In the hotel lobby, a boy sits on an advanced and sleek-looking mobility chair. With a flick of his wrist, the chair does a full 360 on the spot as a crowd of intrigued onlookers begins to gather.
“The best thing I can do with WHILL and not my other chair is spin on a dime.”
Jake, 10, was in Las Vegas for the 12th Annual Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) Conference, an event that brings together those affected by Arthrogryposis, parents, doctors, physical therapists, and other professionals from across the continent. Jake was born with Arthrogryposis, and the conference has been a yearly pilgrimage for him and his mother, Betsy, since he was three years old.
"With AMC, as bad as it is when a child is born is the worst it will ever be – it can only get better," says Betsy. "We have high hopes that someday Jake will be able to walk completely independently, but right now we use a powerchair, a manual chair, and a walker.”
The powerchair Betsy refers to is a Permobil unit, a premium rehab chair with front-wheel drive that Jake relies on to get around at home. The chair is customized to meet Jake’s individual needs and is highly complex, but when travelling, Betsy often finds it safer to rent mobility equipment once they reach their destination.
"We decided to leave Jake’s personal powerchair at home because we had heard so many stories of chairs getting demolished when they’re taken on airplanes,” says Betsy. “That’s not to say that it’s intentional, but we thought that renting a powerchair once we got here would be a much easier option.”
On this particular trip, Jake was able to rent the WHILL Model A, an award-winning personal electric vehicle which he had first tried back in 2014 at the Chicago Auto Show. Unlike Jake’s Permobil powerchair, the Model A has 4-wheel drive, giving it excellent traction and maneuverability both indoors and outdoors – perfect for a week-long trip in Vegas.
“We’ve always kept it in the back of our minds that the Model A would be a really cool chair for when he gets older. When we came to Vegas we were looking online and found Scootaround, and right on that page they had the WHILL up for rental. We showed it to Jake and he fell in love, so that’s what we decided to go with.”
The people that gathered around Jake over the course of his 7-day rental may have been looking to get a glimpse of a cutting-edge chair that appeared to be straight out of the movies. For Jake, however, the stylish, modern look of a mobility device is of less importance. It’s all about what it allows you to do.
“The coolest thing I did with this chair is I got to play with my friends better,” says Jake. “It was super fun running around with them because in my wheelchair I didn’t do that very well.”
Scootaround’s goal has always been to provide high quality mobility rentals to meet any diverse need. It’s about making things as easy as possible for the renter, and to do that you need to be open to change and innovation.
“We’ve been working closely with the team at WHILL, creating enhanced exposure for the Model A using Scootaround’s North America-wide platform,” says Kerry Renaud, President and COO of Scootaround. “We believe the WHILL approach to technology integration into assistive device product development has tremendous potential for the future of the mobility industry. People now look to this level of functionality and versatility, and Jake’s experience with Scootaround and the WHILL Model A in Las Vegas is a testament to that.”