Since Lothar Wesch is a wheelchair user himself, he knows what to look for. The 54-year-old tested the new C2000 power wheelchair for Otto Bock, putting it to the test in crowded spaces, on hard cobblestone pavement and across high curbs. Lothar Wesch summarised his experiences during the test drive in the following article:
“Medical aids are supposed to help you. But when it comes to comfort, some are instruments of torture. I always thought I had a good wheelchair, and that may be true when it comes to power and the motor. But I learned better when Otto Bock brought the C2000 power wheelchair for a test drive. It is a fairly small piece of equipment, at least when you consider what it can do and how it operates. Cobblestone pavement is a real problem in my current wheelchair; I can only drive at the lowest speed, otherwise I would be thrown from the seat. This is in spite of the fact that new springs were recently installed. The suspension system of the C2000, on the other hand, is excellent! Then I went to the supermarket in order to see how manoeuvrable the C2000 is. Supermarkets are a horror for any wheelchair operator. There are boxes and crates used to transport groceries in the way, so that every centimetre counts. But it was no problem with this compact wheelchair and its small joystick control unit that is like a little magic wand. When you select a really slow travel speed, the steering responds almost instantly. The faster you go, the longer the delay – at least that's how it feels to me, and I like it. After the visit to the supermarket, I headed for a playground. On the way there, the wheelchair faced a tough challenge: A kerbstone which was at least 15 cm high when you count the slope on either side. At first I didn’t even want to attempt crossing it, but the Otto Bock expert said:
“Go on, nothing is going to happen.” The opposite was true – something did happen. I went ahead and the wheelchair crossed the kerb. Although it landed pretty hard, that was clearly my fault.
The photos show how tight the steering is. The C2000 turns on the spot, you could even drive it around inside your home quite easily. Bringing home a basket of vegetables from the farmer’s market is no problem either. It has a proper, sturdy luggage rack instead of a little water bowl like many other wheelchairs. Compared to other power wheelchairs, the C2000 really is very compact – but only in terms of size. In regards to performance it does very well, at least as far as I can tell after this test. One other thing I found very interesting: The amount of room the C2000 needs to turn around is what my current wheelchair needs for clearance just to drive through – sad but true. Seating comfort is good. Of course I do have an orthopaedic Recaro seat, which is also available with the C2000.
After a long search, I finally found one drawback: The wheelchair looks really nice, but the backs of the rear lamps need improvement. Simple, dull, slightly dark black with two protruding screws and cables – certainly something can be done about that? But that was the only negative point I could find and Otto Bock responded immediately. They wrote to tell me that this wheelchair is a prototype and they are still working on minor details. Optimising the lamps is already in the works. They are going to be integrated into the frame components, right into the gold-coloured tube next to the seat. This planned change will give the wheelchair a slightly futuristic appearance, and my imagination tells me: It's going to look really cool, and you won't be at risk of loosing the lamps anymore. Nothing will be in the way, so that even luggage or a folding wheelchair stowed in the back won't be able to damage the rear lamps. At 54 years of age, I never thought I would get butterflies in my stomach anymore when I dream about a wheelchair. But after test driving the C2000, I didn’t want to give it back.”