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ROHO Products Selected for Best Picks by Mobility Management

ROHO’s new Smart Check™ with Sensor-Ready single valve cushions, and ROHO’s AGILITY Back Systems are named in the 2015 Clinician Best Picks by Mobility Management Magazine.

“Our Best Picks are chosen exclusively by healthcare professionals who work with seating & wheeled mobility equipment every day and know every product detail,” said Editor Laurie Watanabe. “Our winners have proven to be true innovators and consumer advocates, even in challenging funding atmospheres.”

For the fifth consecutive year, Mobility Management’s editorial staff asked clinicians and Assistive Technology Professionals (ATPs) specializing in seating & wheeled mobility to name their favorite complex rehab products. The expert selections are published in the Mobility Management July 2015 issue.

Mobility Management Publisher Karen Cavallo said, “We’re pleased once again to turn the spotlight on a few of the many rehab products making a difference to prominent OTs, PTs, ATPs and their clients every day. We’re happy to help celebrate the technology that optimizes independence and supports positive clinical outcomes for so many children, teens and adults who use wheelchairs.”

ROHO® is the industry-recognized leader in skin and soft tissue protection. The company pioneered the field of skin protection with the invention of ROHO DRY FLOATATION® technology – which is clinically proven to help prevent and heal pressure ulcers. Now with the 2015 introduction of Smart Check, the world’s first electronic cushion security system and with the success of the AGILITY Back System, ROHO demonstrates the company’s continued focus on innovative solutions.

Smart Check enhances compliance and communication. Clinicians can use Smart Check to easily set up a ROHO Sensor Ready Cushion, and clients have unlimited ability to check their ROHO inflation and immersion. Smart Check makes ROHO cushions accessible to even more clients, so clinicians can recommend ROHO with even greater confidence.

ROHO’s AGILITY Back System successfully fills gaps in the competitive back market, as shown by the Mobility Management Best Pick award. AGILITY is a strong, secure, adjustable back system featuring ROHO’s AIR FLOATATION™ Technology. And the easy-to-install and adjust hardware options boast the market’s best strength-to-weight ratio. Clinicians know that once they install an AGILITY, it stays secure and in position – just one of the reasons the product is a “Best Pick.”

“I am so proud of the ROHO team and grateful to Mobility Management for recognizing our latest products.  Even more fulfilling, though, is the knowledge that these new products are addressing the challenges of the clinicians and people who use ROHO products,” said Tom Borcherding, ROHO president and industry veteran.

In addition to the feature in the July print issue, 2015 Best Pick winners appear in the online version of the story on MobilityMgmt.com, and will have their products featured online at http://mobilitymgmt.com/bp15.

The Best Picks program celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2015.

About ROHO, Inc.

ROHO, a Permobil business unit, is a global leader of seating solutions that prevent and treat pressure ulcers. ROHO’s technology provides skin protection and positioning in a variety of applications: from wheelchair cushions, to therapeutic mattresses, to wheelchair backs and more. ROHO products are supported by extensive research, clinical studies and publications  around the world. ROHO’s products deliver life-changing benefits, offering comfort and protection to people relying on wheelchairs for mobility. On any given day, there are more than 1 million ROHO products in use worldwide.

For more information, visit www.roho.com or contact customer service at 800-851-3449.


Product photos available upon request.

ROHO’s Smart Check™ Cushion Wins Award for Product Innovation

Toronto, Ontario, May 18, 2015 – ROHO’s newest product, Smart Check™ has been named a gold winner in the Registrant Choice Harding Award for Product Innovation by the Canadian Seating & Mobility Conference.

ROHO® is the manufacturer of the world renowned DRY FLOATATION® technology, which helps heal and prevent pressure ulcers. The new Smart Check system provides maximum skin and positioning protection, plus it electronically checks and provides real-time feedback on cushion inflation of ROHO cushions. Clinicians can confidently recommend a ROHO Smart Check cushion knowing that clients can easily check to ensure that they remain at the recommended inflation setting.

The Canadian Seating and Mobility Conference is an unparalleled forum where therapists, rehabilitation technologists, equipment suppliers and manufacturers come together to share information and network with colleagues in the field of assistive technologies. The May 2015 Conference held in Toronto, Ontario  marked the 30th year of the conference, where the Best New Product Awards were announced.

Conference attendees voted for the award nominees. ROHO was recognized as a leader in the rapidly changing assistive technologies and awarded for its innovation.

