Case Study

Alistair Johnston Staying cool during recovery with WheelAir


WheelAir User

Alistair Johnston

Name: Alistair Johnston
Age: 34
Condition: T4 Spinal Injury
Time since injury: 6 months
Tested the WheelAir: During his rehabilitation in Queen Elizabeth Spinal Unit in Glasgow

Alistair recently sustained a spinal cord injury and is now spending his time at the spinal unit working hard in Physio so he can move back home to his partner and children. We got to know Alistair through a close friend of our founder. Whilst we are typing this, we are happy to let you know that Alistair is at home for visit! So he is getting close to achieving his goal. We recently caught up with him about his current challenges with overheating and his experience with the WheelAir so far. This is what he had to say.


Alistair’s current challenges with overheating

I experience a number of problems since my injury with temperature regulation. My temperature regulation is already off because of my spinal cord injury but made worse because of the internal injuries I received.

During physiotherapy I get very sweaty and dehydrated. But these aren’t problems just in Physio…I constantly sweat in the spinal unit. I have often been literally dripping in sweat, especially at the beginning of my injury. Sweating is an issue because it is very uncomfortable, unhygienic and cause skin issues in the longer term.

It is very difficult to get the balance right between being too cold and too hot, especially at night.


Solutions before the wheelAIR

I used to sleep with windows open, but in the hospital this isn’t allowed because of the bacteria risk and the cold for other people. So now as an intermediate solution I have two fans on me constantly which the hospital isn’t too happy about because this can also spread bacteria. We also have a cooling room in the Spinal Unit where there are 30 fans, so I sometimes go there. My Occupational Therapists and Physios mainly recommend me to keep using fans to stay cool.


Since using the WheelAir, Alistair’s physiotherapy sessions feel a lot easier.



Alistair’s WheelAir Experience

Since I was first given the WheelAir, I have been using it constantly at the spinal unit. The cooling fan is certainly the function I find most useful. I tend to use it on the first or second fan speed throughout the day but when exercising I change it to the flat out fan speed for more intensive cooling.

I’m finding that in physiotherapy sessions my back is a lot comfier and I am sweating less. I am finding the sessions a lot easier now I have the WheelAir. I feel more thermally comfortable – I feel cooler all over my back and shoulders. Using the WheelAir means I can now sit up for longer, so it is certainly having a positive impact on my rehabilitation. It feels more comfortable and supportive than my current backrest.

If I could give any constructive feedback, I would say that it would be good to have a handier way to store the remote, perhaps a clip.


WheelAir fan box remote attached to a wheelchair with velcro square


A note from WheelAir

We currently provide a velcro square which you can stick wherever you like on your chair to store the remote. However, providing a clip as part of the WheelAir package is certainly something we will look into for future batches.