MS: A Contribution from “Stumbling In Flats”

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As World MS day is a week tomorrow, we’ve teamed up with Barbara Stensland, a published author and blogger at Stumbling In Flats, which details her day to day life living with Multiple Sclerosis and how it affects her life. In this blog contribution, she’s provided valuable tips and advice for others going through the same situation, as well as what it’s like to live with MS.


Could you tell us a bit about living with MS and your history with it?

I first experienced symptoms of MS in 2011 and was diagnosed in 2012. My symptoms appeared very suddenly, so adapting to a whole new life with MS was really difficult. I had problems with extreme fatigue, balance, foot-drop and cognitive issues.

As I was diagnosed with highly-active relapsing MS, I was offered a new treatment, Alemtuzumab, which has helped slow down the frequencies of my relapses. I have also been fortunate enough to have a fabulous MS team here in Cardiff. In particular, the MS nurses have been a lifeline.

Have you ever experienced any discrimination due to being a person with a disability? 

Very shortly after my symptoms started, I began to be bullied at work, a job I loved. This had a devastating effect on my health and emotional state and I was shocked that this kind of discrimination could happen. The experience was brutal and it culminated in my dismissal. I was lucky enough to find an employment lawyer who happened to have MS and together we fought back. I won the case, found a new job and moved on with my life but I am still angry that the situation ever took place.

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You mention that you’ve written a book and contributed to many different websites. What would you say is your greatest achievement whilst living with MS?

Every time I receive an email or comment on my blog about how my writing has helped someone come to terms with their own MS, I glow with pride! But I would have to say that my greatest achievement has been bringing up my son, Christopher, throughout everything MS could throw at us. We’ve had our dark days but I have always tried my hardest to keep his life as normal as possible. I’m pleased to say he is now heading to University and is a well-rounded, confident young man!

Do you use any mobility aids that you would definitely recommend?

Despite my balance being an issue for me and dealing with frequent foot-drop, I resisted using a walking stick for as long as possible. I guess I didn’t want to admit to myself how much of an impact MS was having on my health. However, the sheer relief I felt when I finally bought one was immense. Suddenly I could do so much more than usual and it gave me my confidence back. I would recommend anyone with similar symptoms to me should get one and keep it handy. I have a fold-up one so I can pop it in my bag and use it when I need to.

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What are the biggest challenges for someone with MS?

I would have to say that the biggest challenge is society’s view of people with MS, and disabled people as a whole. There is a general lack of understanding about the illness and how it can impact someone’s life. Also, learning to live with the unpredictability of MS is an ongoing battle; trying to explain MS fatigue can be extremely difficult!

What advice would you give to readers who may experience depression whilst living with MS?

It is so important to reach out and talk to someone. Depression in MS is extremely common and is a recognised symptom. I suffered very badly for a couple of years after diagnosis and kept a lot of things to myself. However, I found that when I started my blog and wrote about how I was feeling, the comments and feedback I received helped me enormously. There is a wonderful support network out there, both on the internet and in real life. As a first step, if a person is living with depression, they could speak to their MS nurse who will be able to signpost them towards help and support.

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If you have any tips you’d like to offer to other readers, or if you want to share an opinion or experience get in touch with us via Twitter or Facebook! You can also check out Barbara’s social media via her Twitter and her amazing blog.

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Iconic Walking Sticks in History and Fiction

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Walking sticks are more than just a mobility aid – they can be a way to express style! Go all the way back to Ancient Egypt and you’ll see many Ancient Egyptian gods depicted in hieroglyphics carrying walking sticks and staffs. Men in the Middle Ages carried walking sticks to connote power and justice, whilst in the 17th and 18th centuries canes became a fashion icon to show others you had wealth and superiority.

Today, they serve a worthy purpose of providing sturdiness and security to those who need it, but that’s not to say that they can’t still symbolise fashion and power. Over the centuries and decades, both in history and fiction, a number of suave characters with canes have stood out, thanks to their handy companion. In this blog post, we’ve picked out the most famous walking stick users, and how you can take inspiration from their style!


Charlie Chaplin

Possibly the most famous walking stick user is Charlie Chaplin, whose iconic “Tramp” character was created in 1914 and continued to appear onscreen until the mid-1930′s. A main symbol associated with this character is Chaplin’s walking stick, with which he established his famous walk. Last year it was reported that the very same stick that Chaplin used was going up for auction and was expected to sell for between £6,000 and £9,000 – that’s an expensive walking stick! Fortunately, we have a similar (and much more affordable) alternative, our Chestnut Walking Stick! Like Chaplin’s, it features a smoothly rounded crook which conveniently hooks over your arm to carry and provides that perfect “silent movie” vintage aesthetic.

