Mobility Aid Spotlight: Cool Crutches

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For today’s post, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to interview Amelia Peckham, the co-founder of Cool Crutches. This is part of a new series that I’m running where I interview disabled people who do awesome things, so you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about Cool Crutches, but also how Amelia makes it work as a disabled entrepreneur. I’ve been using crutches since I had my first serious knee dislocation at 11, and never found a pair that I loved the look of and were comfortable. Granted, I never found a pair that were comfortable until recently, but I did end up with a some that at least had some colour to them, even though they didn’t fit me at all. I actually stopped using crutches quite a while before I got my chair because I ended up experiencing more pain and fatigue than I did when I didn’t use them, which isn’t really ideal for a mobility aid. I first learned about Cool Crutches on Instagram, and I was immediately drawn to them and their story, and I just had to learn more. Amelia very kindly loaned me a pair of black with white polka dot crutches to test out, and I’ll share my experiences with them at the bottom of this interview. What is your background and why did you decide to start your business? In 2005 when I was 19 years old and studying History at Edinburgh University, I had a quad bike accident. My adult life had hardly started and it was flipped upside down in a split second.  Whilst away for a weekend in remote Scotland with friends, we decided to take a quad bike into the countryside. It seemed like a good idea at the time and as only a 19-year-old could, I thought it would be fun to drive the quad bike (having never driven one before). Deranged? Yes, but never in a million years did I think about the risk of an accident. We were on a track with a long drop on one side which went down into a river & when we hit a pothole, I lost control of the bike and we set off down the hill. I hit the ground first, rolled at speed and my hips halted on a rock as my top half continued to roll, something which my consultant later described as looking like someone had taken a hammer to a meringue. Despite the dramatic launch from the track, we were incredibly lucky that I was the only one who was seriously injured (sadly one friend broke her finger and another suffered concussion but both recovered fully). I immediately lost all feeling from my waist down and was airlifted to Dumfries hospital. This was the beginning of the last 14 years. It was a life changing injury. Within days it was confirmed it would take at least a year to recover and even then, I would be permanently reliant on walking aids. After two months in a specialist spinal unit in the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, I was airlifted to Stoke Mandeville for further operations and spinal rehabilitation. Five months after the accident, my journey with crutches began. The NHS crutches I used were very uncomfortable on my hands and unstable; they clicked so everyone could hear me coming, and most importantly, made me look and feel disabled. At a time when my mental health as well as my physical health was at its most fragile, my crutches were seemingly offering more hindrance than support. Using information my mother & I gathered from incredible patients and friends, we researched, designed and sourced the first pair of Cool Crutches. Our crutches offer a high quality, safe alternative to NHS crutches. As time progressed, I slowly regained neurological, mental and physical strength. By 2018 (13 years after my accident) I felt, on a good day, I was nearly strong enough to use a walking stick. Again, we faced a problem – the majority of walking sticks on the market were not supportive enough, comfortable or fun. If I was going to start relying on a walking stick, it needed to be robust enough to support me and again, not cause any impediments to my hand. At this point we decided launching a Cool Walking Stick could be just the ticket and so in August 2019, we did just that! What makes your products different?  Cool Crutches are lightweight, moulded to a left and right hand, solid, silent and most importantly robust enough to safely support a long-term injury or condition. They are also colourful and customisable to aid those reliant on them, by cheering them up!  You can create ANY design you would like on either crutches or walking sticks. As with Cool Crutches, the Cool Walking Stick’s main priority is safety. It is moulded to a left and right hand and designed to be sturdy enough to support someone who relies on a walking stick, without compromising style. The handle is wider than a standard walking stick, so the surface area is larger and the weight that is pushed through the handle, distributed better. It holds the same clips as our crutches to ensure it is silent when used and the ferrule is the same to ensure it is cushioned when walking but grips well too. Can you walk me through the process of sourcing and creating your first product? Essentially, we started by trying to source a pair of comfortable, safe crutches I could put all my weight through without suffering from pain as a result.  I tried so many different crutches, I was lucky that the people I was in hospital with had a variety of different ones so between us we could hone in on elements of different crutches we liked, in order to create the ultimate design.  We then sourced a European manufacturer who created the first Cool Crutch in plain black.  With the physical product sorted we then started to source printing options to allow us to colour the crutches which now allows us […]

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