Andy Woodcock, ROHO’s Sales representative across Canada accepted the award for ROHO. Woodcock said, “With Smart Check, our cushion users can now monitor their cushion with the push of a button, giving them the security and independence they deserve. ROHO has always made the best cushions, but Smart Check is innovation that will revolutionize the cushion industry, as well as, make a huge impact on our patient’s lives.”

For more information about ROHO and the Smart Check cushion, please visit: www.roho.com/smartcheck.

About ROHO, Inc.

ROHO is the worldwide leader of seating solutions that prevent and treat pressure ulcers. ROHO’s technology provides skin protection and positioning in a variety of applications: from wheelchair cushions, to therapeutic mattresses, to wheelchair backs and more. ROHO’s products deliver life-changing benefits, offering comfort and protection to people relying on wheelchairs for mobility.  ROHO is the pioneer of air-cell based cushions, and created DRY FLOATATION TECHNOLOGY®, mimicking the pressure-relieving properties of water. With more than 1 million ROHO products in use in more than 80 countries worldwide, clinicians can be confident in prescribing ROHO products. Plus, all ROHO products are backed by an unmatched level of clinical evidence from leading researchers around the world.

For more information, visit www.roho.com or contact customer service at 800-851-3449.


Product photo available upon request
Media Contact:
Dan Hughes
Director of Marketing –ROHO, Inc.

Groundbreaking Research Uncovers New Insights for Reducing Deadly Pressure Ulcers in Wheelchair Patients

Study shows air cell cushions are 10,000 times better than standard foam for preventing deep tissue injury 

ST. LOUIS, December 10, 2014 ROHO, Inc., a leader in wheelchair seating solutions since 1973, today announces research findings that recognize adjustable air cell cushions as medically superior for reducing deep-tissue injuries and skin breakdown1, which can lead to deadly pressure ulcers and costs the American healthcare system billions of dollars per year.2

The study, conducted by Dr. Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University, provides new clinical data to guide recommendations for the best cushions to protect people who use wheelchairs for mobility. The new study is the first to offer a comparison between two commonly used wheelchair cushion technologies – foam-based (representing the largest number of cushions in use) and ROHO’s air-cell technology.

The Issue: 

Pressure ulcers are a serious public health issue: fast to develop, extremely expensive, hard to heal and potentially fatal. In the U.S., nearly 60,000 patients die each year from complications linked to hospital-acquired pressure ulcers3 – almost twice as many deaths as from motor vehicle accidents.4 The cost to treat one single full-thickness pressure ulcer is about $70,000.2

As deadly and costly as pressure ulcers can be, they remain a daily concern for the 3.6 million Americans who use wheelchairs for mobility.5 But Gefen’s groundbreaking research is changing that.

Dr. Gefen and other leading researchers around the globe found that cell deformation was the cause of deep-tissue injury (DTI), starting deep and invisible – from the inside out. Prior research pointed toward skin breakdown and constricted blood flow as a leading cause. This study was the first to apply this knowledge to a direct comparison between different types of wheelchair cushions.

“Our study revealed an important insight about the best ways to minimize these deformations – and therefore DTIs – in wheelchair users,” said Gefen. “Adjustable air cell cushions were far superior over foam and could be the key to helping avoid pressure ulcers. The findings are significant not only because of the size of the wheelchair users’ population, but also because of the healthcare system’s cost in treating pressure ulcers – more than $11 billion annually in the U.S. alone.2

Study Methods and Results: 

The study used seated MRIs and “finite element” computer modeling to unlock a new picture of the damage that causes deep- tissue injuries.

  • Gefen’s team compared the ROHO® QUADTRO SELECT® HIGH PROFILE® cushion and two flat, foam-based cushions with varying stiffness properties (7 kPa and 10 kPa) for individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI).
  • The study used an MRI slice from a 21-year-old SCI patient to develop an anatomically-realistic model of the patient’s left buttock.
  • For all three cushions, immersion was calculated as the percentage of skin surface in full contact with the cushion. Higher figures represent more surface area for load transfer, and potentially lower internal tissue loads.
  • The different mechanical stresses – compressive, tensile, shear and effective stress – were calculated.
  • Measures were recorded for each individual model, in the muscle, fat, and skin tissues under the ischial tuberosities during sitting, to determine the risks for the specific internal conditions.
  • For ROHO’s air cell cushion, immersion was consistently in the 91-93 percent range; for the foam cushions, the range was 58-65 percent.

