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Derek Herrera is lucky to be alive. A marine special operations officer, he was just seven weeks into a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, when the team he was leading found themselves in the midst of an intense enemy firefight. Thousands of bullets raged all around them – chaos was in the air.

One bullet hit Derek square in the shoulder, wedging itself in his spine at the T6 level. He slumped over, realising he was in trouble – his body no longer seemed to be working from the chest down. He wondered how he could possibly make it out of the war zone to get medical help.

“You’re not only fearing for your injury, but for your life.”

But these are the situations military forces have been trained to deal with. Thanks to the incredibly heroic feats of his squad, Derek was able to be evacuated from the scene along with another critically injured surgeon. Medics leapt into action to stabilise Derek’s condition while the rest of the squad repelled enemy attack. This allowed the Medevac helicopters to land and evacuate the injured marines.

I was just really happy to be alive and was really fortunate to have made it out of that situation.

Derek HerreraMed Tech Inventor

Derek’s next memory was waking up in a hospital in Camp Bastion, joint base for US and international forces. He remembers explicitly listening to the doctor tell him he may never walk again, how their eyes locked as he processed the information he’d been told. Deep down Derek knew what had happened to him from the moment he felt the bullet bite his back.

As he lay in his hospital bed, Derek’s immediate concern was not for himself but for his wife. Calling her with the news of his injury was hard but became his first step towards making a strong recovery.

“It was incredibly challenging, but we were just happy I was alive to make that call.”

Many of Derek’s friends who served weren’t given the same opportunity to phone home themselves, so he was grateful he could. His rehabilitation involved a fair bit of travel as he was shifted through medical centres, from Afghanistan to Germany until finally he was back home in the US.

Upon arriving home, Derek was initially placed in the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland. He spent several days there until he was transferred for the third time to a Veterans Affairs Hospital. The nature of his spinal cord injury meant Derek was no longer able to serve in the military, which lost him the funding that had been paying for his medical care up to that point.

As a result he was transferred yet again to a hospital for former military service members, a Veterans Affair hospital in Tampa, Florida. It was here the reality of his injury started to sink in.

In retrospect, one of the most traumatic aspects was the loss of his physicality. His life as a  marine had been extremely physically demanding – constantly running, swimming and working out. Having that part of his identity ripped from him so suddenly was hard to come to terms with and Derek found himself having to delve deep and find himself again in his new body.

Initially, his outlook on life was naively positive – he’d just survived an insanely dangerous situation in Afghanistan. Despite doctors explaining to him how he might never walk again, the ‘might’ gave him a glimmer of hope and he was prepared to be on his feet again in six weeks.

Looking back, Derek sees his mindset in both a positive and negative light. On one hand, he’d had the motivation to stay alive while his other injuries healed. But it also meant he had a greater height to fall from emotionally as the realisation dawned on him that his paralysis was perhaps more permanent than anticipated.

“You’re easily thinking about all the things that have been taken from you. It just took time for me to push through.”

It was especially frustrating for Derek being stuck in a hospital bed in the US, while his squad was still in Afghanistan fighting. His wife and kids were also growing as a family. Derek was supposed to be their leader and supporter but he could no longer fulfil those roles the same way.

He started to isolate himself and dwell on these facts. In this moment, the only saving grace from the darkness he’d slipped into was surrounding himself with a sense of community and staying in contact with the people who mattered to him however he could; whether that was by calling his squad mates on a satellite phone, or the support from his loving wife.

When he found himself stuck, he’d remind himself to work hard for them in the ways he could: by ensuring a good recovery.

Don’t shut down, communicate what you’re feeling so they can support you.

Derek HerreraMed Tech Inventor

His next point of call was finding himself a new sense of fulfilment with the changes his future now held. While he couldn’t be with his squad commanding on the battlefield, Derek still wanted to contribute what he could. He felt as though he needed to get back to somewhere he had value.

As soon as he could, he took on administrative duties for the military. He quickly found the more he worked, the more progress he made emotionally and physically in his recovery. It wasn’t long before he found himself applying to business school, something he never imagined doing prior to his accident.

