First Step Of Another Journey

University Malaya Medical Centre, Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya
Photo by Wuan.

Of all the journeys that I have taken, this is the one I looked forward to most. It is neither a trip to a faraway land nor a much needed holiday to the many resorts locally. However, it is an important one in many ways. It is one that will give me back some parts of my life that I had to give up a long time ago. I am all excited about this, at the same time nervous too. It felt like the times that I sat for pianoforte examinations.

Yazid Ayub Occupational Therapist UMMC
Photo by Wuan.

Wuan and I spent one half of yesterday at University Malaya Medical Centre. I had an appointment with Dr. Nazirah Hasnan, Head of Medical Rehabilitation. That was the first time in 22 years that I saw a rehabilitation specialist for my spinal cord injury. I believed that had I followed a proper rehabilitation programme, a multitude of problems that I am suffering now could have been prevented. But that was not what I had gone to see Dr. Nazirah for.

Dr. Nazirah Hasnan, Head, Medical Rehabilitation, UMMC
Photo by Wuan.

Seksyen 30 of the Akta Pengangkutan Jalan 1987 requires that an orthopaedically impaired person applying to take driving test must be medically certified by a doctor. Dr. Nazirah had set the appointment to assess whether I can drive and if modifications are needed for the vehicle. She got En. Yazid Ayub, an occupational therapist with UMMC, to evaluate the various motor functions of my limbs. I was also tested on my ability to turn a steering wheel on a simulator. After En. Yazid completed his evaluation of me I went to see Dr. Nazirah again to have the medical certificate filled up. Generally, I am certified as able to drive an automatic vehicle installed with hand control kit.

My Dream Ride

Real men dream of owning and driving at least a Benz or Beemer, or even both, in their lifetime. I do too. The new BMW 5 Series have the looks that intimidate and attract at the same time. The Mercedes Benz C-Class Kompressor is no less sexy with its sleek profile. For now, those are only dreams. Even the streamlined Honda Civic is way beyond my league.

The one piece of metal that I would definitely like to own in the very near future is a Küschall. It is not surprising that many have not heard of that name before. Küschall is based in Switzerland. They are the manufacturer for high-end lightweight wheelchairs that are also noted for their minimalist designs.

Kuschall Airlite Pro
Image taken from

My dream ride is the Küschall Airlite Pro. This rigid frame wheelchair has many distinct advantages over the foldable wheelchairs that I have been using for the past 2 decades. It weighs slightly more than 8 kilograms at its most basic configuration. My current wheelchair weighs in at approximately 15 kilograms.

Imagine the burden Wuan has to lift every time we go out. Since I will be learning to drive soon, this wheelchair will be light enough for me to disassemble and carry into the car without assistance. The one shortcoming of rigid frame wheelchairs is that they may not be as compact as foldable ones.

The Airlite Pro cannot be purchased off the shelf. It has to be customised to fit the user’s body. This is what I am looking for as my posture has taken a beating from using wheelchairs that are not suitable for me for far too long. A rigid framed wheelchair also needs less energy to push. The only drawback is the price. An Airlite Pro configured to my specification will set me back more than USD2,000. At current exchange rate, that is RM7,400. Like the Honda Civic, this is beyond my league at the moment.