Results demonstrated significant evidence that skin breakdown risk is much lower for ROHO adjustable air cell cushions compared to non-adjustable foam cushions. In fact, the study revealed that air cell cushions are 10,000 times better than foam in reducing tissue damage that can cause death.

Moreover, bone flattening led to higher peak stresses on muscle tissue in the foam cushions, but lower stresses for the air cell cushion. Likewise, muscle atrophy substantially increased fat and skin stresses on foams, but substantially decreased them on the air cell cushion. Both of these sets of results demonstrate that as the patient’s condition advanced, the air cell cushion decreased the risk even further in comparison to a foam support.

“The Gefen study proved what ROHO has believed for 40 years: Air cell cushions that ROHO pioneered prevent deformation through immersion and envelopment,” said Tom Borcherding, president of ROHO. “ROHO is committed to leading the industry in developing the science to improve the lives of people that use wheelchairs for mobility, and we drive U.S. and international standards that our competitors do not. This new and groundbreaking work is already providing the evidence for a critically needed change in direction, toward prescribing better and safer sitting solutions. ”

About ROHO ROHO, Inc. is a leading global wheelchair cushion manufacturer. Specializing in seating solutions with shape fitting technology® since 1973, ROHO manufactures and distributes a variety of standard and custom-size wheelchair cushions and accessories, back systems, and support surfaces. Made in the United States for over 40 years, ROHO provides outstanding manufacturing controls for proven and consistent quality. For more information, visit www.roho.com or contact customer service at 800-851-3449.


1   Ayelet Levy, Kara Kopplin, Amit Grefen. An air-cell-based cushion for pressure ulcer protection remarkably reduces tissue stresses in the seated buttocks with respect to foams: Finite element studies. Journal of Tissue Viability (2014) 23, 13-23.

2   Duncan KD. Preventing pressure ulcers: the goal is zero. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf 2007;33(10):605e10.

3   Lyder, C. (2003). “Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Management.” Journal of American Medical Association 289: 223-226.

4   National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2012, January 1). Retrieved September 11, 2014, from http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

5.  U.S. Census Bureau, Americans with Disabilities 2010.

ROHO Helps Honor Disabled Veterans with Custom-Designed Cushion Donation

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, November 17, 2014 – During a Veteran’s Day commemoration ceremony at the historic Alamo, 40 wounded service members were honored with the gift of custom-built Segway® transporters.  Of those, four were Ally Chair Adapted Segways outfitted with ROHO® cushions and ROHO® AGILITY™ backrests.  These donations were made possible by Segs4Vets to improve their mobility and independence.Segs4Vets ceremony 4

The honored veterans served in either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty five of the 40 veterans lost limbs during their service. They now carry a permanent reminder of their military service and will for the rest of their lives.

Segs4Vets is ranked as one of America’s best charities by the Independent Charities of America and has received the prestigious Spirit of Hope Award from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Jerry Kerr, President and Co-Founder of Segs4Vets presented the specially adapted Segways on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 10:45 a.m. at a public ceremony during the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s annual Celebrate America’s Military week.

This year’s presentation is the fourteenth time specially adapted Segways have been presented to recognize veterans. Four of the 2014 recipients received an Ally Chair Adapted Segway. The Ally Chair is a new, universally designed recreational device, which is currently only available through Segs4Vets. The Segs4Vets program transforms the traditional Segway transporter into a seated mobility device for individuals who cannot use prosthetic devices.  Plans are underway to expand the offerings of Ally Chairs utilizing ROHO technologies for eligible veterans.

ROHO_SEGS4VETSThe Ally Chair utilizes ROHO’s seat cushions and AGILITY™ Backrests to provide skin protection, positioning and comfort for the user. ROHO’s unique cellular-air design constantly adjusts to an individual’s body movement and adapts to their changing shape. The adjustment and conformity of the cells accommodate and meet the one-of-a-kind skin integrity needs for each veteran throughout the day. This year alone, ROHO has donated $32,000 in engineering and customer manufactured products in support of Segs4Vets’ mission.

In addition to those who lost limbs, other recipients either sustained spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, developed cancer, or suffered severe orthopedic, neurological and soft tissue damage which makes it difficult or impossible for them to walk without assistance or pain. Studies show the lack of mobility is a greater obstacle to employment than blindness. Many are being treated at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. Military medical centers have incorporated the Segway into rehabilitation since Segs4Vets began awarding the transporters nine years ago.


