Powering through life with a LEVO C3

4 minute(s) to read

Having suffered a severe spinal cord injury as a teenager, Lee Taniwha is continuing to help others adjust to their own life-changing circumstances while showing people what’s possible to achieve in a wheelchair.

The 30 year-old has recently launched his own caregiving agency, called Care Upfront, dedicated to serving those with brain injuries and the spinal cord impaired (SCI) community.

He now employs 50 caregivers, providing 24/7 care for 13 individuals who have recently left hospital or Auckland’s Spinal Rehabilitation Unit in Ōtara.

“We provide 24 hour care so that involves showering, toileting, cooking food, getting them from A to B, that sort of thing,” Lee explains. “Other agencies are very broad and just cover the basics in their training. We try to include different things. There’s a lot of stuff with regard to bowel and bladder care. A lot of SCI people use catheters and troubleshooting them is not simple. My aim is to make sure that our service is very specific to a subset of the market which I fully understand.”

Lee has been actively involved as a peer supporter for Spinal Support NZ for many years. “My role is to speak with all the patients that come through and help them through their journey, answering their questions so they can have an idea of what’s to be expected.”

What he enjoys most about his peer support role is just being useful. “It’s a huge privilege to be in a space where people are vulnerable and they accept you.  It’s really nice to be let into those spaces and be able to serve. It’s not an opportunity a lot of people get. It’s a huge privilege. No two people ask the same questions or prioritise the same things. So the role is really broad ranging.”

In his personal life, Lee has achieved a great many things and uses a LEVO C3 powered standing wheelchair from Cubro to get around Auckland using public transport.

“This chair is great because the front wheels don’t touch the ground. They’re connected to the center wheel which drives the wheelchair. If I can’t make it up something, the front wheels will gain traction and pull the chair up with it. So it’s much easier to go up things like curbs with this wheelchair compared to any of my other wheelchairs.”

Lee says the stability and balance of the LEVO C3 is also far superior to other wheelchairs which are often front-heavy. “When you’re going downhill it can be dangerous but I don’t have any concerns about doing that in this chair.”

Throughout the day, Lee has the ability to stand upright in his chair whenever he wishes – something that’s particularly useful when working at his computer or lifting weights in his home gym.

“With the standing chair you can change the angle of your hip which was game-changing for me because I was starting to develop kyphosis in my back which makes me hunched. So with the ability to be upright more, I dodged having to get surgery. My surgeon told me I was probably going to need some rods down my back. I thought ‘I’m not getting that’ and having a chair like this has really saved my back.”

Lee now suffers less lower back pain as a result and is so thrilled with the LEVO C3 that he has a new one on order. “I’d say these chairs are good for everyone. If you’re looking for a good chair that can give you great balance, this is the best one I’ve found.”

Cubro now supply LEVO powered wheelchairs. If you'd like to know more about this range then please contact our team on 0800 656 527 or email [email protected].

Cubro case studies are based on actual testimonials provided by real customers and users of our solutions.  In some testimonials to protect the identity of the users, we have changed a name and used a stock photo. Our case studies describe our past work with customers and users, and detail solutions that have improved their quality of life. As each individual user has a unique set of needs and requirements, the content in these case studies should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from a registered clinician.