Over the years I have become convinced of the enormous health benefits of standing. People who start standing regularly can expect less muscle spasticity and shortening, fewer joint contractures and joint damage, fewer urinary tract infections, a reduced risk of pressure sores and a lower chance of developing osteoporosis.

European and American research provides compelling reasons for workers to alternate between sitting and standing.Workers who can alternate suffer less upper body musculoskeletal discomfort, less foot swelling, less spinal shrinkage, less fatigue and less injury and illness. This has resulted in height adjustable work-surfaces being regulated in several European countries.

Height adjustable work stations are adjusted either manually orel ectrically and, in the preparation of this review, both types were investigated.

The manual types have telescopic legs and a crank or screw mechanism which requires strength, effort, hand function and, sometimes, even tools to adjust.Work surfaces must be cleared prior to adjustment. Adjusting these manual desks would be difficult for workers with disabilities. Manual types have a limited range and only people shorter than about 155cm would be able to use them for standing. They are fully imported and cost about R6,000 - R8,500.

Although they are more expensive and relatively new to South Africa I would encourage the disability sector to promote Electrical Height Adjustable Workstations (EHAWs) as they are universally accessible! They enable the seating of people who are tall, short, have back problems and, especially,workers with disabilities. Just think: having secured a new job, fought for your parking spot, entrance ramp and accessible loo, your desk would accommodate your wheels - seated or standing!

The great advantage of EHAWs is that the user can, within seconds, adjust the work surface to any required height, quietly and smoothly, at the push of a button. The process requires no tools, minimal hand function and virtually no effort or strength. EHAWs stay plugged into an ordinary 220V plug socket and, with a carrying capacity of 70kg, you don't have to clear your desk priorto adjustment. The two EHAWs featured below are available from Inspiration Office:

This imported product has a smart and sturdy steel and aluminium structure with a standard work top (120cm X 80cm). The Activa Lift II is designed for sit-stand with adjustable heights of 65cm to 130cm suiting chairs,wheelchairs, standing and stand-up wheelchairs. Caution!! There is also aversion with a height adjustability range of just 68cm to 118cm.

The two legs are electrically adjusted in seconds using a key pad situated in front of the user at desk top level with simple up and down buttons. There is no crossbar to obstruct wheelchair footrests and no danger of electrical wiring and cables getting in the way of your feet or wheelchair as wiresand cables are safely hidden away. (PIC5) Cablerisers can be added for computer cables. Other optional extra's include computer and printer holders. Price: R19,468 incl VAT.

The Inspiration Office:

Alta is a scientist. She looks forward to a desk at which she can sit in a wheelchair, office chair or stand.

This electrically operated work station product is made in South Africaby using imported Bosch moving parts. It has the same features as the ActivaLift II but is more affordable.

Customisation such as cut-outs to accommodate wheelchair users who need to fit closer into the table or to make space for wheelchair hand controls canbe arranged. Height range: 65cm - 120cm. Price: R11,398 incl VAT.

Stand-up wheelchairs

Of course the whole idea behind this product review is to get you on your feet again! Stand-up wheelchairs are a versatile solution for people who need both mobility and support, and local availability is growing. There are three categories of stand-up wheelchair in South Africa: manual propulsion with a manual stand-up function, manual propulsion with an electrical stand-upfunction and powered propulsion with electrical stand-up function. Do bear the following in mind when choosing a stand-up wheelchair:

  • Safety: Make sure there are enough lap-belts and adequate kneeand chest support! Always double check your support/belts before switching to astanding position.
  • Upper body strength: Manual propel and manual stand chairs are only suitable for people with good upper limb and body strength.
  • Use: Some people use their stand-up wheelchair as their primary wheelchair, for others it is used for specific work or life-style related tasks. Will the product be used indoors or out? At work, home or both? Is it necessary to propel the chair whilst standing?
  • Affordability vs Adjustability: The more expensive chairs generally have more adjustment options.
  • Health: Standing offers significant health advantages but please note: people who have not stood in a long time, people with cardiovascular conditions and people with damaged leg joints, postural imbalances or leg contractures above 20° must obtain medical advice before standing.

Manual Propel + Manual Stand

The stand-up and sit-down functions of these wheelchairs is accomplished by meansof gas struts/hydraulic action plus an easily learned push or pull action bythe user as they grip the neatly engineered armrest type lever.

These wheelchairs cannot be propelled whilst in the stand-up position, so the user needs sufficient strength and stamina to frequently lever themselves up and down.

CEMobility Manual Stand-up

This wheelchair is imported from Taiwan with service and repairs supported locally. It comes in 41 and 46 cm widths, weighs 30kg, and has aweight limit of 100kg. R39,900 incl VAT.