Segs4Vets is a program of Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT). The program is dedicated to restoring independence and productivity to severely injured service members as part of DRAFT’s core mission to expand and improve access for all disabled people. Segs4Vets has awarded more than 1,300 Segways since 2005 and plans to continue the program to meet the ongoing needs of the thousands of worthy applicants who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As a charitable organization, $0.94 of every dollar goes towards providing equipment and services to veterans.


ROHO is the worldwide leader of seating solutions that prevent and treat pressure ulcers and tissue deformation. ROHO’s technology provides skin protection and positioning in a variety of applications; from wheelchair cushions, to therapeutic mattresses, to wheelchair backs and more.

ROHO’s products deliver life-changing benefits, offering comfort and protection to people relying on wheelchairs for mobility.  ROHO is the pioneer of air-cell based cushions, and created DRY FLOATATION TECHNOLOGY® mimicking the pressure-redistributing properties of water. With over 1 million ROHO products in use in over 80 countries worldwide, clinicians can be confident in prescribing ROHO products.  Plus, all ROHO products are backed by an unmatched level of clinical evidence from leading researchers around the world.

With the increasing focus on patient outcomes and safety, ROHO’s established technology is paramount in treating the over 2.5 million patients suffering pressure ulcers annually and reducing the $11 billion in annual healthcare cost for the treatment of pressure ulcers.


Dan Hughes
Director of Marketing –ROHO, Inc.

Q & A with Jamie Goodwin

Blogging via Facebook.com/Wheelin’ Weightloss

Why did you start blogging?

I started writing and sharing my story to inspire others to lose weight and to have accountability partners in return.

Jamie Goodwin - Interviwe

If you could give your page a permanent hashtag what would it be?


Gadget/”trick” you use that makes life in a wheelchair a little easier?

Ask for help. People are always willing to help.

What would your followers be surprised to learn about you?

I grew up on a farm and milked goats until I was 12 years old.

Finish these sentences:

I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me ten years ago that…. I would be the mom of 3 boys and a pastor’s wife!

In the next 10 years I really hope… To have reached my goal weight (45 more pounds to go) and to have written a book.

If no one read my blog/posts I would… keep posting! Seeing my progress and setbacks always help when you are on a weight loss journey like this.

Visit my blog/page if you….want to be inspired to lose weight and get healthy!

I get happy when I… go camping with my husband and 3 boys!

ROHO Elite Interview: John McRoberts

John McRoberts - Elite LiveRoho
Meet John McRoberts, a medal-winning Paralympic Sailor for Canada.  John splits time between Victoria, British Columbia and St. Petersburg, FL.  Always an active person, John participated in everything from wheelchair rugby to racing before finally settling on sailing. To John sailing has longevity, “Other sports have a shelf life because of your age. Sailing can be done until the day I die.”

Disability or Age Doesn’t Matter

Unlike other sports that require being able to move a wheelchair around aggressively or upper-body strength, John points out that with sailing disability or age doesn’t matter, it’s mentality. “The beauty of sailing is that you can compete with a high level disability. Anybody can do this. [On the water] it’s about being faster and smarter – it doesn’t matter about the chair. I get to leave my chair behind. It’s really good mentally to be free from it, you know?”


As part of John’s training he spends time both on the water and in the gym. Four days a week he spends 3 hours on the water practicing. At the gym John is stretching and working with a trainer on machines.

Paralympic Sports

We asked John if he weren’t sailing, what Paralympic sport would he want to compete in? “Rugby. I played when I was younger but since then the chairs have evolved; the whole sport has evolved. Rugby is the ticket everyone wants at the games.”

Security is Peace of Mind

John is equipped with a ROHO cushion both in his chair and on his boat. “You can be as talented and adventurous as you want but if your health isn’t good you can’t do anything. Sitting on a ROHO is a huge peace of mind. I know I’m going to be fine. It allows me to check off one of those precautionary things that I have to worry about each day. It’s my security blanket. “

The Future

After meeting his wife Jackie sailing, they got married in 2010.  Jackie also enjoys staying active and is John’s sailing partner.  Together they are committed to going to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Best of luck!

To see more ROHO Elite members ROHO Community!

Is It Time To Replace Your Cushion?

“How do I know when it’s time to replace my cushion?” This is an important question that frequently comes up at consumer shows, a question that has a several answers.

