Name: Gemma Lumsdaine
Condition: Cerebral Palsy
Tested the wheelAIR: Whilst training for wheelchair rugby & generally during the heat of the summer
Gemma started using the wheelAIR whilst she modelled for our summer photoshoot. Having played wheelchair sports from a young age, she is now a key member of many sports teams around the UK. Impressively, she is also on the GBWR Talent Squad training for a step up to the Elite team and potentially the next Paralympics in Tokyo! Her enthusiasm for exercise has led her to study Sports and Exercise at University. Gemma kindly let us join her at her rugby training during our photoshoot and she played whilst using the wheelAIR. Read this case study to find out more about her personal experience with overheating and how wheelAIR is helping improve her game.
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Gemma’s current challenges with overheating
For those with cerebral palsy, it is hard to regulate different parts of your body’s temperature… but it is different to a spinal injury because we can actually sweat. Our problem is more that we have poor circulation. For me, my circulation if quite intensely affected. So i’d say it’s less of an overheating problem I have and more a difficulty regulating my body temperature.
Because of this, I tend to get too cold more often than I get too hot. However when I am playing sport it is a different story… I get very hot. This can affect my performance. I think this is less to do with my condition and more to do with the exercise and how intensely I am pushing myself.
Being too hot affects my training because it makes me feel physically uncomfortable. I would say if you’re really hot it can affect your focus. It can be very distracting to have to keep cooling down. I tend to play through the discomfort because for me, it doesn’t get unbearable. However I reckon the cooler you are the easier it will be to perform at your best.
For example, last week I was at a sports development camp in England. It was a very warm day, and in the hall it was extremely warm and humid – I felt uncomfortable and found training a lot more difficult. We opened the door and it cooled down eventually… however it really showed me how much the heat affects the game.
Normally to cool down, I would drink a lot of water which helps me stay more comfortable. Sometimes at training there will be door open to give more of a breeze.
Gemma’s wheelchair is a part of her. As a young person, it’s very important that her assistive tech looks young and modern. So what she likes most about the wheelAIR is that it’s trendy.
Gemma’s wheelAIR experience
I feel like as a young person in a wheelchair, my wheelchair is part of me. So it’s very important that it looks young and modern. So what I like most about the wheelAIR is that it looks good and doesn’t stand out as being a medical aid. That’s a big thing for me. A lot of wheelchairs look so old fashioned. I personally wouldn’t use anything that didn’t align with my style.
I used the wheelAIR whist I was training – which can get very intense! It did make me feel a lot cooler…it helped to regulate my temperature. I think it helped the most during endurance training. It may have given me a slight advance to other players who were dealing with overheating.
And it isn’t just when training that I have found the wheelAIR useful, I was sunbathing yesterday and I felt so much more comfortable and could stay out for ages! It is so nice to be able to enjoy the sun with a refreshing breeze on my back. The cushion is also extremely comfortable and offers that essential extra bit of support. It is so much comfier than my current backrest! Having a comfy backrest is essential since wheelchair users spend their lives with it. You wouldn’t want to spend 4 years with a super uncomfortable chair!
The wheelAIR was very easy to install and it is a very easy design to use. Just clicking the button to turn it on is really easy – you don’t have to do a huge amount. The remote is nice and compact so it can tuck away easily. However it would be great if there could be better security for the remote.. I do worry about wire getting caught.
wheelAIR comment: We agree. Listening to Gemma’s feedback, we are investing in some heavy duty Velcro to solve this problem until we have the money to manufacturer a clip!