Skis help those in wheelchairs glide over snow-packed pavement


By January, roadways and sidewalks can become dangerous in Minnesota.

Snow and ice buildup prove especially difficult for those whose main mode of transportation is by wheelchair.

Sam and Tracy Tabaka of Rogers, Minnesota are the first in the state to test out an invention that has drastically improved how they maneuver in the snow, WCCO reports.

Small skis that lock onto the front wheels of their wheelchairs prevent the Tabakas from getting stuck. The skis, called Wheelblades, allow their chairs to glide over ice and snow.

GizMag, an online technology magazine, says Wheelblades work like snowshoes. The skis spread weight over a greater surface, allowing the front wheels to float instead of slipping or sinking.

“It definitely allows me to be more independent,” Sam Tabaka told WCCO. “It’s definitely changed my outlook on what I can do in winter on my own.”

Swiss inventor Patrick Mayer, who became a quadriplegic after a snowboarding accident, developed WheelBlades. Mayer says he's always been a winter enthusiast, but getting around in the snow in his wheelchair was tough.

"I was surprised to find out that there was not a single, reasonably priced mobility aid on the market, one which could be attached and removed using basic manual skills," Mayer says on the Wheelblades' website.

WCCO says Wheelblades have been very popular overseas but are just emerging in the United States.

The skis also work with strollers, GizMag reported.

Wheelblades are available for order on the company's website [preserve]

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