Rhys regains independence at top speed thanks to a futuristic F1 all-terrain wheelchair from Recare
Rhys, aged eight from Leicester with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, is once again enjoying fun times with his younger brother and school mates thanks to a Formula-One-inspired all-terrain paediatric powerchair from Recare.
Rhys is a bright young boy who lives near Leicester with his parents and younger brother. Despite having mobility challenges due to a disability, Rhys continues to excel academically at school and has recently discovered greater independence through this pioneering type of powered wheelchair. The British-built Trekinetic GTE is a state-of-the-art powerchair that has appeared in several films and is built with technology developed in F1 racing. Rhys came to own this inspiring piece of off-road design through one of its leading distributors – Recare. This respected, family-run company provides specialist mobility and rehabilitation equipment to disabled individuals of all ages. Recare has specified and supplied an ultra-lightweight Trekinetic, which has ‘brought the “fun-ness” back to Rhys’ life’ as his dad Graham says.
The journey to owning this life-changing product began in the summer of 2020 when the family were on holiday in Devon. They were struggling to help push Rhys along a gravel path when Graham decided they needed to find a better off-road alternative:
“As a family, we have always enjoyed days out in the countryside together. However, navigating uneven ground was always a nightmare. We were all getting tired of these ‘bone-shaking’ experiences for Rhys, so I decided to investigate all-terrain wheelchairs. There must be a better way of getting around. It just so happened that soon after, we decided to support another family fundraising for a wheelchair – they were seeking a Trekinetic for their son, who also had Duchenne. This kit looked fantastic, and I quickly realised that there was nothing quite like it anywhere else on the market after researching online. In August, I contacted Trekinetic, and they put me in touch with their specialist supplier Recare who came out to do a clinical assessment of Rhys – it was the beginning of something special.”
Rhys has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative muscle wasting and life-limiting condition currently affecting Rhys’ walking ability. This means he needs to use a wheelchair full-time to remain mobile; however, due to the complexity of his condition the product must be tailored specifically to his needs. Therefore, Recare were the first choice for the family as they have decades of experience and a vast range of specialist paediatric products.
Recare visited Rhys with two strictly Covid-safe home assessments, including a test drive in his favourite local country park, Bradgate Park. This scenic open space has several steep slopes, allowing Rhys and his family to trial whether the wheelchair had the power and stability to climb and descend safely. Graham continues:
“It was exciting to see if the chair could cope with the slopes during Rhys’ assessment ‘will it, won’t it get up there?’ we thought. Rhys grasped driving pretty quickly, and the Trekinetic’ ate up’ all the steep inclines and put such a smile on Rhys’ face – he didn’t want to get out of it at the end of the trial. We all knew immediately it was the piece of kit we had to get.”
With finances limited, the family had to fundraise to purchase the Trekinetic GTE and remarkably hit their target as early as December. Graham was astounded by the generosity of everyone: “We couldn’t believe how quickly we managed to fundraise the purchase price through a combination of generous donations from a lot of kind people and a sizable contribution from a local company, organised via one of Rhys’ teachers. We are so lucky and will never forget everyone’s generosity. The exceptional service from Recare has also helped – form their initial assessment and communication that’s kept us up to date, through to handover and aftercare, first-class all the way.”
Rhys’ powerchair was delivered in February 2021, and he has not looked back since. His mobility is no longer limited, and Rhys is far happier – in ‘bucket loads’, as his dad puts it. Graham adds:
“We can honestly say this powerchair has been transformational. Since owning the GTE, our family days out are completely different. We can go to places that were a ‘no go’ before with his manual wheelchair. Rhys powers up slopes without apprehension. However, he’s a good lad and a bit more cautious coming down and when rocks get in the way! His younger brother loves running alongside him – it’s great to see the fun back in their lives when they are playing together.”
“His brother can also ride his bike alongside Rhys, so the frustration they were both having has now gone. The Trekinetic lets Rhys be a boy again so they can muck around together. It’s not just weekends that are different. The powerchair allows Rhys to enjoy playtime with his mates at school again. We walk about a mile to school each day with Rhys in his Trekinetic, and he tends to transfer out into his manual chair when he gets into class. However, in the playground or for PE, Rhys is back in his powerchair. The battery life is amazing; he’s never run out at school or if we are out for the day. We do have two batteries if needed. We’ve also been impressed with its lightweight design and how easy it is to fold and get in the car’s boot. However, when you asked Rhys what he thinks is the best feature, he always says it’s top speed!”
Family life is now much easier for the family, and Rhys’ stunning powerchair is regularly a talking point for everyone:
“As my wife and I are both designers, design is a big part of our lives. Therefore we fully appreciate the quality of the Trekinetic and its striking looks and innovative components such as carbon fibre. Passers-by regularly comment on Rhys’ chair in terms of it looking so cool, and even the quality branded tyres are mentioned. One of the major factors we feel so positive about is people’s perception and attitude towards Rhys when in his powerchair. It’s seen as a cool product as he is, too – especially when he’s wearing his shades and baseball cap! The GTE lets Rhys show what a bright and intelligent boy he is. He continues to excel academically, so why should he be different to anyone else in what he can do? His powerchair is a leveller; it lets him be whom he wants to be.”