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Oscar Wilde

A well-known novelist and playwright, Oscar Wilde was one of the most fashionable men of Victorian London. The “Picture of Dorian Gray” author was also rarely seen without a walking stick, something he carried just for pure style! With his fur coat and large hat, an elegant cane was just the right finishing touch to Wilde’s dandy appearance. Our Adjustable Walking Stick with Marbled Design is the perfect walking stick to help you achieve that perfect Wilde-esque aesthetic, thanks to its stylish white marble-effect handle and sleek, black, adjustable shaft. This walking stick will offer comfort and support, whilst simultaneously being eye-catching and fashionable, just like Oscar Wilde’s!

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Winston Churchill

A Prime Minister most famous for helping Britain win the Second World War, Churchill’s distinctive English gentleman look was made complete with the help of his walking stick – like his hat and trademark pipe, he was rarely seen without it. He even claimed that he was “walking with destiny” when he carried it with him. You might not be the next Prime Minister, but luckily we have just the stick to make you feel like you’re walking with destiny too! Our Fischer Marble Handle walking sticks feature a creamy marble-pattern handle and elegant wooden oak shaft, perfect for going for a stroll or feeling as powerful as Churchill.

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Willy Wonka

An excellent character crafted from the mind of Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka’s iconic look isn’t complete without a top hat, velvet blazer – and of course, his walking stick! Now depicted in two majorly successful films, it’s clear that only the brightest and zaniest stick is suitable when you’re the owner of a magical chocolate factory. Head over to our website where you’ll find our Folding Sassy Walking Sticks, which are available in two vivid designs and are the golden ticket to a perfect mobility aid.

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What’s your favourite walking stick? Do you have any tips or recommendations? Let us know by tweeting us at @AbilityStore or by contacting us on our Facebook page!

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The Icing on the Cake

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The Great British Bake Off is back on the airwaves this year with a whole new feel, but you can still feel like a Star Baker from the comfort of your own home with our wide range of food preparation products! Our selection of items cater towards everyone, regardless of ability, to aid and assist you with all your culinary needs. Also featured in this blog post are some handy tips and advice on how to bake if you have a disability or limited mobility, along with some helpful links.


On our website, our food preparation products are specifically designed to aid bakers who need a little assistance, but their discreet design allows them to easily blend into any kitchen environment and still look stylish! The Box Grater from OXO has three different grating surfaces and an attached container, which allows the user to grate and slice food such as cheese and chocolate with ease, to whip up the perfect recipe. With a non-slip base and a comfortable handle, it’s ideal for users with limited dexterity and provides added security whilst you’re baking!

Rolling out dough can be a strenuous task, especially if you’re a perfectionist! For bakers who require that little bit of help in the kitchen, our One Handed Rolling Pin is ideal for improving ability, thanks to its steel core which adds extra weight when rolling out dough or pastry. The smooth action is a relief from any aches or strain on the wrist, and guaranteed to improve your baking experience!

If you’re experiencing vision issues or impairments, a great product to use is our Talking Scales with Measuring Jug. Whilst measuring out ingredients, it reads out the amount in a loud and clear voice and is guaranteed to be the perfect kitchen companion if you need the assistance. Baking is a hobby enjoyed by many, so we’ve made it accessible for everyone. These talking scales make an ideal gift or present for a friend or family member, or if you just want to treat yourself!

Our cleverly designed Silicone Oven Mitt provides safety and security whilst handling hot items; the material allows for a firmer grip than regular oven gloves and is especially ideal for bakers with limited dexterity. The stylish and colourful design adds a modern touch and creates a feature of the oven mitt, as well as being highly practical. Easily slipped on and off, this product eliminates any risk of accidental burns to ensure that baking stays fun and safe!

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If you love the idea of baking but have no idea where to start, we’ve got you covered! A range of charity-run classes across the country offer help and support to aspiring bakers who may be elderly, or living with a disability. Fifth Trust have a fantastic catering activity called Baked, which is specially aimed at helping adults with various disabilities. Join their Cook Club and learn how to make a range of jams and preserves which you can even sell, or work your way up to being employed in their Valley Cafe.

You may be wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to baking – but it’s not just a fun way to serve up yummy treats! Baking has been proven to offer a therapeutic experience which helps you to relax and unwind, plus it helps with depression and calms people with dementia. Because of its simplicity and repetition, baking can be highly effective in reducing stress or anxiety, both of which can be common for seniors. It can even help to build up an appetite again, something which can often be affected by mental health issues or dementia.