Derek’s experience as a student was phenomenal, attending a school that was very accessible both physically and financially. Besides he discovered that as a wheelchair user, there wasn’t anything other students were doing that he couldn’t do.

“Go back to school if you have a good idea of why you’re doing it. If you know where you want to go, it’s really good to help you get there.”

While at university, he discovered a lot about the unmet needs for those with spinal injuries. Pondering on those unmet needs transformed into what is now Spinal Singularity. They focus on simplifying the complicated multitude of different technologies around the world that solve issues for those with spinal cord injuries. Derek has dedicated five years to setting up this company, which was officially established just two years ago.

The company’s current focus is set on simplifying technologies that resolve bladder management issues for those with spinal cord injuries. One of their products is a catheter that can be controlled by the push of a button.

Spinal Singularity has done incredibly well in terms of progress which makes perfect sense when you grasp the level of passion that radiates from the team, led by Derek. In 2018, they carried out two clinical studies and are actively enrolling for their third for 2019. With this data, they hope to qualify for the CE mark approval and the FDA regulatory clearance by early 2020.

“We started with a napkin sketch years ago and we’ve turned that into a real device.”

The way Derek views his company is astonishing. He truly values helping as many people as possible over the financial gain of doing so.

“Five years will pay off because if we could do this, it could just help a lot of people and improve their lives in a meaningful way.”

Derek Herrera is now enjoying what he considers to be one of the best joys of his life: being a father to his 19-month-old twin boys with his devoted wife. Raising them and seeing them grow is something he definitely looks forward to in the future. He would say for any other couples to remember the importance of what you’re working towards together.

Focus on what brought you together and the fact that you want to stay together.

Derek HerreraMed Tech Inventor

Remembering that being married and staying married is a commitment you make every day. And if you need, sometimes taking a moment from your own feelings and considering how your partner feels can help. By taking the focus off yourself, by default your relationship can find a rhythm and flourish to something even bigger than it was.

If you’d rather listen than read…

Listen to the Podcast with Derek Herrera now.

Never Drop Anything Again

The LapStacker®

Carry items on your lap with confidence using the world’s first retractable strap system for wheelchairs.

Retractor Location Guide - Lower Horizontal Frame Tube

Watch the video or read on below
Play Video
Brackets Used

If you choose to mount the Retractors from the lower horizontal frame tube you’ll receive two 90 Brackets (as seen below) – one for the left and one for the right side of your chair.

The Retractors slot onto these Brackets, which are then attached vertically to the Lower Horizontal Frame Tube using Clamps.

Bracket Orientation

The Brackets have a tilt feature which allows you to adjust the angle of the Retractor so that it is parallel to the Keeper, for the smoothest operation.

Key Dimensions

The clamps are 16mm or ⅝” wide

The maximum distance from the centre of the Clamp to the centre of the Retractor webbing when mounted on the 90 Bracket is 70mm (3″).

Retractor Dimensions
The Retractors themselves are 75mm wide by 50mm high or 3×2″
Moving Other Attachments

Finally, it is worth noting that other attachments, such as brakes and side guard clamps can often be moved to accommodate the LapStacker® without compromising their function.

Need Help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given, it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to help.

Retractor Location Guide - Front Vertical Frame Tube

Play Video
Brackets Used

If you choose to mount the Retractors from the front vertical frame tube you’ll receive two Flat Brackets (as seen below) – one for the left and one for the right side of your chair.

The Retractors slot onto these Brackets, which are then attached to the front vertical frame tube using clamps.
Bracket Orientation

The Brackets have a single long slot and rotate feature, which provides plenty of adjustability so that you can align the Retractor webbing with the centre of the Keeper. 

Key Dimensions

The clamps are 16mm or ⅝” wide.

The maximum distance from the centre of the Clamp to the centre of the Retractor webbing when mounted on the Flat Bracket is 105mm (4 1/8″).

If the front vertical frame tube is too far forward to allow the Retractor webbing to align with your optimal Keeper position, or you don’t think you’ll have clearance from your legs, you may need to consider other Retractor locations available for your make and model.

