My name is Gerald van Grunsven. At a young age, I found out that I have haemophilia type A. Haemophilia is an inherited disorder characterized by bleeding in muscles and joints due to a deficiency in clotting factors. When I was young I experienced many internal bleedings, because of this I suffer from certain symptoms of haemophilia. Especially the arthrosis in my knees and elbows is a major burden and limitation. The arthrosis often leads me to rely on a wheelchair, especially when I have to cover long distances.
Despite my physical limitations, I started playing table tennis when I was 10 years old. When I reached my teenage years, physical constraints prevented me from continuing playing table tennis, so I began coaching youth teams instead. Fortunately, with new medication the physical discomfort became less severe, allowing me to stand behind the table tennis table again.
"My wheelchair table tennis adventure began in July 2014."
In July 2013, problems with my left knee arose, a difficult period began that lasted over six months. Eventually, on November 5, 2013, I received a knee prosthesis and had to learn to walk again. The prothesis greatly improved the range of motion in my knee, but I realised that playing table tennis in a standing position would remain an unattainable dream. Nevertheless, table tennis had to be played, and thus my wheelchair table tennis adventure began in July 2014.
"For playing wheelchair table tennis, I need a small wedge in my wheelchair, which can only be created with a wheelchair cushion."
As a wheelchair table tennis player, it is important to have a good sitting position in the wheelchair. For me personally, I need to sit in a small wedge, i.e. at the back of the wheelchair a bit higher than at the front. Unfortunately, this wedge cannot be created within the wheelchair, and the wheelchair cushion I had couldn’t be adjusted. I then started searching for a wheelchair cushion that would help me in achieving the desired sitting posture. After searching online, I ended up on Vicair’s website where I noticed that they have a trial service (only available in the Netherlands). I submitted a trial service request and received the Vicair Vector O2 wheelchair cushion, which I was allowed to try out for free for 3 weeks. I liked the Vicair cushion from the very beginning!
"The Vicair Vector O2 is easily adjustable to accommodate a small wedge position and provides sufficient stability."
The gel cushion I had before was very unstable, and I couldn’t adjust it to create a small wedge position. For me, these are the most important features in a wheelchair cushion. By moving the individual SmartCells within the Vicair Vector O2 from one compartment to another, I can create the small wedge in order to play table tennis.
Since I can still walk with crutches, I only use the wheelchair for longer distances and for playing table tennis. The stability of the Vicair cushion allows me to keep the cushion adjustment in place, without needing to readjust it when using the wheelchair for purposes other than table tennis. Additionally, it’s great that the entire cushion (with the SmartCells still inside) can be washed in the washing machine.