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Baking is a fun and effective hobby and everyone should be able to enjoy it, regardless of age or ability. If you have any tips or advice for other readers, make sure to head over to our Facebook or get in touch via Twitter!

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5 Ways to Make Your Business More Accessible

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Today’s blog contribution comes from Invalifts, a company whose products have been used in buildings throughout the UK, such as shops, museums and universities. Their lifts are specially designed to fit into difficult spaces or small floor plans, therefore providing much better accessibility in buildings, especially in the workplace! Read on for their five easy ways to help make your business more accessible, to establish a safer workplace for everyone.


Current figures show that over 10 million people in the UK are living with a disability; however it seems a lot of businesses still don’t provide disabled access. Not only is this inconvenient for the customer, it’s a lot of potential business you will be losing out on! Sometimes businesses can be unaware of how to adapt their buildings to make them more convenient for visitors, without it costing the earth. So, we have put together a list of our top five tips on how to make your business more accessible.

Make Sure You Have Clear Signs

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People need to be made aware that your business is disability & low mobility friendly, so displaying signs around your business premises showing accessible entrances, areas and services will come in handy to customers.

If the main door to the building isn’t the disability access, make sure that there is clear direction to which door is. Disabled parking spaces can make visits easier; potentially meaning they will be likely to return. Making people aware that you offer disabled parking and other helpful services, such as disabled toilets or a customer lift, can be especially important – all contributing to a pleasurable customer experience.

Ramps & Automatic doors

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It may be off-putting to someone who struggles to walk to be faced with a mammoth mountain of stairs just to enter a building, let alone get between floors inside it.

By adding ramps to your building structure, both internally and externally, it makes the process of getting around a lot more suitable for those who are less able. Automatic doors are useful for those who find it hard to move heavy doors, especially for those using a wheelchair. This also grants people more independence, as they won’t have to rely on assistance to get in and out of the building.

To view Ability Superstore’s range of portable ramps, click here.

Installing a Lift

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If your building is multi-story, this may also be unattractive for some customers. But installing a lift will mean they can easily access different levels and floors with confidence. A common reason for some commercial premises failing to provide a lift is because they believe there isn’t enough room, or that it will be a costly figure to install. With new and dynamic solutions being created, it is now easy for any building, even older structures, to offer a customer lift. A Platform Lift is a reasonably priced option which requires little space or building works. They are reliable, quiet and economical solutions which have no requirement for a machine room or lifting beam.

Invalifts are Platform Lift specialists – offering a wide range of products suitable for both private homes and commercial spaces. Visit their site for lift solutions for your business.

Well-lit Spaces

Locations such as restaurants are often dimly lit to create a romantic or casual atmosphere, which can make things difficult with the increased risk of trips or bumps, as well as difficulty reading the menu. For a good customer experience, ensure your building is well lit with consistent overhead lighting, which makes it easier to navigate, and overall much safer.

Printed Materials

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There are over 2 million people with sight problems in the UK. Having Braille (additionally to written text) on important documents such as business cards and menus helps those who are blind or have impaired eyesight. It may also help to include pictures on menus to assist those who are deaf-mute or hard of hearing, as they may be looking for a visual explanation of what to order. Another handy feature some businesses take advantage of is publishing their full menu on their website, so customers can decide what they’d like to order before they visit.

These accessibility adaptions don’t have to be expensive, but could benefit your business massively. By implicating even a couple of these tips, you will see a great difference in customer satisfaction and a returning customer base. Additionally to making things easier for people living with disability, it also makes life easier for the elderly and families with pushchairs. Over 3.3 million families use pushchairs whilst shopping or visiting attractions in the UK, suggesting the extent of the market you will be supporting.

Making your business accessible makes life easier for everyone and in short, makes for good business sense.


If you have any tips for other readers or want to share your opinion about accessibility, get in touch either via our Twitter or our Facebook. Thanks again to Invalifts for the great contribution!

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Do Your Bit For Deaf Awareness Week

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This week it’s Deaf Awareness Week, so we’re focusing today’s blog on ways you can help, donate and find products to aid you or someone you know who lives with a hearing impairment. More than 900.000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly hearing-impaired and by 2035 it is estimated that there will be 15.6 million people with hearing loss in the UK – that’s 1 in 5. Read on for ways on how to donate to various charities, find products that can help hearing impairment and how to look after your hearing.


There are several charities that provide handy tips and helpful advice on how you can fund raise to boost awareness of hearing loss or impairment and make an invaluable difference on people’s lives. Action On Hearing Loss have a plethora of information on how to become a volunteer either at home or in the workplace. If you belong to a club, group or community, you can follow their advice on how to enter your group into organising a collection or an awareness event.

