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In 2015, two days after Helen Smith handed in her PhD in Ecology, disaster struck. Climbing out of the last section of a canyon she had been exploring with friends, the rock she was relying on to keep her safe gave way.

“I ended up falling 12 metres (30-40 feet), and I remember waking up not feeling my legs thinking ‘hmmm, that’s bad, that’s not good’.”

I ended up falling 12 metres (30-40 feet), and I remember waking up not feeling my legs thinking ‘hmmm, that’s bad, that’s not good’.

Helen SmithBush Wheeling Adventurer

Looking back, Helen relives the conundrum she and her friends found themselves in.

She had broken her back in three places, punctured a lung and the canyon environment created an immense challenge for rescue.

“We were unsure whether our personal locator beacon would be picked up within the canyon, and we were unsure of what approach to take. Do we send someone to seek help on foot..do they stay with me? Meanwhile the clock was ticking…”

“I didn’t know how long we waited. As it turned out, it was about 2 hours before we heard the sound of a helicopter coming towards us.”

“The paramedics on the helicopter are just amazing guys. They were fantastic.”

Helen was airlifted to the Sydney North Shore Hospital where she underwent surgery very quickly to insert rods into her back. She remained there for six weeks and a further three months in rehab.

You get a clear sense for the type of person Helen is from the way she talks about her accident.  

As a self-described optimist, Helen knows how lucky she is to have such a “positively naive” outlook on life. When shit hits the fan, Helen’s mindset helps her rollover pretty much anything.

“I really think my positive outlook is the main characteristic that continues to shape my life for the better.”

Positivity is a trait that comes up time and time again with Adaptdefiers and Helen is no exception.

Having spent many years of her life before her injury exploring & experiencing the beautiful Australian outback, deliberately choosing a professional & personal path that would allow her to spend as much time there, the accident left her uncertain if she’d ever enjoy that again.

So that’s how I celebrated completing my PhD...it’s not really how I planned on finishing it.

Helen SmithBush Wheeling Adventurer

“The doctors told me & my family very quickly that I wouldn’t walk again. On a logical level I understood that absolutely. We were also told in some cases the doctors are wrong & I guess my super optimistic brain gave myself the six weeks in hospital to be open to the idea I would be one of the exceptions.”

Helen acknowledges that reaching the six week mark having not made the kind of progress that she & others were holding out for was harder than hearing the news for the first time six weeks earlier.

Moving through rehab and back into the community, it really struck her how disconnected you can feel adjusting to a new life in a wheelchair. The things you think and talk about left her asking the question what do I have in common with my community now?

“The first 2 years post-injury was a real grieving period for me. When you study a PhD its a period in your life when you are completely the master of your own destiny. You can study what you like and how you like it. I loved the fact I could do a 100 Km bush walk whenever I liked and  that was the kind of woman I was. The feeling of never being able to do that again, to have that kind of freedom, was really hard to come to terms with.”

Helen’s injury didn’t hold her down for long though. In rehab she got talking to folks about her love of bush walking and was told there were plenty of “accessible paths” out there that would allow her to get back into the wilderness.

However, Helen quickly realised the common definition of wheelchair accessible outdoor spaces – smooth, concreted tracks 50 to 100 metres long – was not her idea of fun. In true Helen fashion, she set about changing that reality and dove into a pursuit of real dirt track experiences, combining equipment and assistance from others to help her access the “real outdoors”.

Some of the innovations Helen uses to help her & her supporters are fantastic. One example of this is a climbing rope & harness set-up that allows her friends to help pull her through sections of a trip where assistance is required. She calls this Huskying. She also frequently uses $30 K-Mart inflatable rafts to travel down rivers after bush wheeling for several days.

Coming to accept and cherish the support of others has been huge for Helen and realising that you don’t need all the equipment and gear that can weigh you down It’s really opened up the world again, bringing new connections with groups excited about what she is doing.

So that’s how I celebrated completing my PhD...it’s not really how I planned on finishing it.

Helen SmithBush Wheeling Adventurer

Helen had done so much travel around the Australia and the Americas, relishing the low maintenance way she liked to travel. Very little gear was her thing. But in her new life, Helen struggled with how reliant she was going to be on gear & equipment. It was just another reminder of how different her pre and post injury life was.

In 2016 Helen was awarded a Churchill Fellowship – one of 50 awarded each year – that allowed her to travel the world & meet other Adaptdefiers doing similar work in extending access to the outdoors for wheelchair users.

The intention behind the travel was to learn about different approaches to making the outdoors more accessible & bring them back to Australia to implement.

This year Helen did part of the Camino Trail in Spain – about 250 Km to be precise – and she said it was awesome.

“We were pushing 20 Kms a day. Even though they were European trails (not raw backcountry stuff), the experience got me closer to the feeling that doing an extended wilderness expedition is possible.”

Helen doesn’t limit her adventure to the dirt tracks. She has paddled into the world of kayaking, completing a course in New Zealand to learn how to have fun & independence on the water.

“Learning to roll a kayak & right it is such a mental challenge.”

Although Helen hasn’t mastered it yet saying that a hundred days in a pool is probably what she needs, she has joined the outrigger canoe community in Canberra, Australia where she lives to broaden her water fix. Not stopping there, Helen also dove into the world world of scuba diving (pardon the pun) recently & absolutely loves it.

Helen’s adventurous spirit & commitment to pushing what she and others think is possible, makes her a true Adaptdefier. Travelling & adventuring with as much independence as practical is what drives Helen. On long weekends Helen will be out there doing a 50 Km push through the outback, or if she has more time, taking a couple of weeks to explore Australia’s national parks.

In pursuit of her passion for adventure & love of sharing it with others, Helen is inspiring many others to defy what they think is possible & get back out there in the great outdoors.

If you’d rather listen than read…

Listen to the Podcast with Helen Smith now.

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Retractor Location Guide - Lower Horizontal Frame Tube

Watch the video or read on below
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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

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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