Why I Love My Permobil Corpus 500 WheelchairI recently purchased a brand-new Permobil Corpus C500 power wheelchair from The Exeter Disability Centre. A company called GM Coachwork who are based near Chudleigh Devon fitted a Permolock wheelchair restraint system in my van so I am now able to use my new Permobil all the time now. The last time I bought a Permobil was back in 2000, I had quite a lot of problems with the seating as it caused me to develop some skin problems in my lower back. The seating on this new Permobil Corpus 500 is very up-to-date and extremely revolutionary. My Permobil is fitted with what they call 3G seating, basically the seating is a lot more adaptable than the old style seating. You can read more about it here if you wish. The actual functions on my new Permobil are not that different to my old Permobil, the difference lies in the functions and how the wheelchair works, this is what makes this wheelchair so up-to-date and user-friendly for somebody like myself who has limited movement.
My new wheelchair has tilting seat function, basically, this means I can tilt the whole seat back and forth. I have opted for the 50° power tilt which takes me a lot further back than my old Permobil. The price for this function is the same as a standard tilt which is I believe 30°, I would definitely urge anyone to go for the 50° tilt as it takes you that much further back which can only be an advantage, especially if you rely on the tilt function for your pressure relief. It's also extremely comfortable lying so far back, you could easily have a nice peaceful and restful snooze In this position, that extra 20% makes a hell of a difference to how comfortable you feel, it's almost like lying in bed. The chair also has a powered backrest which is quite handy. I don't tend to use this as much as I do the tilting seat function, but it's always nice to have it there if you need it. One important function that I absolutely need is the powered leg rests, these are vitally important if you have long legs and drive a vehicle as I often have to alter the position of my legs when maneuvering in and out of the driving position in my van. Finally, I have a seat raise and lower function which is a really fabulous function to have. If you like going down the pub then you will love this function, the seat will rise high enough for you to sit next to the bar in most bars and socialise with your friends, rather than having to look up at everybody. I actually use this function a lot when I go fishing, I can raise my seat up and cast out without getting stuck in all the foliage in front of me.
A lot of disabled people will need to use specialised wheelchair cushions. Thankfully the Permobil Corpus 500 comes with removable seating, in other words, you can simply remove the seating and replace it with a cushion of your choice. I use a roho cushion all the time so I saved myself a few quid and didn't purchase the actual seat cushion that comes with the wheelchair.
You can operate all of the wheelchair functions from the joystick control unit. This means that I can operate my tilt function, raise and lower function, backrest and foot rests using either buttons or the joystick. If you have a dexterity problem with your fingers then you will find that using the joystick to control the tilt and recline is much easier than using the buttons, in fact using the joystick is much easier than trying to keep your finger on a small button.
The Permobil 500 has eight speeds altogether. These consist of five indoor speeds, and five outdoor speeds. These can be found under the button "Profile" on your control unit. If you are indoors then you are probably wise to use the indoor functions, the outdoor speeds are far too quick to use indoors, you'll probably end up breaking something if you try and travel at 10 km an hour in your house. The five indoor speeds range from 1 km an hour up to 5 km an hour, the outdoor speeds range from 2 km an hour up to 10 km an hour, believe me that is extremely quick.
Also displayed on the joystick LCD readout is a speedometer and the current time which is very helpful. By simply holding down the max and min speed control buttons you can access the configuration and customise the display to your own preference.
The only criticism I have with the design of the Corpus 500 is on the joystick control unit. They have positioned the indicators either side of the minimum and maximum speed control buttons. For those of us who haven't got finger control, it's very easy to accidentally switch the indicator on when you are making adjustments to the speed. This is a small criticism and by no means degrade the quality of workmanship of the chair in any way. I think that the indicator controls would be much better off located somewhere else, such in the area of where the hazard lights and light switches are already located. It's obvious that the wheelchair has been designing for people who can move their fingers, the indicator buttons are located here so that you can operate them while still controlling the joystick. I'm not even sure whether indicators are necessary on a wheelchair, in all the years I have been using power wheelchairs, I have never once had a need to use the indicators.
