If you’ve visited my blog recently, you’ll probably know that my active user wheelchair had to be sent off to the manufacturer to be fixed again. Unfortunately, this occurred when I was supposed to travel down to Essex to have my colourimetry test done. This is the tests that determined the colour of my precision tinted lenses and is very important. As wheelchair services had leant me the Action 3NG again, which I can’t push myself, I had no idea how I’d make it to my appointment. The lovely people at Easy Living Mobility came to my rescue by lending me the Pride I-Go to review and get me to my appointment.
I’m going to start by saying that unfortunately, the Pride I-Go isn’t right for me. I was really hoping that it would be a more affordable alternative to power assist wheels, but it just won’t work for me as a long term option. Now, that doesn’t mean that the I-Go isn’t a good product. A feature that doesn’t work for me might be perfect for someone else. Wheelchair are very personal things and there are lots of aspects of the Pride I-Go that I really like. If you’re considering a Pride I-Go (or any wheelchair) the you really do need to try before you buy to make sure that it meets your personal needs.
Pride I-Go: Transporting
Five different people tried the Pride I-Go in three different cars and the results of this were mixed. Weighing 19.kg without batteries, the I-Go fitted into the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen Golf and a Volkswagen Up. Mu Uncle found it easy to put this folding power chair into the Golf. My Dad and sister (who also has hEDS) made no complaints about putting the chair into the Golf and Up. However, my husband struggled with putting the wheelchair into our Leaf and Mum had a dreadful time trying to get it into the Golf. So much so that I opted to use shops wheelchairs or the Action 5NG (loaned by wheelchair services) when going out with Mum or Dan. I’d rather have them push me than have to watch them struggle getting the Pride I-Go into the boot of the car.
The Pride I-Go is described as being “one of the lightest and most transportable powerchairs on the market” and I’d agree with this. Most powerchairs weigh 45-105kg, the I-Go is half the weight of the lightest of these. While some powerchairs will break down into smaller pieces, they don’t fold down in a compact manner like the I-Go does. However, as my family have shown, not everyone is going to be able to manage to lift the Pride I-Go to get it into the boot of a car. With my wrist problems, I knew I wouldn’t be able to lift the I-Go. Dan and Mum are the two people I travel with most often. So it’s important that they’re able to get any chair of mine in and out of a car boot without difficulty.
Tip: If getting the Pride I-Go into a car yourself is going to be problematic for you, it’s worth considering a hoist or similar for your car so that you aren’t having to lift the chair yourself.
Pride I-Go: Out And About
Trying a new mobility aid can often be tricky. We get used to what we know and it can take a little time to learn the intricacies of something new and figure out how to get the best out of it. I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed with the Pride I-Go the first time I took it out. However, subsequent trips out, when I’d got use to it, were much better.
Joystick control (off)
The top speed on the Pride I-Go is 3.7mph and round town I found this to be a good speed. The only time I felt I’d have liked the I-Go to have gone faster was when crossing the road. I like to be able to move quite quickly when people have stopped to allow me to cross. But, I felt the I-Go didn’t pull away as quickly as I would have liked, leaving me feeling quite conscious that I was taking a long time and holding people up.
In terms of stopping, the Pride I-Go doesn’t do what I would call an ’emergency stop’. When you take your hand off the joystick, the I-Go glides to a halt. It doesn’t glide far, but it does mean that you have to pay extra attention to when your stopping to allow enough space for safety. I found this out the hard way when I was taking photos for my Styling A Grey Shirt Dress outfit post on my parent’s decking. I didn’t know that the I-Go wouldn’t stop immediately and came close to rolling off the edge of the decking. This isn’t a negative point, just something to be aware of.
Joystick control (on). The batteries are fully charged, but in bright sunlight the green light is difficult to see.
One irritating feature of the Pride I-Go is that it beeps when you reverse. Some people will like this feature, but it’s not for me. Don’t be put off by this though, there may be a way to disable the beeping and. Even if there isn’t, it’s not a particularly loud beep so you don’t feel like you’ve got a flashing neon sign above your head announcing your presence.
Tip: If you need to do an emergency stop, flick the joystick back. This will stop the chair instantly, avoiding the chair slowing to a halt. I don’t recommend doing this often, as I can’t see it being good for the motor. But, if it keeps you safe from falling of the edge of the pavement every now and again, it’s probably worth it.
Pride I-Go: Comfort And Support
This is a difficult one for me to comment on, as I’ve learned from testing the Pride I-Go that folding chairs aren’t for me. With my hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, I feel slight shifts, bumps and knocks that other people wouldn’t even notice. Folding chairs by definition need to have more movement in them because of their folding mechanisms. So, unsurprisingly it wasn’t as comfortable as my Kuschall K-Series (a rigid active user chair). However, I know others with hEDS who don’t have this problem. Annie Elainey has a folding powerchair that’s very similar to the Pride I-Go and has said that it’s the perfect chair for her. This just goes to show how each of us is very different in our needs, even when we have the same condition.
When I first saw the Pride I-Go, I wasn’t convinced that the back rest would be supportive enough for me. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong. The back rest itself actually has a decent amount of support. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the benefit of this because of the angle of the back rest. You can see from comparisons between my active user chair and the I-Go that the I-Go’s back rest leans back a little.
Before I was measured for my active user chair, I went to test out power assist wheels. This was to check that they were a viable option for me. While doing this, I was recommended to try a powered handcycle attachment. These are bike mounts that attach to the front of a fixed frame chair. This convert the wheelchair into an electric bike of sorts. Unfortunately, I didn’t get on with the powered handcycle. It requires the wheelchair to be tipped back slightly to lift the caster wheels off the ground and this hurt my back.
