Monday, April 30, 2007

Introduction -- emPOWERing Wheelchair Users! :-)

Welcome to my blog! :-)

I'll cut to the chase -- this blog will illuminate how power wheelchair users are getting back in the game of life.

I'm one such power wheelchair user.

My name is Bill Miller; I'm a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic due to a spinal cord injury incurred August 23rd, 1997. I'm diagnosed as a C1-2 (complete) quadriplegic -- and I have a legitimate 202 high bowling game.

Several years ago, I wanted to get back in the game of life, but there really was no way, no sport or recreational endeavor that I could actively participate in. But I can operate my power wheelchair independently (with my mouth) via what's called a sip-and-puff system (I'm paralyzed from the neck down). My Stepmom saw how well I could drive my wheelchair, and absolutely knew there must be some way that I could bowl, using my chair.

She eventually got me together with a retired engineer named Claude Giguere (pronounced: G-gair). The two of us got together and invented a really cool way for me to bowl, and if someone who is completely paralyzed from the neck down (like me) can bowl -- shouldn't virtually any wheelchair user also be able to bowl?

That idea -- and the genuine desire to improve the quality of life for people whose bodies require them to use power wheelchairs -- is now embodied in a company called Manufacturing Genuine Thrills, Inc. doing business as MGT (for short). That first strike is a genuine thrill. The name for the bowling device comes from a Greek word, ikano, meaning enable. What enables me and can enable virtually all power wheelchair users to bowl is the IKAN Bowler®.

Wheelchair users: IKAN? Yes You Can! :-)

When developing the IKAN Bowler (which really started back in 2003) another sport for power wheelchair users was starting to blossom -- power soccer -- which is already pretty popular. But after doing some research, we learned from power soccer players that the only commercial soccer guard (a 3-sided shield that protects the user's legs and enables him or her to push an extra-large soccer ball) available, that using it occasionally resulted in damage to their wheelchairs (it used a single clamp to attach the guard to one of the user's legrests, and while there aren't supposed to be any collisions playing power soccer, if one did occur, sometimes the legrest would break off from the wheelchair).

In developing the IKAN Bowler, by far the most challenging aspect was developing an easy, quality mounting system that could fit multiple styles of wheelchair. We developed (and have a patent pending on) a Universal Mount that will work on every wheelchair with two side legrests (not power-elevating legrests, users with those can get a set of standard legrests to use for bowling/soccer; we also have a mount that accommodates chairs with the new center-post style legrests). So we developed the IKAN Soccer Guard to work with our Universal Mount (it also works with the center-post mount). The quality two-clamp system is able to withstand any reasonable collision. We repeatedly rammed a brick wall with the IKAN Soccer Guard and Universal Mount attached to a manual wheelchair (used for testing purposes) and we couldn't break the guard or the legrests. True story. (The center-post style is even more crash resistant.)

The beauty of our mounts is that with the IKAN Bowler attachment and the IKAN Soccer Guard attachment, people can do two sports (not at the same time, of course:). We're quite proud to be able to offer the ability to play two sports to people with significant physical disabilities that require the use of power wheelchairs -- including people with Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, Spinal Cord Injuries, Quadriplegia, Multiple Sclerosis and more.

Medical experts and IKAN Users have said using our products is fun, social, therapeutic, competitive, and recreational.

The world record holder for bowling by a quadriplegic is Jon Musgrave, a C4-5 quad due to a spinal cord injury in 1991. Jon bowls anywhere from 3-5 days a week, and bowled an amazing 243. He said: "Who could have thought that one thing could change a person's life so much. I have something that I'm good at to look forward to enjoying every day; something I can share with my family and fiends. I can tell you this for sure, my life has not been the same since I got my IKAN Bowler®."

That's how we're getting power wheelchair users back in the game of life.

With this blog, I plan to tell you more about Jon, and others like Jon. I want to profile people who think life is better with the IKAN Bowler. I'll bring some IKAN Soccer Guard news here also, but our primary product is the IKAN Bowler. There is no other assistive bowling device that enables users to mimic the able-bodied bowling process, i.e. setup, begin the approach and release the ball upon reaching the foul line.

The IKAN Bowler attaches to the user's wheelchair. A caddy places the ball atop the IKAN Bowler, as the user instructs (how the finger holes are positioned determines the shape of the shot). The user's knowledge of the ball, plus where the user sets up, then drives forward, turning the chair slightly left and right (aiming the shot) as necessary when approaching the foul line, and finally braking the wheelchair which sends the ball down the IKAN Bowler -- that is what determines how well we bowl.

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) declared that process and the IKAN Bowler acceptable for league play -- any league anywhere in the U.S. -- sanctioning it for competition with and against able-bodied bowlers or IKAN Users.

Ok, that sets the foundation for this blog. I'll be back soon with the first profile and story about an IKAN User. I am also in school via the University of Florida's online business program (bachelor's degree) which takes up quite a bit of time, but I'll have at least one blog entry each month.

Our IKAN products are available right now for shipping anywhere in the world (shipping to the continental United States is included in the price, but we can ship anywhere).

Anyone who may be interested, ABSOLUTELY MUST READ my next post about a PRICE BREAK on our products (click HERE!:).

Thank you very much for your interest! :-)


Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 202 High Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website:
Personal website:
emPOWERing Wheelchair Users!

1 comment:

TomFX said...

Speaking of "illuminating"-

WheelchairFX launches an exciting new line of custom mobility lighting kits and accessories. These patent-pending L.E.D. lighting kits, will offer flash,fade,million-color options, remote control,and even music reactive capabilities. Power wheelchair sports teams,kids of all ages, the safety conscious, music lovers, and HME/DME companies, are all excited about these new products. WheelchairFX will partner with New York State Industries for the Disabled to provide kit assembly and distribution. Now with WheelchairFX, you will have both the safety you need and the Custom styling you deserve! Visit the website at For photos, logo, and more information, please contact Thomas Rapp at WheelchairFX.
Thomas Rapp