Playing The Wheelchair Waiting Game

Here we are racing toward fall, the time of the year when the mobility industry debuts many of the new products for the coming year. For some, this is an exciting time, getting a glimpse of what, ideally, is another step in the evolution of mobility products. However, others view this time of year with great skepticism, unconvinced by any new products, unwilling to venture into so-called unproven realms. Indeed, the consumer debate between old and new is clear: Is a new mobility product something to obtain, delivering increased liberation, or should it be avoided, too much of a risk, possibly compromising one’s mobility with unforeseen issues?

The intent of new products is basic, to provide advantages over existing products. Maybe a new product performs better than previous models? Maybe a new product offers comfort beyond competing models? Maybe a new product offers a more cost-effective package than others? Or, maybe a new product offers all of these advantages over current models, with a cool new aesthetic added, as well. Who wouldn’t want a better performing, more comfortable, less expensive, sharper looking mobility product?

Still, with these many advances may come unknowns. Was the new product adequately tested prior to release to prove out any “bugs?” Is there appropriate manufacturer and dealer support for the new product? And, will the new product interface with aftermarket technology, such as seating, vehicle securement systems, and so on? Most certainly one wouldn’t want to place one’s mobility in an unproven product, with questionable support, and poor integration toward existing technology.

The question then becomes, do the potential rewards of purchasing a newly-introduced mobility product outweigh the potential risks of owning a product with an unknown track record?

To answer this question, one must begin by considering the nature of new products. Rarely is a new product entirely new, as they are usually an evolution of technology, building upon the proven and familiar. Specifically in the mobility market, electronics, for example, have a decades-old lineage, where the latest-and-greatest powerchair or scooter controllers aren’t of a technology that is entirely a technological shift or introduction, but rather an improvement and expansion of existing technology (similar to the evolution of personal computers, where we’ve seen a stepping-stone approach toward improvements, ensuring reliability while still consistently advancing technology). The unknowns, therefore, of new technology may not be as profound as one might believe, containing improvements on existing technology to offer both enhanced performance and reliability.

Similarly, a new model doesn’t usually mean unknown product support, and, as a new model, may actually promise more reliability and better support than prior models. Responsible manufacturers, learn and grow over time, improving processes and skills; in this way, a new model may have more knowledge and talent designed into it, ensuring that any enhancements fostered by previous models are automatically placed into new products – put simply, new products often begin where prior products left off, fostering the best of the best.

With some research and understanding, then, the perceived risks of purchasing a new model may not be a risk at all. In fact, purchasing newly-introduced product may prove more sound than remaining with one’s favorite product, making a great product genre even greater — which is the foremost reason one should purchase a new product, to obtain enhanced levels of mobility beyond the present.

Ultimately, there are few areas of life that are more important than one’s mobility. It is true that there is a sense of security in one’s time-proven mobility product. Nevertheless, with life-enhancing technology always evolving, one shouldn’t let the known mobility of today prevent the pursuit of newly-enhanced mobility tomorrow.


Author: Mark E. Smith

The literary side of the WheelchairJunkie

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