Continue reading

Monica Bascio Balances Family Life and Career in Her Quest for Paralympic Gold in London

Monica Bascio on her way to victory in a hand cycling road race.Guest blog post by Bob Vogel

Monica Bascio will be representing the U.S. in handcycling time trial and road race events in the upcoming 2012 Paralympic Games in London that kicks off in six weeks. For Bascio, 42, handcycling in the Paralympics is the culmination of a 14-year journey of dedication and hard work. Bascio is a natural athlete and extremely competitive, however sports is just one aspect of her multi-faceted life—she is the proud mom of her 5-year-old son, Henry, dedicated wife with her husband, Ian, and an Occupational Therapist specializing in geriatrics.

Bascio became a T12 paraplegic in 1992 as a result of a skiing accident.  Following SCI rehab she pursued a degree in Occupational Therapy.  She got her first handcycle in 1997 as a way to stay fit and enjoy the outdoors with Ian, a former bike racer, and quickly developed a passion for the sport.

Bascio started handcycle racing in 1998 and was ranked the number one handcyclist in the world over the next five years, winning more that 30 handcycle races. In 2004 handcycling made its debut as a Paralympic sport in Athens, Greece, but unfortunately there was no women’s division–a huge disappointment for Bascio, who was arguably the top woman handcyclist at the time.

Undeterred, Bascio decided to try adaptive cross-country skiing (sit skiing). Once again her natural athletic ability, competitive nature and work ethic enabled her to quickly rise through the competitive ranks earning her a six-year run on the U.S. ski team where she represented the U.S. as a cross-country sit skier in the 2006 and 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

In the off-season Bascio continued handcycling as a form of cross-training.

Bascio took much of 2007 off from competing in order to embark on a new adventure. On July 8 of that year, she gave birth to her son Henry and she and Ian proudly adapted to the world of parenthood.  By early 2008 Bascio was ready to start competing and the family created a balance of parenting, work and training that would enable Bascio to get back into ski racing.

Around the same time, Bascio’s dream of Paralympic handcycling seemed like it would come to fruition when it was announced that women’s handcycling would become an event at the 1998 summer Paralympics in Beijing.  Unfortunately in March she broke her tibia and fibula transferring out of a team van while at cross country race in Norway. Although her leg healed in time for her to compete in the Paralympic trials, she didn’t have enough time to get back into racing form and didn’t make the team.

After competing in the 2010 winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Bascio considered retiring from competition, but a rule change added an H3 class to the Paralympics. This meant she would be racing against athletes with similar function rather than an open class. Bascio quickly set her sights on the London Paralympics with the family agreeing to take it “One race at a time.”

Motherhood, family life, work and training at an elite level requires amazing balance and dedication. “On a typical day I’m up at 6:00am to put in a solid 3-hour workout on my handcycle. On some days it is a 4-hour workout.  In the meantime, Ian makes breakfast for Henry and gets him ready for the day.”  She says.  “By around 10:00am, I’m home. Ian heads to the office and I take over watching Henry and maintaining the housework.  We take turns making dinners.  Ian and I chuckle because most of our dinner conversation revolves around my training.”  Ian watches Henry on the days Bascio is working as an OT.  “The key to making it all work is we support each other, communicate and work together to balance the challenges of work, raising Henry and training for the Paralympics.”

Bascio says that although the family enjoys the hectic schedule, it can be draining.  “Ian cracks up because although I hardly ever watch TV, I love watching ‘The Biggest Looser’ (a show about weight-loss ‘boot camp’). She says. “I look at the show and think, ‘If all I had to do was stay at a campus and have a coach and do workouts all day it would be like a vacation!’”

Bascio says the other challenge in balancing family life with competition is the travel schedule. “My last trip in June was pretty crazy.  I was racing at a World Cup race in Italy for two weeks, flew back to the States, was home for two weeks, then flew to Spain to race in a World Cup race.” She says.

“Then I flew to London for 36 hours to ride the race course, then flew straight to the Nationals in Augusta, GA, and of course the plane was delayed so I didn’t get in until about 9:00pm and met Ian and Henry and Henry hadn’t seen me in so long and wanted to go swimming at the pool at the hotel, and I still had to put my bike together—then had a race the next day.”