Levo LAE

The Swiss Levo range includes the Levo Active Easy (LAE) which weighs only 18-19kg, quitelight for a stand-up wheelchair, with a weight limit of 120kg. The LAE costs R70,000 incl VAT.

LifestandLS and LSA

(Trying to get a pic of Mathys Roets standing in his Lifestand LSA at his work bench or at his pizza oven at home) if we don't get it use PIC10 = LSA)

This French range has the lightest stand-up I could find. The 16kg LSA with aluminium frame (weight limit = 100kg) costs R80,000 incl VAT. The wheels pop off and the backrest folds down for transport. The LS has a steel frame, weighs 25kg, has a weight limit of 120kg and costs R65,000 incl VAT.

Manual Propel + Electrical Stand

Ideal for users with sufficient strength to manually propel who wish toconserve energy (or require assistance) to stand. These wheelchairs cannot bepropelled whilst in the stand-up position, so the user needs sufficientstrength and stamina to frequently lever up and down.

SaturnStand-up

The Saturn is imported from Asia, has a single actuator for the stand-up function and easy to use finger controls on the armrest. The wheelchair weighs 30kg with a weight limit of 120kg. The back rest height, seat depth and centre of gravity can be adjusted. R38,190 incl VAT.

LCEV ( Levo II) Levo

The Swiss made Levo LCEV has an easy to use button on thearmrest for the stand-up function. The wheelchair weights 25kg with a weightlimit of 120kg. R95,000 incl VAT. There are many adjustment options.

LifestandLSE and LSR

Both wheelchairs have manual propulsion, electrical stand up and weight limits of 120kg. The LSE weighs 29kg and costs R81,150 incl VAT. The LSR weighs 34kg with powered back recline function and powered footrest elevation. R88,000incl VAT.

Comfort Stand-upManual

This product is imported from Taiwan, with a rigid frame made from powder coated aluminium and a weight capacity of 120kg. R21,611 incl VAT.

Powered Propel + Electrical Stand

These wheelchairs are fully powered and can be driven in the stand-up position using controls that can be adapted for poor hand function. Some brands have all-terrain capability.

Comfort Stand-up Electric

Imported from Taiwan and supported locally by SITWELL and Thokomala Mobility Services, the wheelchair has a rigid steel frame and a weight limit of 180kg. R48,606 incl VAT.

CE Power Standing

Imported from Taiwan and supported locally by CE Mobility, this wheelchair weighs about 70kg with a weight limit of 100kg. It has Dynamix controls, two 36ah/220V batteries and costs R51,300 incl VAT.

Saturn Phoenix Power (PIC16: caption: Gynaecologist Dr. Donald Maasdorp uses his Phoenix stand-up to operate)

This Asian stand-up is supported locally by Medop. It weighs 90kg with a weight limit of 110kg. There are two 36ah/220V batteries and seat depth, backrest height and footrest adjustability. R68,400 incl VAT.

InvacareDragon Vertic

Made in Germany, the Dragon weighs 131kg with a weight limit of 100kg. Can be used indoors / outdoors and there is adjustability for seat depth, leg rest length,back rest tension, height and angle. R91000 incl VAT.

SMFE Stand-up Mobility

Imported fromAsia via France and supported locally by Mobility one this wheelchair weighs 80kg with a weight limit of 120kg. It has a powered backrest. R92,250 includingVAT.

Standing Predator 4X4

This 4X4wheelchair is proudly South African with a heavy duty durable steel frame and is designed toperform well over rugged, outdoor terrain for users who farm, hunt, fish etc. Seating is customised and arm rests, footrests, seat and backrest tilt is adjustable. R96,900 incl VAT.

Lifestand LSC Mixed

Has a powered backrest and can be used indoors or out. It weighs 90kg with a 120kgweight limit. R161,350 incl VAT.

Levo C3and Levo Combi

The C3 is sturdy, handles rougher terrain and has a tiltfunction. It weighs 175kg with a 140kg weight limit. R200,000 incl VAT. TheCombi provides for many tilt angles besides the seated and upright standing postures. It weighs 170kg, with a weight limit of 120kg. R250,000 incl VAT.

Permobile C400VS and C500V

These versatile Swedish wheelchairs have many features including: optionalfront-wheel drive, three powered standing positions, powered backrest, leg rest, tilt in space and seat elevation.

The C400VS weighs 168kg and can carry an adult of up to 120kg. R182,000 incl VAT.The CV400 Junior has a weight limit of 75kg. The C500VS weighs 171kg and cancarry an adult of 100kg. R205,000 incl VAT.

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