BENNINGTON — Being able to live at home during an extended illness is not always possible due to the amount of assistance needed. A family from Brattleboro has changed that by creating "Wheel Pad L3C," a small bedroom and bathroom on wheels that attaches to a stationary home.
The 200-square-foot, eco-friendly attachable living space accommodates those in a time of rehabilitation, or who have mobility issues. The first prototype rolled in to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's (SVMC) Centers for Living and Rehabilitation (CLR) on Thursday as part of a six-stop tour across the state. The model was built by Norwich University students and will be given to a southern Vermont family before snowfall, according to Wheel Pad President Julie Lineberger.
The idea came about after Lineberger's friend, an award-winning sports cinematographer, Riley Poor, suffered from an extreme sports accident, leaving him to struggle with a form of paralysis and life in a wheelchair. Lineberger, her husband Joseph Cincotta and his brother Thomas Cincotta set forth to solve Poor's isolation issues. With Joseph Cincotta's architectural skills and his company LineSync Architecture, Poor was able to transform a home he bought into a universally-accessible personal space within three years.
"It's supposed to be temporary," Lineberger said. "In [Poor's] case, he didn't want to live with his mother for the rest of his life. The whole point is to keep families together in crisis. You can use it for whatever you think People have all kinds of ideas. It provides dignity and privacy."
The home permanently sits on wheels and is well insulated, equipped with a toilet, sink, shower and proper plumbing system, and electrical hookups similar to that of a recreational vehicle. It connects to a sliding glass door, regular door, or even the window of a home.
Lineberger said the pad's exterior is maintenance free, it's highly efficient and eco-friendly because those with spinal cord injuries can have chemical sensitivities. Wood used in making it is three quarters cherry harvested in Vermont.
Wheel Pad is 26 feet long by six to eight feet wide per Federal Highway limits. Its electricity comes from a 50 amp power source originating from the hook-up residence, with solar PV panels as an additional option. For plumbing, a 90 gallon septic tank is installed and should be serviced every eight weeks, according to the website.
Wheel Pad is now accepting applications from southern Vermont families, who will ultimately receive the prototype for a maximum of one and a half years until a permanent solution is decided on. Whoever is chosen must agree to be videotaped during the stay for promotional purposes, and they should provide feedback to help make the product better, Lineberger said. When the time is up, it will be refurbished and go to another family.
While this is the first of many, the layout can be customized to fit the buyer's need. The bathroom setup is equipped with a fold down desk, but the bed is not provided.
Wheel Pad LC3 was established in 2015 with the help of a business plan competition that Lineberger won.
"That gave me the seed money to keep going," she said, "and then I won a number of other competitions. The reason I want donations for it is because this one will go to a family in southern Vermont. In most areas it acts like a camper. Once you take it off the wheels and put it on foundation, then you need to get a building permit and deal with zoning issues."
On Thursday various employees and patients from SVMC and the CLR browsed the pad.
"One of the nice things about this kind of a unit is that we see a lot of young patients that come in who've had life changing events who want to go home quickly," said Suzanne Anair, CLR administrator. "So, this really hopefully will have a market and expose some of our patients who want to go home, who might otherwise have to stay with us until they can make accommodations at home."
For more information visit wheelpad.com.
Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.