New Mom Rachelle Friedman Discovers the Ultimate Wheelchair Combo
Editor’s Note: Never underestimate the power of a mother who uses a wheelchair. She is a master of resourcefulness, a seeker of solutions, an ever-adapting individual who handles her disability with incredible grace while also nurturing another human life. Rachelle Friedman is the perfect example of a new mother who does both.
Once known as the “paralyzed bride” after sustaining a spinal cord injury at her bachelorette party, Rachelle Friedman is now gaining fame for her journey into motherhood as a thriving quadriplegic. She is also a wife, wheelchair rugby player, author and a burgeoning celebrity. (If you missed it, check out the latest story that went viral when she posed in lingerie to prove that disabilities do not limit sexuality.) She’s been featured by the Today show, Inside Edition, Huffington Post, People Magazine and has appeared on international TV programs in countries like Germany and Japan.
Despite her iconic status these days, let’s remember that the “struggle is real” and Rachelle still has to deal with challenges like changing diapers with limited dexterity. She does it with a sense of humor, as one of her recent Facebook post attests:
“Sooooo, I was having a jolly time hanging out with my lovely, sweet, angelic baby girl who was sitting on my lap. Next thing I know, I smell something that can only be described as the single most smelly thing I’ve ever smelt. I lift her up only to see a pile of poo bigger than a grown man’s all over my lap. If ever there was motivation to get undressed and dressed as quickly as possible, this was it. I was successful. And like any good wife, I sent Chris pictures. But I will spare y’all.”
As wheelchair users, we all know how tedious it is to change your own clothes, and especially another person’s, but the power of necessity can really bring out a range of talents as Rachelle learned firsthand.
Another significant challenge for Rachelle has been holding and transporting her baby, Kaley.
Since Kaley’s birth in April, Rachelle has been pushing her manual chair with the “push – switch – push – switch” technique, meaning holding the baby in one arm, push one wheel, then switch baby to other arm, push the other wheel.
The technique was clearly not sustainable unless used to traverse small areas like her living room. However, Rachelle obviously is going to be carrying her little one around the playground and across grassy fields or hills. Even though the easiest solution for most quads would be a power chair, Rachelle didn’t want one due to the fact that it would create for a specialized van and home modifications.
Being the resourceful woman she is, Rachelle turned to Spinergy, a company that has a stellar reputation for manufacturing high performance wheelchair wheels. Spinergy recently introduced with a compact device for manual wheelchairs called the ZX-1 Power Add-On that bridges the gap between power and manual chair mobility.
We all want options when it comes to mobility. In the history of wheelchair evolution, there have mainly been two choices: manual wheelchair or power chair. In the past decade, there have been several developments in power assist devices that require manual propulsion, but include mechanisms that add extra torque and speed, making it easier to push.
Now, thanks to Spinergy, you can get the best of both worlds, manual and power in one chair. Push when you want; power when you want. The ZX-1 Power Add-On is a detachable device that tucks under your manual wheelchair and converts it to a joystick-controlled power chair. It does so by grabbing onto the camber tube and lifting your manual’s rear wheels slightly off the ground. All with the press of a button.
Unlike other power assist devices, the ZX-1 has a joystick, which allows Rachelle to free up an arm for her baby. In her homemade videos demonstrating her new gear, Rachelle shows how easy it is to operate the ZX-1 without the aid of tools or an assistant. When you see how easy it is for Rachelle to carry Kaley around using the ZX-1, you’ll want to give it a try yourself.
Though Rachelle won’t be using her new toy 24/7, she knows it will benefit her and her family’s lifestyle in a variety of scenarios, especially because it’s easy for her husband Chris to tuck it in the trunk of their car for certain outings.
The ZX-1 weighs around 80 pounds — at least 4 times lighter than a power chair!
Rachelle says, “What I really love about the ZX-1 in comparison to traditional power chairs is the fact that you can see more of me.” That makes sense for a woman who is all about:
- de-stigmatizing disability,
- showing pride in her body, and
- being visible in the media and public eye.
While power chairs are a blessing to those that rely on them, Rachelle knows that for her individual needs, she prefers to experience the best of both worlds—and enjoys the interchange between pushing or powering.
And, she is just one of many women who do spinal cord injury well, thanks to her own resourcefulness. You can learn more about the ZX-1 too with the contact information below.
For more info about the Spinergy ZX-1 Power Add-On, visit www.spinergy.com or in the US, call 760-496-2121 for more info. You may also check with a local mobility/medical supply dealer about the ZX-1. Veterans may inquire about the ZX-1 at their local VA. You can also follow Spinergy under “Spinergy Wheels” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.