Condition: SCI C4-C5
Prior Device: Pride Jazzy Power Chair
Main Use: Full-time mobility inside and outdoors
What’s your story?
In 2002 I was in a snowboarding accident and injured my neck at the C4-C5 level. I was airlifted to Modesto CA, and when I woke up in the ICU, I was barely able to breathe. With the support of my family, I started rehab and gave it everything I had. It was brutal but through respiratory therapy, I’m now able to breathe on my own, speak, and even sing. Physical therapy gave me back movement in most of my arms and some wrist movement.
Several years later, I graduated from the University of the Pacific Eberhardt School of Business and started G.U.S.T.O in 2013—creating and selling wheelchair accessories to “dispel any stigma about those who use chairs and create a fresh new spirit and energy around chair usage with vibrant, show-stopper pieces.”
Why did you choose Model M power wheelchair?
A friend was using Model M in the gym we attend for rehab in Pleasanton, CA. I asked if I could take it for a spin and she said, “Of course!” First of all, the design was phenomenal—aesthetically speaking, it took my breath away. Second, it was powerful and handled great. I was able to drive it right into the back of my FJ Cruiser with a simple collapsible ramp. Needless to say, I was sold!
What do you like about Model M power wheelchair?
I love the rugged capability of the Model M paired with its sleek, sophisticated design. It goes from everyday activities to outdoors effortlessly, and even after being injured on the mountain, I still love the outdoors. So the first chance I had, I loaded the Model M in the back of my FJ and drove 6 hours to Humboldt Redwoods State Park to go hiking and camping. I drove the Model M through rough terrain—over branches, dirt, and gravel. It was a dream come true having that kind of capability and freedom.
How has the Model M power wheelchair impacted your life?
The Model M has had a fantastic impact on my life. It has improved the way I feel in professional environments and, therefore, it has allowed me to share the mission of my company—to elevate the manual and power wheelchair experience, one beautiful accessory at a time—and reach more clients. The Model M is equally exceptional in social settings, as people see the chair and are excited, intrigued and curious, rather than being fearful. The Model M has allowed me to shine, rather than being overshadowed by my disability.
Note: Krystina had an extensive test drive with a demo unit.