Northamptonshire student beats disability with Formula 1 influenced Trekinetic powerchair from Recare

Hardworking student Heather Sawyer, 24, from Wellingborough with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, has discovered ‘a new life experience’ through the support of Recare and a pioneering Trekinetic GTE powered wheelchair, inspired by Formula-1 technology.

Heather is currently studying at Northamptonshire University and has recently finished a MCs degree in Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health. Following a delay in her studies due to COVID-19, she hopes to continue in September with a Master’s degree and ultimately qualification as a counsellor. Heather has Pheripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) which results in frequent joint dislocation. These challenges mean Heather has extreme fatigue and can experience sudden falls when walking – use of a wheelchair gives her essential safety and peace of mind. 

Faced with an unexpected break from education due to the pandemic, Heather was determined to use the time to find a better wheelchair to improve life at university. She was struggling with a manual rigid wheelchair provided by the NHS, which Heather found tiring to use and frequently left her in pain. Heather explains: “I was offered a powerchair to replace my manual NHS chair but as I didn’t have a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), I couldn’t see how this would work. So, I spent time reading reviews and stories from the disabled community, including looking at images on Instagram. I kept noticing great feedback for the Trekinetic GTE powered wheelchair.” 

Built in the UK, the award-winning and ultra-advanced Trekinetic range includes super-lightweight powered and manual wheelchairs with large off-road 24” wheels uniquely at the front. Engineered with leading-edge materials developed in F1 racing, Trekinetic wheelchairs provide smooth stablility and support over all terrains – including countryside tracks, grass and snow. The three-wheel configuration ensures a user’s body weight is evenly distributed for improved traction, whilst the design is efficient to propel and easy to transport in a car.

Having looked into her disability benefits, Heather felt confident that she could afford monthly payments for a privately owned wheelchair and discovered her nearest approved supplier on the Trekinetic website – Recare Ltd in Kettering, Oxfordshire.

As a long-standing mobility and rehabilitation equipment specialist, family-run Recare supports individuals with disabilities through clinically-led assessments and equipment prescription. It is well known for its in-house technical expertise which provides servicing and bespoke adaptations of advanced hi-tech equipment. As a reputable and respected Trekinetic supplier, Heather approached Recare for a test-drive of the GTE. In particular, she wanted to see what the GTE powerchair was capable of on grass, so she could access more locations independently, as well as reassurance that the product would be less tiring for her to drive.

Heather continues:

“My Recare test-drive lasted about an hour and was really good. Not getting fatigued was a totally new experience! I was able to trial the GTE on grass and go uphill and it was so easy. I’m used to getting so tired in my manual wheelchair – especially on grass. Plus, my hips can easily move out of place on uneven and bumpy terrain. But with the GTE, I felt incredibly supported by the curved seat.”

Trekinetic’s unique carbon fibre seat is ergonomically moulded to follow the contours of the body, so this minimises pressure and provides support. In addition, the unique rear shock absorber also ensures a smooth and comfortable ride. It acts as a tilt-in-space mechanism which alters the seat angle and user weight distribution for effective pressure management.  

Following her outdoor trial, Heather immediately decided to place an order for a GTE. Recare provided a clinical assessment to ensure a Trekinetic would be configured to her exact requirements. As Heather is tall, Recare recommended a seat extension and she opted for a lap belt for added reassurance. Recare also recommended lightweight, aluminium folding handlebars to enable Heather to fold her GTE down and stow independently in the car.

Heather explains:

“Recare were really helpful during and after the assessment. I was a little anxious about the wheelchair fitting into my small car, but I needn’t have worried as it fits perfectly. During the pandemic, my carer has been with me a lot and he finds the GTE really easy to fold down for car journeys. Having tried it myself, I’m confident that when I’m able to mix more freely, I will be able to travel independently. I will be able to visit country parks that were inaccessible to me before and I can’t wait to go to the beach when restrictions are lifted. My partner Declan says he now needs to purchase an electric bike to keep up with me! Everything is going really well so far – but it’s reassuring to know that if I have any questions or need any adjustments then I can rely on Recare’s professional expertise.”