The Retractors themselves are 75mm wide by 50mm high or 3×2″

Moving Other Attachments

Finally, it is worth noting that other attachments, such as brakes and side guard clamps can often be moved to accommodate the LapStacker® without compromising their function.

Need Help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given and it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us, or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to help.

Retractor Location Guide - Cross Frame Rigidizer Bar

Play Video
Brackets Used

If you choose to mount the Retractors from the cross frame rigidizer bar, you’ll receive two Cross Tube Brackets (as seen below) – one for the left and one for the right side of your chair.

The Retractors slot onto these Brackets, which are then attached to the cross frame rigidizer bar using clamps.

Bracket Orientation

The Brackets have slots in them to allow plenty of adjustability so that you can align the Retractor webbing with the centre of the Keeper.

Key Dimensions

The clamps are 16mm or ⅝” wide.

The maximum distance from the centre of the Clamp to the centre of the Retractor webbing when mounted on the Cross Tube Bracket is 90mm ( 3.5″).

The Retractors themselves are 75mm wide by 50mm high or 3×2″

Leg Clearance

Please note, there must be clearance from the back of your legs, so we suggest mounting the Bracket and Retractor back a little bit from the edge of your cushion.

Seat Clearance

The Brackets are best tilted slightly downward, so the Retractors don’t touch the seat when the chair is in use.

Moving Other Attachments

Finally, it is worth noting that other attachments, such as brakes and side guard clamps can often be moved to accommodate the LapStacker® without compromising their function.

Need Help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given, it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us, or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to help.

Retractor Guide – Frame Top Tube

Play Video
Brackets Used

If you choose to mount the Retractors from the frame top tube, you’ll receive two 90 Brackets (as seen below). One for the left and one for the right side of your chair.

The Retractors slot onto these Brackets, which are then attached to the top tube using clamps.

Bracket Orientation

Depending on what clearance you have available, the Brackets can be mounted forward of the clamp (above) or behind the clamp (below) to ensure that the Retractor webbing can align with the optimal keeper position.

The Brackets have a tilt feature which allows you to adjust the angle of the Retractor so that it is parallel to the Keeper, for the smoothest operation.

Key Dimensions

The clamps are 16mm or ⅝” wide.

The maximum distance from the centre of the clamp to the centre of the Retractor webbing when mounted on the 90 Bracket is 70mm or 3″.

The Retractors themselves are 75mm wide by 50mm high or 3×2″

Recommended Configuration

The Brackets are best mounted horizontally and tilted slightly downward, so the Retractors are tucked away and don’t touch the seat when the chair is in use.

 

It is very important to note that there must be clearance from the back of your legs, so we suggest mounting the Bracket and Retractor back a little bit from the edge of your cushion.

Moving Other Attachments
Finally, it is worth noting that other attachments, such as brakes and side guard clamps can often be moved to accommodate the LapStacker® clamp without compromising their function.
Need Help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given and it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us and we’ll do our best to assist.

Side Guard Keeper Guide

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Introduction
The Side Guard Keeper is what we consider the last resort. It is only recommended after the Long and Short Keepers have been exhausted as options.
How is the Side Guard Keeper Mounted?

The Side Guard Keeper mounts inside, or cushion side, of your side guards (otherwise known as the wheel guards or clothing guards). It is fixed in place using an adhesive patch. 

 

It is not recommended for fabric side guards, although it can work there with some custom modification.

When is the Side Guard Keeper an Option?

The Side Guard Keeper could be an option when there is not enough space for a Long or Short Keeper and the side guard extends sufficiently forward of your body so that it comes close to the optimal Keeper position.

Some wheelchair makes such as the Hands on Concept range of chairs have oversized side guards and these are good examples of where a side guard can work.

Recommended Configuration

We recommend the Side Guard Keeper is located so it doesn’t sit higher than your cushion. 

 

From the testing we have done in that location, it should not interfere with the body or be a problem for skin pressure. We do recommend CAUTION and suggest that this is assessed carefully.
Retractor Alignment

Remember, the Keeper must align with the Retractor webbing so please keep this in mind as you review the Retractor Location Guides.

Need Help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given and it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us, or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to assist.