I have friends with hEDS who love their powered handcycles. But even just spending a few minutes using one cause a lot of pain in my back. So again, while the back rest angle wasn’t suitable for me, that doesn’t mean it won’t be ideal for you. It very much depends on how your disability affects you personally. This is why it’s so important to try a wheelchair yourself before you buy it.
The Pride I-Go, unlike most wheelchairs, doesn’t have fixed sides. This is so that it’s suitable for a range of different sizes. Once you start putting fixed sides on a chair, you limit the size of person the chair is able to take. As the I-Go doesn’t have large wheels which you could get clothes caught in, not having fixed sides is a great way to keep the weight of the chair down.
Powerchairs all have arm rests. These are where the joystick is attached, so they serve a dual purpose. While my wheelchair was bring repaired, I was leant the Action 3NG by wheelchair services. The arm rests on this chair caused me major problems. If I tried to put my hands in my lap and not use the arm rests, my shoulders were put into a funny position and quickly became painful. If I used the arm rests, my shoulders and back were put into an awkward position and I ended up in even more pain. So there really was no good situation for me with the arm rests on that wheelchair.
As the Pride I-Go is designed to be suitable for the majority of people, the arm rests are set quite far apart. This meant I could comfortably place my right hand in my lap without putting my shoulder at a funny angle. While the joystick was further away from me than if I were in a fitted powerchair, it was still comfortable. I didn’t rest my arm on the arm rest, opting instead to lean my arm on the side of the arm rest and angled upwards.
The vast majority of people have a dominant side and this is where you want the joystick to be. The Pride I-Go is a non-customisable powered wheelchair. However, it does give you the option of which side you’d like the joystick to be. The joystick isn’t fixed and needs to be taken off when folding the chair. This allows you to change which side you have the joystick, to suit your needs. This could be a big advantage for those who have a variable disability that affects their hands and arms. My dominant side it my left. But, if for example my left wrist is bad, I could switch the joystick to the right side. This would allow me to rest left wrist.
Initially, the foot plate angle caused me a bit of difficulty. Having my feet pointing upwards was great for my PoTS, but problematic for my poor circulation. I had quite a few instances where my feet went numb. The tip below helped with this. Although I still experienced numbness it didn’t happen as often and when it did, it wasn’t as bad.
Tip: If you’re having difficulty with the angle of the foot rest and are able to, consider wearing heels. These may put your feet in a better position on the foot plate. Rising my ankles with heels really helped support my feet and reduced the poor circulation issue.
Pride I-Go: Batteries
The Pride I-Go has two batteries, one is active and having power drawn from it to move the wheelchair. The other is conveniently stored in the chair ready to be switched over when the first battery runs out.
The Pride I-Go has a range of up to 9 miles per battery. This is dependant on several factors, including the terrain. For example, going up a hill or steep slope takes more battery power than moving on laminate flooring. I don’t feel I can comment accurately or fairly on the battery life for several reasons.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t change the batteries myself. I had to rely on other people to do this for me. This is because the button to release the battery is stiff. Trying to press the button caused my thumbs to hyperextend. Trying to release the battery caused me quite a bit of pain. With the amount of hyperextension, I was concerned I’d subluxate (partially dislocate) my thumb. So when I went out on my own with the Pride I-Go, I had to be very conscious of how much battery was left, because I wasn’t able to to switch to the second battery.
It’s also worth noting that all batteries take a few charges to reach their full capacity. As I was the first person to use this Pride I-Go. This meant that the batteries hadn’t had the chance to get to full capacity.
The Pride I-Go only comes with one battery charger, which could make things difficult for some people. If you have a busy day and use up the power from both batteries, you’d only be able to charge one of them over night. You then end up having to not do quite as much the next day. This pattern would continue until you’re able to have a day not using the I-Go so that you can charge both batteries.
Tip: If you’re considering the Pride I-Go, I’d highly recommend looking into getting a second battery charger. This will allow you can charge both batteries over night to really get the most from the chair. The cost of the battery will need to be factored in to your budget.
Pride I-Go: My Thoughts
The Pride I-Go is a great wheelchair, that unfortunately isn’t suitable for me. It’s great that companies are producing more portable options. There are many people who need a power chair but can’t switch to a Multi Purpose or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. At the moment, portable wheelchairs are only available in an off-the-shelf style that can’t be customised or fitted to the individual. As a result, this type of chair needs to be suitable for the majority of people. I think the Pride I-Go achieves this well. As my needs are quite specific, off-the-shelf option (like the Drive Medical Enigma Wheelchair) aren’t suitable long term options for me.
Lever on the wheel allows you to switch between electric and manual, meaning that you can push the wheelchair if desired.
If you’re looking for an affordable, portable powerchair, I’d highly recommend getting in touch with Easy Living Mobility to arrange a test drive of the Pride I-Go. The I-Go costs £1995 (excluding VAT). This is more than half the price of power assist wheels which range from £4,000 -£5,000.
Easy Living Mobility understand the financial strain on disabled people, so have lease, purchase and hire options available. You can find out more about the Pride I-Go and financing options at easylivingmobility.co.uk.
Want to see how I got on with the Pride I-Go while I was down in Essex? Check out my Essex vlog!
Have you tried the Pride I-Go? What are the most important things you look for in a wheelchair?
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