Trevor and his wife Margaret greatly enjoy travelling, and often take car trips around Australia staying in cabins at caravan parks. However, this has become more complicated since Trevor had his right leg amputated in 1998 due to vascular disease.
One of the difficulties is that Trevor now needs to sit down in the shower. This is okay at home, where a standard plastic chair fits into the shower, but causes problems when travelling. They don’t always have room in the car for a chair, especially if they are travelling with other family members. And many holiday cabins have fiberglass capsule-type showers that don’t fit a standard chair anyway.
They therefore consulted a rehabilitation equipment supplier to see if they could get a portable shower chair. They thought this would also be useful if they wanted to travel overseas, as it would fit in a suitcase.
However, when they saw the folding chairs that were available commercially, Margaret and Trevor were concerned that they would be too flimsy to hold Trevor’s weight, and were not stable enough for the slippery shower environment.
A builder and engineer by trade, Trevor got to thinking about what would be suitable and drew up plans for a stronger portable chair. He took his design back to the equipment supplier, but they didn’t have anyone who could make it. Eventually a friend heard about TAD, who were of course able to supply volunteers to assist – in this case Reg Gardner and Sandra Brown.
Trevor’s chair consists of two side pieces and two arm rests, with a fabric seat and back. The side pieces are each made from two pieces of stainless steel tubing, with rails near the top and bottom and hard plastic caps over the bottom tube ends.
A swivel joint enables the two side pieces to fold together. One side is 50mm wider than the other, so they fold neatly into one another, taking up a minimum amount of space and fitting easily into a suitcase.
The arm rests are also made from U-shaped stainless steel tubing, covered at the top with non-slip rubber tubing. They slot into the side pieces and are held in place with a spring catch, but can be easily removed and placed next to each other in travel mode.
The seat and back are made from waterproof Breezeway™ fabric. The seat wraps around the upper brace on either side piece and is laced together on the underneath side of the seat, and the backrest laces around the back side of the U-shaped arm rest.
Trevor and Margaret haven’t been able to get overseas recently, but are hopeful they may be able to now they have the travelling shower chair. They have tested it on their local trips, and have found it very satisfactory.
One of the eyelets tore while they were on a recent holiday in Tasmania, but they were able to get this fixed by a local sailmaker who reinforced all the eyelets for them. Trevor says he would ideally like to get a second chair made as a backup for situations like this.