Short Keeper Guide

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Mounting Options

The Short Keeper can be mounted to your wheelchair frame’s top tube in three ways.

1. Snap-Fit Mount

If your wheelchair has a 1” or 25mm frame top tube, the Short Keeper will be supplied with a snap fitting that is simply pressed in place onto the tubing. 

The Short Keeper is then fastened to the snap fitting and can be fine-tuned by sliding it forward and back, before tightening the bolt with the supplied allen key.

 

You’ll require 1” or 25mm of relatively flat clear space on the tubing for the snap fit mount and 55mm or 2 3/16” for the Short Keeper itself.

2. Universal Mount

If your wheelchair has a frame top tube diameter that is any size other than 1” or 25mm then a universal mount will be supplied.

The universal mount attaches via two supplied cable ties and requires 1 ⅜” or 35mm of relatively flat space on the frame top tubing to be mounted effectively.

 

Again, the position of the Short Keeper can then be fine tuned by sliding it forward and back on the universal mount.

3. Direct Mount

The Short Keeper can also be mounted directly to the tubing without the snap fit or universal mount using the supplied cable ties and rubber pad. 

Common Scenarios

There are three common scenarios where the Short Keeper is used.

Scenario 1 - Folding Wheelchairs

The first scenario is for folding wheelchairs (as below) that have a separate seat frame that moves up and down as it folds.

In this scenario the Short Keeper fixes to the frame top tube, not the seat frame, so that when the seat frame moves up and down the Short Keeper does not move.

 

If you have a folding wheelchair that doesn’t have a separate seat frame that moves up and down independently of the main frame, then the Long Keeper may be the better option for you.

Scenario 2 - Forward of the Seat Base

When there is not enough space to Velcro a Long Keeper to the solid or upholstery seat base, a Short Keeper can be mounted forward of your seat base provided there is enough flat area of tubing to mount it. 

 

Please refer to the three mounting options above to determine if you have enough space to mount the Short Keeper in this position.

Important Note - Leg Clearance

It is important to note, that in all cases where the Short Keeper is mounted forward of the seat base, the Retractors should NOT be located horizontally off the frame top tube or cross frame rigidizer bar as they will be in the way of your legs.

 

In this case, the Retractors will need to be mounted from the lower horizontal frame tube or the front vertical frame tube if these options are available for your chair. 

More about these locations is provided in the Retractor Location Guides.

Space for Hands

If you use your frame top tube as a hand hold for transfers then you may want to consider how much space you will have available after mounting the Short Keeper, remembering that it is 55mm (2 3/16”) wide. 

 

If there is insufficient space on top, you may consider mounting the Short Keeper directly under the top tube (as shown above) to give you more clearance.

Scenario 3 - With Strap/Belt Seat Upholstery

The Short Keeper may be suitable for rigid wheelchairs that use a strap/belt system for their seat base, particularly when there are doubts about aligning the Long Keeper up with these straps, or the surface area available to fix the adhesive velcro. 

 

This is covered in more detail in the Long Keeper Guide.

Retractor Alignment

Remember, the Keeper must align with the Retractor webbing so you may have to come back to the Keeper guides to double check your choice after you’ve reviewed the Retractor Location Guides.

Please Note

Unless asked, you do not have to know the frame top tube diameter of your wheelchair as this is automatically selected for you based on your make and model. 

Need Help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given, it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to help.

Long Keeper Guide

Play Video
Space Required for the Long Keeper

The Long Keeper requires 55mm or 2 3/16” of space on your solid or upholstery seat base forward of any side guards.

Is There Enough Room?

Do you have this room available? Will the location of the Keeper be close to your optimal position? If so, then the Long Keeper could work for you.

How is it Attached?

The Long Keeper attaches to the rigid or upholstery seat base, using adhesive Velcro which is provided. 

It is worth noting that an upholstery seat base or strap system often has velcro sewn into it already and this can be used in addition to the Velcro provided.

What About Strap/Belt Style Seat Upholstery?

If you have a strap system for your seat base, then you will need to determine if there is a strap close enough to your optimal Keeper position to velcro or tape the Long Keeper to.

