KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A disabled Knoxville man is asking why it took so long for parts to arrive for his wheelchair.
Will Roberts ordered new wheels for his four-year-old wheelchair more than a month ago. He reached out to WATE because he’s afraid the tire will completely shred and he won’t be able to use his chair. After WATE made an inquiry to the Knoxville distributor of mobility equipment, Roberts was told that the supply of parts at the local warehouse was depleted by the pandemic.
The inner tube on the right wheel has come out of the casing on Robert’s wheelchair, which makes the chair wobbly and difficult for him to push. He’s depended on a wheelchair since he was a teenager. Roberts was featured in a WATE Big Brothers and Big Sisters special 29 years ago when he was in grade school. He has a genetic disorder called Hereditary Spactic Paraplegia, or HSP.
“I want to know when my wheelchair is going to get fixed so I can be able to move comfortably without worrying whether I’m going to topple backward,” said Roberts.
“If you look, I want to say the hard rubber casing is coming apart in the middle. It’s splitting open and leaving the rubber part inside the casing exposed. If the wheel breaks I won’t be able to wheel around in my chair or go anywhere for that matter,” said Roberts. “This is scary. If my wheel turns and I don’t catch my balance in the wheelchair by balancing my weight, then the wheelchair goes backward.”
The armrests on his chair are also coming apart.
“If you look back here this is the hard casing for it. The foam has been ripped apart. It is just from me placing my arm like this over a four-year span,” said Roberts.
The chair was manufactured by Sunrise Medical. The Quickie brand is the most popular customized wheelchair on the market, according to industry sources. The cost paid by Medicare and Medicaid for Roberts’ chair was $16,175 when it was bought four years ago. Roberts is on TennCare. His mobility depends on the wheelchair as he is in it 98% of the time.
His wheelchair was ordered and delivered by NuMotion’s Knoxville office. The corporate company is considered one of the nation’s leading providers of mobility devices and repairs. He contacted NuMotion to get replacement wheels on July 24.
“The director actually called me and said there were no shipments coming out as of lately from the manufacturer. They emailed and called them, but I still haven’t heard anything. According to NuMotion, they’re the middle man,” said Roberts.
WATE dropped by the office on the day of our interview with Roberts and asked about the delay. We didn’t get an answer but within an hour Roberts said he received a call. He said he was told by NuMotion that Sunrise, the manufacturer, had his wheels on August 11. Roberts said he was told by NuMotion’s VP, that the parts were ready to be shipped from California on August 27 and should be here within three days. That was seven days ago.
In the afternoon hours of August 29, NuMotion called Roberts. He was told the replacement wheels and armrests have arrived and they’ll be installed on August 30.
Roberts said the repairs to his wheelchair will be made at his home, so he won’t have to go to the Knoxville office. He told us while it’s been frustrating having to wait over five weeks for the new parts to arrive, he is grateful they’re finally here. He said, that once repaired, the chair will be a lot easier to wheel around.