Bascio has been an avid ROHO user for the past 15 years.  “I love ROHOs” says Bascio. “When I was first injured 20 years ago, the equipment vendor I had in rehab had the ‘old school’ mentality that a ROHO cushion was for people with higher level injuries or people that already had problems with skin breakdown so they ordered a gel cushion. I didn’t like it because it was heavy and I didn’t want to take the time to massage the gel the way I was supposed to.  When it was time to order my next cushion I switched to a ROHO and I’ve been using them ever since.”

As an OT and an athlete, Bascio is aware of how quickly a pressure ulcer can happen. “I know wheelchair users that have had pressure ulcers and I’ve seen what they go through and the great length of time it takes to heal.  I’m not willing to take that risk.” she says. “When I broke my leg it cost me a spot on the Paralympics and a pressure ulcer can take much longer to heal.  I’m always sitting on a ROHO.  I use a ROHO QUADTRO SELECT LOW PROFILE on my chair and I sit on a LTV ROHO Seat Cushion in the car.  I keep an ADAPTOR Pad in my backpack for travel and use it in the tub or shower bench, or when I’m sitting on the side of a pool or sitting on the ground working on my bike.  And of course I sit on my QUADTRO SELECT on long plane flights.”

Ian and Henry, along with other members of Bascio’s family will be in London to cheer for Bascio.  “Henry gets to travel to a lot of competitions.  He has become a member of the handcycling community.  Everybody knows him and a lot of the other athletes have kids so he has friends to play with. He has his own frequent flyer card and is already on his 2nd passport.”

Says Bascio.  Proof of the saying, “The family that plays together, stays together.”race.


Bob VogelBob Vogel, 51, is a freelance writer for the ROHO Community blog. He is a dedicated dad, adventure athlete and journalist. Bob is in his 26th year as a T10 complete para. For the past two decades he has written for New Mobility magazine and is now their Senior Correspondent. He often seeks insight and perspective from his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Schatzie, his 9-year-old German Shepherd service dog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of Bob Vogel and do not necessarily reflect the views of The ROHO Group. You can contact Bob Vogel by email at online.relations@therohogroup.com.

Dan Buchanan, International Airshow Performer, Mentor, ROHO User

Guest blog post by Bob Vogel

Dan Buchanan. Photo courtesy of Dan Buchanan.

Friends and mentors are priceless. In 1985, while still coming to grips with my spinal cord injury in the rehab hospital, a fellow hang-glider pilot named, Dan Buchanan, who is also a T8 complete para came to visit me. Dan’s visit helped me a great deal, mainly because in between dolling out tidbits of SCI survival wisdom he kept looking out the window. Within a short period of time he said “Man, the weather is looking really good for flying, so I gotta go. I’ll catch you later.” This was the perfect thing to say! The light went on! Dan’s life revolves around flying hang gliders! Paralysis wasn’t even on the radar screen.

Dan helped show me the ropes of thriving with SCI, everything from advice in ordering equipment: “Order the smallest chair you can fit into, and tell your therapist you want a ROHO cushion,” to helping me rig my hang glider and get back in the air. Over time we’ve become close friends and shared many adventures.

As I said, Dan’s life revolves around in flying hang gliders, so much so that in 1989 he left a successful career in mechanical engineering to pursue a path as a professional airshow hang glider pilot.

Dan devoted years into honing his routines, methodically developing, refining, and marketing his airshow performances. These days he is one of the most sought after air-show acts in on the circuit!

One of the many cool things about Dan’s airshow act is that it enables the general public to see beyond a wheelchair. His chair has nothing to do with the act. That is, until the finale.

To get airborne, Dan launches from a moving trailer driving down the runway at 35 mph. Once he is in the air, a winch on the trailer pays out line as Dan steadily tow-climbs to altitude as the trailer is towed down the runway. He has long colorful streamers and smoke from canisters trailing his glider. He has crafted several different routines, from an opening act flying with an American flag while the Star Spangle Banner plays, to night routines complete with lights and bright pyrotechnics.

Dan’s day show is a comedy act where he “mistakenly” launches during the middle of another performers aerobatic routine. The announcer, the other performer and Dan all exchange banter on the PA and “pretend” it is a mistake, but Dan refuses to leave the sky. Soon a police car is on the ground chasing the tow trailer and the aerobatic airplane tries to chase Dan out of the sky by buzzing his hang glider. Dan tries to chase the plane away by shooting special effects rockets and pyrotechnics, his version of a “3rd world warbird impression.” At this point Dan’s altitude is about 1,500 feet and he releases the tow rope and the announcer introduces him. He gently swoops, turns and glides down and rolls to a stop front of the audience.

