Alf Todd is an avid cyclist, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2007.
“Cycling is one of the best things you can do for Parkinson’s,” says Alf. “There’s many a day when I can barely walk, but I can always get on my bike and go for a 20, 30-kilometer ride with no problem at all.”
There are also days when Alf’s Parkinson’s overwhelms him, and he must use a wheelchair. And because of his passion, Alf longed for, and envisioned, a pedal-powered chair.
And so Alf and lifelong family friend Jeff Lewis, who has a career in design and marketing, have invented one.
“He kinda cornered me and said ‘hey, I’ve got this idea…’ ” says Jeff with a warm smile.
“He presented the idea, and I thought, ‘yeah, I can make Alf this chair.’ But as we got going we realized, this is so much more than just a chair for someone with Parkinson’s. This is a chair for people that have knee replacements, hip replacements, stroke victims. It’s really for any people that don’t have mobility, that want to start getting mobility, and fitness, back.”
“We call it the AJ Pedaler,” says Alf. “It’s for Alf and Jeff. I can power it by myself. And it’s got a tremendous, tight, turning radius. You pedal forwards, and pedal backwards, just like you would a tricycle.”
“The idea itself isn’t new,” says Jeff, “to have a wheelchair that you can pedal, but we think that we’ve improved upon it in quite a special way. [For example,] as you pull one lever back, the other arm goes forward, so for a stroke victim, it works both sides of their legs and their arms, which is really important, because it gets their mobility back and stops those muscles from atrophying.”
“So often people get put into an electric scooter right away, and then they don’t get any exercise,” Alf points out.
The men hope to spread the word about the AJ Pedaler to see if others with mobility challenges would be interested in the unique pedal-powered wheelchair.
“Whatever I can do to make somebody else’s life easier, is my goal in life,” says Alf.