA IQ, being very clear to read the controls are such an advance on what we had before. I particularly enjoy having access to an odometer and trip meter I really do use these a lot. Also the controller gives you an active read out as to what speed you are currently travelling at. This is particularly handy when you are in a crowded situation and things are going particularly slow (if you find you are travelling a little bit too quickly and you are right behind another person you can quickly look down see what speed you are going and quickly adjust it (it is great to have a reference at any given time as well). This doesn’t mean that it takes your attention away from what you’re doing but is a convenience factor.

7. Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoy the TA as a driving platform. After 10 months and 737 km I can personally recommend the design and I feel completely safe in all the situations I put my wheelchair into; the Mid Wheel Drive drivetrain is extremely stable and not prone to tipping.

I will, and can recommend this to anybody needing a reliable power wheelchair. I would just like to extend a thank you to both TA services Denmark who produce the power chair and the local distributors in New Zealand Morton and Perry for both producing and marketing a wheelchair like this in New Zealand for the benefit of many users.