An aerobatic airplane tries to "chase" Dan Buchanan out of the sky during airshow performance. Photo courtesy of Dan Buchanan.

This is when the announcer explains that Dan is a paraplegic, while overhead a helicopter delivers Dan’s wheelchair which is dangling from a cable. The aerobatic plane lands and tows Dan in his wheelchair over to the crowd where Dan shakes hands, answers questions and signs autographs.

Each year during the airshow season  —  April through October  —  Dan’s performances are seen by millions of people around the world as he travels to over 25 cities. To get from show to show requires driving more than 45,000 miles each summer. It is not uncommon for Dan to drive thousands of miles in a single week to get from one show to the next.

In addition to North America, Dan has performed in Australia, Japan, Thailand, El Salvador, The United Arab Emirates, Canada and Mexico  —  an exhausting travel schedule requiring lots of windshield time as well as sitting on very long commercial flights often across many time zones.

In December, Dan was honored by his peers on the airshow circuit when he received the Art Scholl Award for Showmanship at the International Council of Airshows (ICAS) convention banquet  —  one of the highest honors an airshow pilot can receive.

Last week I was fortunate enough to catch up with Dan via phone while he was doing a “short” 700-mile commute from North Carolina to Tennessee for his next show.

Bob Vogel (BV): Congratulations on the Art Scholl Award. Did you know it was coming?

Dan Buchanan (DB): No I didn’t. It was a complete surprise and a great honor  —  also a bit embarrassing. All the other pilots are flying planes, jets and helicopters that cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, and here I am flying a hang glider that cost around six-thousand dollars. But mainly it was a great honor.

BV: So I’m trying to do the math — how old are you and how many years have you been injured?

DB: I’m 56-years-old and this is my 31st year as a para.

BV: Wow! I’m 52 and 27 years post injury. It seems to me having a SCI ages us in dog years, how do you manage to keep healthy, especially with all of the travel, days of driving and overseas flights?

DB: Part of it is I come from the old school rehab where they drummed into you the how to take care of myself. I manage to keep myself thin so I’m not stressing my shoulders. I also do a skin check with a mirror every day. So far, so good.

BV: What kind of cushion are you sitting on these days?

DB: I’m sitting on a ROHO® QUADTRO SELECT® LOW PROFILE®. I love these things, I’ve been sitting on a ROHO ever since I was hurt. I wouldn’t sit on anything else. I’m not sponsored by them. I don’t even get a free cushion. In fact, I paid cash for my last cushion because I was about to head out of the country and didn’t have time to mess with prescriptions and insurance.

And I always make sure my ROHO is under me — on my car seat, on the seat on the airplane, you name it.

BV: So even with all of your travel, no pressure sores?

DB: Nope, I’ve never had a pressure sore. But I’ve dodged a pressure sore bullet. Years ago I got careless and was sitting on a seat without a cushion for a while and got the start of a pressure sore. Fortunately, I caught it during my mirror check the same day. I was on a ROHO HIGH PROFILE® Single Valve at the time…Sure enough it worked, and the area got a little better every day. Within two weeks it was gone.

I learned my lesson and always keep a cushion underneath me. And like I said, I check my skin with a mirror because I can’t afford to miss a show and I don’t ever want to end up on my stomach for a couple months trying to heal a pressure sore.

BV: Thanks Dan! Safe travels!

Thinking back to when Dan first visited me in rehab I remember asking him if he thought there would be a cure for SCI — something I secretly hoped for. He replied. “I don’t think so. But here is the deal, let’s say there is a cure in say 25-years. Project yourself 25-years in the future and think back on what you would have wanted to do. Live an amazing life full of adventure, or mope about waiting for a cure?” I took those words to heart. Here I am 27-adventure-filled-years later. Grateful for good advice from a good friend!



Bob VogelBob Vogel, 51, is a freelance writer for the ROHO Community blog. He is a dedicated dad, adventure athlete and journalist. Bob is in his 26th year as a T10 complete para. For the past two decades he has written for New Mobility magazine and is now their Senior Correspondent. He often seeks insight and perspective from his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Schatzie, his 9-year-old German Shepherd service dog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of Bob Vogel and do not necessarily reflect the views of The ROHO Group. You can contact Bob Vogel by email at online.relations@therohogroup.com.