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A sophomore in college, Erik Kondo played lacrosse and football, was a member of the hiking club and was majoring in physics and maths. He was loving life – until a motorcycle accident sent him reeling.

“I was very fortunate in this case…I didn’t have to get rods or anything. I didn’t really have any other secondary complication…I was in pretty good shape.”

In pretty good shape that is, except for being paralysed and needing to use a wheelchair. That was 30 years ago in the 1980s, when rehabilitation was a very different space to what it is now.

There certainly wasn’t a lot of information. The rehab that I went to, there was only one other person there with a spinal cord injury… they were relatively unfamiliar with how to deal with spinal cord injury.

Erik KondoWheelchair Boarding Pioneer

During that time rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury usually took about six months. But Erik has always been goal driven, and he had one focus: get out of hospital as soon as possible. He knew if he took too long he would miss his second semester of university and if this was the case, that would mean waiting until the following September before enrolling again. He couldn’t have that.

In five weeks he was out, back with his life and friends, barely stopping for a second to dwell on the accident that had just changed his life.

There was one thing though that he felt he was missing out on as a wheelchair user. And that was balanced based skill activities, like skateboarding.

“I was fortunate that 25 years ago, I got a two wheel hand cycle… I’ve been able to ride and balance… and because of that I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of balancing.”

But the only balance based activities he could think of were skiing and cycling. It wasn’t until about four years ago, when he saw another person in a wheelchair on a regular longboard that he felt inspired.

So he began experimenting. He added a motor to the board, because without one, he was pretty limited, and from there it just kept growing.

“I just kept thinking, well what’s the next thing I can do?”

From skateboards, to snowboards, to longboards, and now finally his latest idea – an adaptable hoverboard, which he entered into the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge. Erik received the discovery award for his idea and received some funds to help him develop it more.

“I created it as part of this Toyota mobility contest I entered in recently. But what it is, is sort of the outgrowth of my interest in personal mobility.”

Today he’s helping to change the lives of other people living with spinal cord injuries, with his new venture, Red Pill Innovations.

As a T4/T5 paraplegic, Erik has very little core muscles – but finds he can maintain his balance on his adaptable boards.

“The minute I use my hands for anything other than support, I lose my ability to functionally

balance. So one of the things that I found with the wheelchair boarding stuff is because

I’m always holding on to the wheels, and that’s my form of balance.”

For Erik, variability is important. The great thing about his skateboard is that he can hop on it and whizz around, up and down his own driveway. But his longboard is a different matter. It can reach speeds of 20 miles an hour, so Erik usually takes it out on the bike path near his home, where his kids can cycle along with him. He also designed a landboard, for more off-road terrains and trails. Highly functional devices, with only one big challenge: mounting them.

“I’ve made it pretty unstable to increase the manoeuvrability of it… it’s like jumping a curb that’s multiple inches high, except for the fact the curb moves.”

The best part about the boards is changing up the direction of movement from always going forward to going sideways.

“And going sideways creates a completely different feeling of mobility. I totally transformed the wheelchair experience from feeling like a wheelchair to feeling like something completely different. Because when you’re in a wheelchair and you lean backwards, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna fall over.’ But when you’re on a skateboard when you lean backwards, you turn now, huh? Which is just amazing.”

While Erik doesn’t make and sell these products, he encourages people to check out his Facebook page ‘Wheelchair Boarding’ and his website https://www.redpillinnovations.com, where he uploads videos and photos of things he’s working on. The beauty of these boards is there’s no real complex technology involved.

“And that’s what’s so cool about it. So for $100, you can make some very simple brackets out of metal, you can screw them onto your longboard. This is actually one of the few sports that you can get into for a very small amount of money. When you consider what everything else costs, an off-road bike costs $10,000 so I’m talking literally hundreds of dollars here.”

While Erik didn’t make the finals of the Toyota contest, he is just glad he had the opportunity to prove a point.

“Look, you can use existing products that that already exist for able bodied people, modify them relatively cheaply, and, and be able to do something. So instead of having, you know, to spend thousands of thousands of dollars, maybe you can spend hundreds of dollars.”

All in all he believes there’s a big disconnect between what engineers and designers of mobility products think wheelchair users want, and what they actually want.

I think what happens is, is that you can talk to any designer and engineer and they give lip service to this idea of talking to the end user. So they all recognize it's important, but they don't really take it to that next level.

Erik KondoWheelchair Boarding Pioneer

Every now and again Erik gets emails from different design organisations who want to make a wheelchair that can climb staircases. But for a device like this you’ve got to be realistic.

“What they don’t ask is, how much more weight are you willing to carry always for those opportunities to climb stairs? And that’s a different question.”

The amount of weight a person in a wheelchair would have to carry around constantly in order to be able to climb stair is substantial, but the designers never think to ask that question.

“So people come up with crazy contraptions designed to climb stairs that nobody will ever use, because they’re not taking in the totality of the issue.”

His number one advice for other people in wheelchairs is to experiment and find out what works for them, because there is no one master resource that applies to everyone’s needs. Most of all he calls for people to keep pushing boundaries.

“We’re trying to push boundaries, push the limits of what is possible, and we’re not saying that everybody is going to do that, or everybody wants to do it, but you have to push the boundaries, because otherwise, there is no innovation. And it’s the cutting level of innovation that makes that creates the opportunity for everyone else.”

You can follow Erik’s blog for more information and inspiration!

If you’d rather listen than read…

Listen to the Podcast with Erik Kondo now.

Currency

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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