Ten years ago, retired family doctor Leon Salimans from Gorssel was diagnosed with MS. Due to his motoric impairments that got worse and worse, he became completely dependent on a wheelchair seven years ago. Since then, he has used no fewer than four custom wheelchairs, but none of them was really comfortable. That just changed last September, when Leon received his custom-made WorkHopper from O4 Wheelchairs. “The sitting position in particular is now so much better!”

The MS disease manifested for Leon mainly in the loss of his standing and walking ability. “And then you suddenly step into the world of wheelchairs. Starting with ordering a cheap wheelchair online for two hundred euros, which you may use occasionally in the beginning. Until you need a wheelchair more and more. That's when I started looking for a custom wheelchair.”

A Work related wheelchair

Despite the fact that all his wheelchairs that followed the first one were always custom fitted, Leon never really sat comfortably in them. “I always had a tendency to slip out a bit. That was very uncomfortable.” One day he saw an advertisement of the WorkHopper by O4 Wheelchairs in Support Magazine. “This might be something for me! I thought. I especially liked the fact that it is a work-related wheelchair.”

He contacted O4 Wheelchairs and traveled to Varsseveld to visit the O4 Experience Center. “I was given a wheelchair for a week to try out at home. That wheelchair was really good. And then it wasn't even a custom made one! That is something that you have to keep in mind. In particular, the seating position was much better than with all the other chairs I have had. In the past I really wanted to sit differently after a few hours. I didn't have that problem in O4's wheelchair."

Optimal sitting position

His positive experience with the test wheelchair led Leon to ordering a custom WorkHopper with OlympicHopper chassis. “I can sit comfortably in it all day long, without any problems. Truly remarkable! We like going out for dinner, and then you always hang by the table without ever feeling comfortable. But not with this wheelchair. You raise the seat slightly so that you sit normally and upright. I sit with a lot more body tension automatically. I can tilt the seat, but I can also fold the back forward. That way I can always achieve an optimal sitting position. In addition, the wheelchair is extremely sturdy and strong, but at the same time very easy to push. Yes, I am really happy with it.”

Stem cell transplant

At the moment Leon is working hard to get out of the wheelchair. “Four years ago I had a stem cell transplant in Mexico. That stopped the progression of the disease. A few very annoying complaints have also completely disappeared. With the rehabilitation program I am getting more and more strength back into my legs. I'm working towards it to at least be able to stand again. At Medifit in Moraira, Spain, I trained intensively for three hours a day in their rehabilitation center last year, for two months. I can tell you, then you really make progress! It led me, albeit little by little, to eventually walking forty meters in the pool.”

Less dependent

Leon had taken his own WorkHopper to Spain with him. “That this was possible impressed me a lot. Normally it takes O4 six weeks to build a wheelchair, but because I really wanted to take it with me to Spain, they built my wheelchair within a month. I am very happy with that. I am now continuing my rehabilitation process in the Netherlands. I hope that in a year or two I will be much less wheelchair dependent. But until then, I'm fine in my WorkHopper.

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Leon Salimans