Raising money doesn’t just have to include fundraising events; you can donate from the comfort of your own home, if mobility is an issue for you. This link lets you donate in many different ways, such as making a one-off donation, setting up a direct debit, payroll giving or leaving money in your will. You can also send a gift via the post if you’re not tech-savvy, with this donation form available here. Donating money to help people with hearing impairments allows charities to gather more research about hearing problems and hopefully provide a cure for future generations.

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Also on their website is advice on when you should go to see your local GP if you start experiencing signs of reduced hearing. It is vital to tell your doctor in the early stages, as they may be able to prevent further deterioration. Hearing loss should never be a barrier between you and your GP – they’re there to help you and provide support, no matter what stage of hearing loss you’re living with. The Equality Act ensures that public places have hearing aid loop systems and plenty of visual guides and information for patients with hearing impairments, so they’re accessible for everyone.

For special hearing aids guaranteed to help you, head over to our website where we have a list of specialist products suitable for people with hearing impairments. From amplified phones to home induction loop systems, we have an extensive range of items specially designed to aid users living with a hearing impairment or loss and make daily tasks easier.

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If you have any tips or advice you’d like to offer, get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter!

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Save On Wheelchair Cushions!

Our fantastic sale extravaganza is still on over at Amazon, where you can find great deals on wheelchairs and accessories! wordpressheader1 Add a splash of colour, comfort and style to your wheelchair with this two way support cushion! BeFunky Collage It comes with an attractive check patterned cover, which is guaranteed to suit any environment, and you can also use it in the car, at home, in the office or on a mobility scooter. This support cushion offers the user a choice of two different seating styles; either nodular foam on one side of the cushion, or a flat support on the other side, so you can choose the perfect level of support for you. Additionally, at the join between the two parts, there is a coccyx cut out shape which allows the user’s tailbone to almost float with ease above the seat, which removes any pressure from the lower back and eases any backache, therefore preventing strain from sitting awkwardly. The square shape of the cushion is also perfect for most wheelchairs and fits snugly in the majority of designs to prevent it from slipping around. For easy transportation, both parts of the cushion have a carry handle which enables the user to simply fold the cushion in half and grip the comfortable straps, so it can be taken and used anywhere! Available in Lavender, Black Watch, Picnic Check and Royal Stewart.

Save up to 20% on Wheelchair Accessories 

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Check Out Our Video Guides…

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If you haven’t already seen, we’ve been busy creating handy step-by-step video guides on how to assemble and use some of our products! Our current and future videos are available to view via our YouTube channel and are specially made to give you clear and concise help, when you receive your product.

Using videos as a guide is particularly accommodating, as it provides a visual explanation, perfect for customers who struggle with reading, plus, YouTube features subtitles on their videos so it’s also ideal for customers with hearing impairments. Many people can often find reading instructions confusing and stressful, as they can be worded oddly or just overwhelm you with too much text.

Our video guides not only show you exactly how to build the product, with step-by-step demonstration, but they also provide an aural description so customers with vision impairments will be able to hear the instructions clearly. It’s a good idea to follow the steps whilst assembling the chosen product, as the video guides move at a leisurely and steady pace which allows you to keep up and easily build the product alongside the video.

Currently, our most recent video features an assembly guide for our round shower stool, a handy product with four secure legs and a comfortable seat, for those who need a little help with support when showering. This shower stool is available to purchase via our website and it offers stability and comfort, if you need assistance with balance or mobility. Its four feet are designed to not slip in the shower, even if they are wet, and the legs are all adjustable so you can alter it to fit your needs. The lightweight design means it’s easy to move in and out of the shower, even if you have dexterity problems, whilst the minimal yet contemporary design allows it to blend into any environment!

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You can watch our assembly guide via the link in the previous paragraph, or you can head over to our YouTube channel where you can view a number of our helpful videos. Also, check out our Facebook page and Twitter account where we’ll be posting updates to tell you about our new videos!

 

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Green-fingers: How To Grow Your Own Tomatoes by Jackie Edwards

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We’re all about gardening this month, so we’ve teamed up with guest writer Jackie Edwards to tell you how you can grow your own tomatoes! Jackie’s handy guide is the perfect way to ensure your produce is tasty and delicious, and easy for everyone to grow. If you follow Jackie’s advice and grow your own fruit and veg, we have a range of helpful items to support you and make gardening effortless! For more gardening tips, check out a previous post from us on National Gardening Week. Also, keep your eyes peeled for exciting gardening news on our Facebook page…


How to Grow Your Own Tomatoes

No matter your ability needs, you can grow your own delicious tomatoes. With planters and the right conditions, it is more than possible have healthy tomato plants growing in your home, outdoors if you live in a warm enough place, or in a greenhouse. This is a summary of a guide covering how to grow tomatoes. This covers getting started, hardiness, light requirements, watering, soil, and more. By the end of this guide you should have a good idea how to grow your own tomatoes.