There are a number of extras that you can purchase for your new Permobil. Two of my very favourite additions to my new Permobil are the luggage pod, and the backpack. The luggage pod is made to fit on the back of the chair, just above the back wheels. It's a really great piece of kit, whereas it's not meant for you to be able to pack all your clothes into when going on holiday, it is certainly big enough to fit a few bits and pieces that you may need when going out for the day, maybe your sandwiches and a flask, or like me my fishing bait. It's got a canvas cover that also has a really nice zipped pocket built into it. It has a single backlight is well which I really like. I also purchased a backpack for my Permobil, this attaches onto the back of the seat via some carabiner type clips. The backpack itself is really good, it is slightly reinforced which means anything inside will be protected if you were to back into something for instant. The backpack is made so that you do not have to to unclip it from the back of the chair to gain access to the inside, it unzips giving you full access to the inside. If you've ever seen a laptop bag then this is based on one of those backpacks, lots of little compartments to put your bits and bobs. I have also bought a couple of backpacks from wheelchairgear.com over in the United States. Their backpacks are made to fit onto wheelchairs and they fit onto the Permobil perfectly.
The Permobil Corpus 500 can be adjusted for most shapes and sizes. The headrest can be adjusted so that it fits in different positions depending on how you sit in the wheelchair. I really love the new leg restraints, instead of just having two anchor points like I did on the Chairman, the Corpus 500 allows you to position the leg rests along the complete length of the seat by means of a linear sliding clamp. This basically means you can slide the leg rest the full length of the seat and clamp it where ever you want, this is a really great design. You can also purchase different sized leg rests, I have gone for the fairly long ones as I like to keep my legs nice and secure. You can also purchase extra clamps that fit on the wheelchair, then if you want to add something like a mobile phone on an adjustable flexible mount that you can position literally anywhere, you have the freedom to do so.
Relieve Pressure Using the Tilt in Space Function
One of the best extra accessories that can be added to most Permobil power wheelchairs is the ability to tilt the seating, commonly known as "tilt in space". The tilt in space function is ideal if you are not able to perform pressure relieving lifts, instead you can relieve pressure by tipping the wheelchair seat all the way back for a minute or two. When you purchase your Permobil you can choose how far you want the seat the tip, I believe it can either have 45°, or 50° of tilt. Since there is no difference in price, you are probably better off opting for 50° of tilt as this will give you the best pressure relief.
Pressure maps from left to right:
Upright; 45 degree tilt; 45 degree tilt with recline. The tilt with recline gives the best pressure relief in this case.
Remember that everybody is different. Some people weigh a lot more than others. It also depends on what sort of cushion you are sitting on. So bear in mind that the pressure mapping illustration on this page may differ quite a bit from you. It just gives you an idea of how a tilting/reclining wheelchair can help you avoid pressure problems
Images courtesy of SCI pages
I have made some videos which you can see below, these will give you a visual understanding of how this wheelchair works and how incredibly awesome it is.
If you are thinking about purchasing a Permobil Corpus 500 then get various quotes. They'll probably try and sting you for anything up to £20,000, however, you can get this wheelchair for a lot less if you haggle a price. To be fair to The Exeter Disability Centre I'm not going to disclose how much it cost me to purchase my Permobil Corpus 500 from them, but I promise you it was nowhere near £20,000. Let's not kid ourselves, a Permobil is going to cost you several thousand pounds, if you opt for all the seat function that you're talking well in excess of £10,000, but you get a lot for your money in my opinion. If you look after your wheelchair properly and get it serviced on a regular basis then it could last you over 10 years easily, my last Permobil gave me nearly 12 years of reliable service.
The Permobil is probably the best electric powered wheelchair on the market, I haven't found anything else that comes anywhere near what this wheelchair does. If you can afford to purchase a Permobil then go for it, I'll be very surprised if you regret it.
I have made various YouTube videos which you can see below showing the various speeds that the wheelchair can do, the seat functions, and also the joystick control unit
Permolock wheelchair restraint
This is the Permolock wheelchair restraint that I have had fitted in my Mercedes sprinter van recently.