Mitch Chalmers gained confidence and a career after securing a wheelchair that converts from a sitting to standing position. The LEVO active-easy from Gerald Simonds, has allowed Mitch to pursue his new career as a hairdresser. Here we share his story…
Four years ago, Mitch Chalmers from Midsomer Norton near Bath, was employed as a plasterer and spent most his spare time and weekends taking part in motor cross events throughout Europe. Following an accident on the track Mitch was left paralysed from the chest down and had to re-evaluate his life and plan for the future.
“I loved plastering as no two days were the same in terms of location and projects and accepting I would also probably never ride a motor cross bike again was a huge blow, because I had been riding bikes from the age of eight. But I was determined that just because I was paralysed I would still have a career which I enjoyed.”
Mitch admits that after being discharged from hospital he shut himself away for a while as he came to terms with the life-changing effects of his accident. However, after a while and with the help of family and friends he started thinking about his next career.
“I had always had an interest in hairdressing and thought this might be a good career, but there was one issue – how would I be able to cut hair from my wheelchair?”
Determined to find a solution, after enrolling in a hairdressing course at nearby Bath College and arranging a placement at nearby Jo Jo’s hair salon, Mitch got in touch with the team at Gerald Simonds to see if they had any suggestions and was delighted when he was told about the LEVO active-easy which is a wheelchair which converts from a sitting to standing position.
“As soon as I tried one out for myself I knew I had found the answer and that I could forge a career in hairdressing, so set about raising the money to buy one”. Mitch created a local fundraising page and with the help of friends and family arranged various fundraising events. Bath College, where Mitch is studying hairdressing also helped with events and within four months Mitch was contacting Gerald Simonds to order the wheelchair which he knew would change his life.
The LEVO has been designed to smoothly elevate the user from a sitting to standing position of up to 85 degrees with the minimum amount of effort, to enable users such as Mitch to interact with people from a standing position.
Prior to taking delivery of his LEVO, Mitch had been using a standing frame as he was required to stand for a certain amount of time each day as part of his ongoing physiotherapy programme but often found this uncomfortable. “When I was using a frame, I could only stand for about 10 minutes at a time, but since using my LEVO I can now stand for up to two hours, which is not only great for my hairdressing training, but also my daily physiotherapy, as it means I can literally kill two birds with one stone,” continued Mitch.
Not only has the LEVO enabled Mitch to start training to be a hairdresser, it has also had a profound effect on him physically as he further explains: “As anybody with a similar spinal cord injury will know, managing the bladder can be a major issue. However, since I started using my LEVO wheelchair and standing for longer periods of time my bladder has started to act in a completely different way. I can now hold much more urine which is great and being stood for longer has also meant I never have any leaks, which can be another common occurrence for people with my injury”.
Mitch was recently due to undergo another series of Botox injections in hospital to help stop his bladder wall from spasming, which can cause leaks, but his regular and continued use of the LEVO to allow him to stand for longer periods resulted in them cancelling the procedure.
Mitch couldn’t be happier at the independence the LEVO offers him and is enjoying the ability to pursue a career he loves:
“The LEVO is just fantastic and has literally changed my life! It is extremely easy to use and manoeuvre when in the sitting position, and transferring to the standing position is quick and effortless and literally takes seconds. In addition to my hairdressing, the LEVO allows me to cook, make drinks and just talk to people face to face and enables me to feel ‘normal’ and remain independent which is all anyone in a wheelchair wants. It is also incredibly comfortable in comparison to my previous chairs. The seating position is substantially higher than most wheelchairs and I no longer have to endure the back ache which I had to previously. I also love the fact that the LEVO is so lightweight and stylish, and would not hesitate in recommending one to anybody who is looking for a wheelchair in which they can also stand”.
For more information on the full range of solutions available from Gerald Simonds or to book a no-obligation demonstration call 0800 220975, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gerald-simonds.co.uk.