Saturday, February 19, 2011

Disabled Florida man builds his own ride

From ABC 7 in Fla.:

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - A disabled Englewood man is changing the world of wheelchairs. After being injured in a car crash, Brian Davids says he can no longer walk more than a couple feet and can't sit at all. He says standard wheelchairs just won't work, so he invented and built one on his own from scratch.

Davids says he would rather be able to sit without pain than walk. " I have nerve and disc damage to my lower back."

After a traffic accident nearly 20 years ago, he says he can barely do either. He says living a normal life is hard. "I would get in the back of our station wagon to get up to the Walmart and crawl behind a skateboard. You can only crawl so far. It's not very pleasant."

And for someone who can't sit, standard wheelchairs won't work. "There was nothing I could find that you could actually lay down on."

So on the floor of his garage, on his hands and knees, Brian's wheels got turning. He used old parts and scrap metal to create a machine you can drive and lay on. "I was out here on the floor of my garage like that. A friend of mine came over and set all the tools on the ground where I could reach them."

Wiring and welding, equipping it with all the bells and whistles, right down to a thumping stereo system. What came to life is what he calls the Igma. "I experimented with it, and after a couple of months I got it so I could get on it and go."

Brian now says he makes trips to run errands up to 20 miles away, allowing him to get out and see the world -- a world he says now greets him with smiles and waves. "People are tickled with it and excited. I don't think half of them even realize I'm disabled because they are having too much fun with the cart."

And about that name -- Igma? "I didn't know what to tell people. They would ask me what it was; I would always end with 'it gets me around'. That's how it got it's name."

Now the husband and father of two says he can do things he typically would struggle with or couldn't do at all. "I have a life. This thing literally saved my life. With two kids 10 and 13, I can go places."

Davids hopes his invention can make an impact. He says he wants to work with a non-profit to help build and donate the specialized machines. He especially wants to help injured service men and women.