ROWHEELS Unique Pull Technology Revolutionizes Mobility
By Jolene Montgomery
If you were at any of the Abilities Expo events in 2014-2016, then you saw an astounding thing: people in wheelchairs, pulling backwards on their wheels…and moving forward! Their looks of dawning delight were amazing, as people pulled instead of pushed to propel themselves along the show floor.
Numerous studies show that 8 out of 9 large muscles in the upper body are used to pull, compared to just 2 large muscles used to push. The studies are compelling, but nothing is more convincing than feeling for yourself that it takes less energy to zoom along using ROWHEELS—and it looks cooler, too.
ROWHEELS Therapeutic Manual Chair Can Reduce/Eliminate Pain and Shoulder Injuries
It all began when Rimas Bunevicius, Chairman & Co-founder of ROWHEELS, became a wheelchair user in 2011. He quickly felt for himself the aches and pains a typical wheelchair user suffers and began to research the field. He came across an award-winning design by Florida-based inventor Salim Nasser, a NASA Mechanical Engineer. Paralyzed some 15 years earlier, Nasser's passion for improving wheelchair mobility translated itself over the last decade through his mechanical engineering studies and design concepts for ROWHEELS. Rimas collaborated with Salim to develop this unique design: by pulling instead of pushing to go forward, ROWHEELS not only uses the larger muscles of the upper back and shoulders, but potentially reduces shoulder-related injuries.
Medical industry expert Gaurav Mishra was appointed as ROWHEELS CEO in 2018, direct from his previous career guiding Rehab industry giant Ottobock to their success. It was Mishra who helmed the strategic decision to produce not just ROWHEELS wheelsets but also a range of ROWHEELS wheelchairs, each one incorporating ROWHEELS unique pull technology.
Mishra explains, "ROWHEELS' pulling action uses the stronger and more capable muscles in your upper back and shoulders resulting in a reduced risk of shoulder-related injuries. ROWHEELS is the only truly therapeutic manual wheelchair technology."
Studies agree. In this Electromyographic study from the University of Florida, research proved rear wheel propulsion (RWP) to be much more efficient than the standard forward wheel propulsion (FWP):
"Eight out of nine muscles were active during the propulsion phase in RWP, indicating that the technique is highly efficient as most of the muscle work is translated into propulsion work. On the other hand, high muscle activities during the recovery phase in FWP suggest that the process is wasteful and unstable."
Diana Rincon, Shusheng Ye, Manuel Rodriguez, Salim Nasser Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Material Engineering, FloridaInternational University, Miami, FL
This unique RWP wheelchair made a big splash in 2014 – 2016, then quietly vanished. The question arose, where did ROWHEELS go? According to Mishra, "We needed more development to reinvigorate our product choices. I was brought on to re-strategize the whole business plan. Of course, more funding had to be raised for the restructure."
ROWHEELS Wins Shark Tank-Style TV Competition
Mishra has a reputation for thinking outside the box. Then, in an unusual promotional move, the following press release appeared in April of 2019:
Madison, WI – January 30, 2019 – ROWHEELS, a developer of innovative manual mobility tech, today announced that it has been selected to appear on the highly coveted "Project Pitch It" TV show.
Entrepreneurs from 24 Wisconsin companies will appear on the "Shark Tank"-style TV show in this the 3rd season which premieres at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 on WISN-TV Channel 12.
Mishra remembers, "I came on to revitalize our promotional picture, to attack it in a different way. Our new approach changes the whole game further. We can sell online Internationally and sell through dealers."
We've divided the company into 3 segments: wheelsets, wheelchairs and accessories/cushions. Our new lightweight wheelchair RowLite serves k3 and k4. The whole wheelchair is only about 34-35 pounds, only 18 pounds without the wheels. It is still perfect for car transfers."
"We need to be sustainable and grow in a wise, and still profitable, way. One of my goals was to find a smarter way to get to procurement. By smart procurement, we managed to cut the production cost and eliminated the middle man to pass significant savings to our Users."
New ROWHEELS Products Debut at Abilities Expo Boston
What can we expect at your comeback at the Boston Abilities Expo? Gaurav is pleased.
"We are launching the lightweight chair "RowLite" at the show! To be able to get a lightweight wheelchair with Rev3 quick release wheels for only $1800 is amazing." Gaurav states proudly. "We are also launching Rev3 wheelset with a quick release! This is the most affordable wheelset, but was previously only available as bolt on."
"This is a different customer experience. You order Rowheels product today and it will be delivered the next day. There are no tools needed to set it up, nothing! It comes out of the box ready to roll."
End-users will have two choices—they can order right off ROWHEELS website or DME partner websites or Amazon and have it delivered to their home the next day. Or, they can go through their insurance and work with their own local DME dealers as ROWHEELS technology is also covered with insurance reimbursement.
The restructuring resulted in cost-savings, and now ROWHEELS can pass the savings on to the consumer. The first ROWHEELS Revolution 1.0 wheelchair sells for only $1400 and will be available at the Abilities Expo for a discounted price of only $1200.
"Smart procurement and better production management helped to lower the price," Mishra says proudly, then pauses, thinking, "I believe we can lead the adoption of this innovative disruptive model across similar assistive devices and disability medical devices: cut the cost, pass the savings to the patients, facilitate shorter waiting times and deliver a great user experience."
Or, as one ROWHEELS wheelchair user put it, "After pushing a wheelchair for 23 years, it took me a minute to get used to the idea of pulling backwards to go forwards. But after only an hour in the ROWHEELS chair my back and shoulders felt like they'd been on vacation!"
"Anything that eliminates that oh-so-attractive wheelchair slump is a great improvement in my book."
Get the ROWHEELS experience yourself at booth 642 at the Boston Abilities Expo, September 13-15 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hall C.
For more information, visit www.rowheels.com.Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!