Getting Started

Tomatoes are a fairly easy vegetable to grow requiring plenty of sunshine, acidic loamy soil, and a few aids. You will need:

  • Seeds
  • Trellises
  • Pruners
  • Soil
  • Pots

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Choose a spot which is easy to access – have raised planters built if bending over is difficult. The plants will need at least 6 hours, preferably at least 8 hours of sunshine each day. It is possible to use grow lights indoors or to grow them in a greenhouse instead. Naturally, the further north you go, the harder it is to grow tomatoes. In addition to sunshine, tomatoes need 2 inches of water every week for the entire growing season.

How to Plant Your Tomatoes

  1. Pick a site with lots of sunshine and good soil
  2. Seed 6 weeks before the last frost of spring indoors or after outdoors
  3. Plant seeds 2 feet apart
  4. Give extra water during the first week or so
  5. Fertilise them 2 weeks before and after picking the first tomato

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Companion Plants: It’s good to grow other plants with your tomatoes. Many can help repel bugs which like to eat tomatoes like flea beetles, aphids, and white flies. One good plant for this is basil. Other good companion plants include chives, mint, marigold, nasturtium, carrots, and lettuce.

Hardiness: Tomatoes are not hardy at all and need protection and good growing conditions. For this reason, it can be best to start them growing indoors first. Take them outdoors when it gets consistently warmer.


You can see some more of Jackie’s excellent writing here. If you have any tips or opinions you’d like to share, get in touch via our Facebook or our Twitter!

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Make May Purple: Stroke Awareness Month

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May is Stroke Awareness Month and we’re keen to provide the best tips and advice on how you can help. From fundraising ideas to ideal products, we hope that you can help to Make May Purple, for you, a family member, a friend or anyone in need.


Thanks to the Stroke Association and all the wonderful work they do for stroke survivors, it’s simple and straightforward to raise money for the charity. On their website, they have a free fundraising pack for you to download, which provides fun and effective ways to raise vital funds and awareness for the charity, such as wearing purple, participating in bake sales or sponsored bike rides. Fundraising can take place anywhere, like at schools, work, home and in your neighbourhood. Not only is it for a worthy cause, but it can also offer the chance to make new friends and strengthen the bonds of your community! You can even buy fundraising materials online, like balloons, bunting, posters and stickers, to really “purple-up” your environment.

If you’re looking for an event that you can join in with, Stroke Association’s website has a map which pinpoints all the locations that are registered as taking part  in the fundraising. These range from community halls and churches, to pop-up stalls in shopping centres and hospitals. It’s quick and simple to find an event near you, via the map, and you can even register your event so it appears online and raises the profile of your fundraising.

On our website, we have a range of different products suitable for stroke patients. Rehabilitation is key after experiencing a stroke, and we have a selection of items that aid stroke patients in improving their health. Our pedal exerciser is perfect for building strength back up in the legs, and you can do it from the comfort of your own chair, whilst our gel ball hand exercisers are ideal for resistance training and strengthening the hands.

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If you or someone you know has experienced a stroke, help is provided easily through numerous charities and fundraising methods. If you have any tips and advice for recovery, or fundraising, tweet us at @AbilityStore or get in touch via our Facebook!

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Save on wheelchairs and accessories!

Our fantastic sale extravaganza is still on over at Amazon, where you can find great deals on wheelchairs and accessories!

 

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One of our featured wheelchairs is the Ability Superstore K-Chair range:

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The K-Chair has been developed to provide an excellent level of comfort for wheelchair users as it features an adjustable suspension that can be tailored to suit the user and the environment, which reduces any effects of an uneven floor surface.  It features both front and rear shock absorbers, making for one of the smoothest rides available. The rear shock absorbers are adjustable while the front casters are 7” puncture proof tyres. The 24” rear wheels feature hand rims that are palm activated. The padded seat cushion provides utmost comfort while the back canvas is tension adjustable to suit any user. The one-touch height adjustable arm rests are also designed to be tailored to each user. The footrest swing in and out in order to make for easy transfer from the chair, while the kerb-stepper and anti-tip wheels facilitate safe climbing.  The chair also folds down for easy storage when not in use.

Save up to 20% on Wheelchair Accessories 

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