You may be able to move the straps so that they are inline with your preferred Keeper position and if a strap already has Velcro on it, you may be able to use this in addition to the velcro supplied.

If the strap can’t be moved or you’re not sure you can stick the Long Keeper to it, then selecting the Short Keeper (shown below), which attaches directly to the top frame tube of your wheelchair, may be a better option. You can learn more in the Short Keeper Guide.

What About Folding Wheelchairs?

If you have a folding wheelchair with a rising seat frame the Long Keeper won’t be suitable and a Short Keeper will be a better option.

Retractor alignment

The other factor that is important is making sure the webbing from the Retractor lines up with the optimal Keeper position.

Need help?

If this is the only option you’ve been given, it doesn’t look like it will work, or you’ve still got questions, then please contact us or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to help.

Keeper Location Overview

Play Video
Choosing the Best Keeper Location

While in your wheelchair look down at your side and imagine using the LapStacker® to secure an item. Find the midpoint for this object and take a note of where this position is on your wheelchair frame’s top tube.

Ideally, the Keepers are positioned central to where you will carry items, but the LapStacker® will still work if forward or back of this point. 

Keeper and Retractor Alignment

It is important to note that the Keeper needs to be in a position where the webbing from the Retractor can pass freely up into the Keeper and they also need to be aligned. 

Keeper Guides

Each Keeper style has its own Guide which will help you determine its suitability. Please review these guides in the next step of the selection process. 

Need help?

If, for some reason, none of the Keeper options look like they will work for you, or you’re unsure of something, then please feel free to contact us, or your preferred reseller, and we’ll do our best to help.

Key Component Overview

Play Video
Retractors

Every LapStacker® Set has two Retractors (seen below) – one for each side of your wheelchair. These contain the tensioned strap and locking mechanism.

Retractor Locations

Depending on your wheelchair make and model, you’ll be given a number of options for where the Retractors can be mounted. 

These locations include the frame top tube, the cross frame rigidizer bar, the front vertical frame tube, and lastly, the lower horizontal frame tube which is common on folding chairs and dual tube rigid wheelchairs.

Clamps and Brackets

The Retractors mount to the wheelchair frame using a specific Clamp and Bracket (there are many types, including the 90 Bracket and  1″ Clamp seen below). 

These are both automatically selected once your preferred Retractor mounting location is chosen.

They are made from high quality and lightweight aluminium, with a stylish anodized finish.

Buckles

The Buckles attach to the Retractor straps. They use high strength magnets to guide the two sides together, then lock mechanically as the straps tighten.

They are precision machined from aircraft grade aluminium for strength and anodized for a stylish finish.

 

The Buckles are held in place by your side using Keepers. 

Keepers

We’ve designed three styles of Keeper and you’ll be asked to choose one from the available options for your chair. 

Long Keeper

The Long Keeper velcros to the wheelchair seat upholstery, or rigid seat base.

Short Keeper

The Short Keeper connects directly to the frame top tube.

Side Guard Keeper

The Side Guard Keeper mounts on the cushion side of a wheelchair’s side guards

Are you eligible?

Adaptdefy Ltd. is a VAT registered company; therefore purchases from customers within the EU are subject to UK Value Added Tax (VAT) at 20%.

You will be eligible for exemption from VAT, however, if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect upon your ability to carry out everyday activities
  • You have a condition that the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness
  • You are terminally ill
  • You are making the purchase on behalf of your spouse or child, who meets one of the above criteria
  • You are purchasing from outside the European Union (EU)

You will not normally be eligible for exemption from VAT if:

  • You, or the person you are buying for, intends to use the products for business purposes (personal and domestic use is okay)
  • The products will not be used by a particular individual or individuals but chronically sick or disabled people in general

By entering your name and/or disability in the checkout you are making a written declaration that you are eligible for VAT exemption. Adaptdefy Ltd. will hold your details alongside your declaration in case of a query by the UK Tax Office (HMRC). You do not need to prove your eligibility at point of purchase, but may be required to do so by HMRC at a future date.

If you are not eligible for VAT exemption please leave the VAT exemption fields blank. VAT at 20% will automatically be added to orders within the UK or European Union.