Pushchairs are an inevitable phase of every child and parents’ life. For the first three or so years, we spend a long time pushing them around until the time when finally the little one can move around well and far enough that they are not needed any more. This is fine for most, but what if your child has a chronic health condition or disability and require a little bit of help getting around?
There is a huge variety of mobility aids for adults and a good selection for children with severe disabilities, but there isn’t many products on the market that fills the gap inbetween pushchair and wheelchair.
The Eco-Buggy Stroller from Ottobock fills the gap. Think of it as a stroller for bigger kids or a pushed attendant wheelchair and with its ability to take up to 50kg, it can be used until about age 10. Ottobock is a well-known brand that manufactures high quality children’s wheelchairs and prosthetics and this is their light-weight collapsible transport option.
The chair is tough and simple. It has an adjustable back with one recline setting and an optional waist belt. The foot rest is height adjustable and can be swung out of the way to help the rider get in. The back wheels are fixed with separately lockable brakes and the front are switchable between fixed or swivelling.
Underneath is a small storage pouch large enough to hold a small bag or coat. When you don’t need it or for transport the chair folds down to a relatively small package with a built in velcro strap to stop it opening. In use the rider has a comfortable stable seat and as a driver I found it surprisingly manoeuvrable on many surfaces in any weather.
Price: £420 excluding VAT
Included in the box: Stroller with strap
Optional extras: Several accessories and variations are available. Typical prices for these are: simple padding added for £75, deluxe padding with sides for £212, 5 point belt for £54 (simple padding required), sun canopy for £64, buggy board for £106 and a car anchor kit for WAVs £54. Also available are a padded headrest, velcro foot straps and a carrier bag with shoulder strap.
Ottobock is a German prosthetics company created after the First World War. They are among the world leaders in prosthetic technology and are responsible for a large number of recent innovations. The company has over 4000 employees worldwide and has a revenue of around half a billion dollars a year. They were a major sponsor of the London 2012 Paralympics and run multiple programs helping victims of natural disaster and assault to access prosthetics.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The Eco-Buggy is accessible to people with diverse abilities. It is ideal for children age 3 – 10 who are unable to walk long distances and its lightweight design and maneuverability makes it easy to push.
It’s design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and circumstances. We have used in on the beach, in mud, on grass, in snow and on ice and it has come through well in every circumstance. It is stable and tough.
It is simple to set-up, use and maintain. The only issue we have had is with the folding – if the back is not entirely upright before you start to fold it it jams halfway through. Once aware of the issue, it is easy to fix, but isn’t clear and obvious unless you are aware.
The Eco-Buggy has no built in sun or weather protection, but there is an official optional sun cover and we found that third party generic shade like this one works well.
The basic model has a wide waist belt with a buckle clip that holds quite securely, but if required there is a five point harness available. Both the back wheels have independent brakes that lock the wheels completely and we have parked it on slopes with no issue or concern.
The Eco-Buggy has an ergonomic design from both the rider and drivers’ perspective. It can be used efficiently, comfortably and with surprisingly little exertion. It is possible to lock the front wheels pointing forward and then steer by lifting them but I found this more awkward than just letting the front wheels twist.
The driver needs a certain amount of strength and the ability to grip the two near vertical handles. It does need both handles to be pushed to maintain a straight line course and folding needs two separate catches to be unclipped at once as well. The handle bars are not height adjustable and adults much taller or shorter than an average female height will find it less ergonomic to push.
Environment & People
In-use: The Eco-Buggy makes walking longer distances more viable for families with children who are unable to manage longer walks and could encourage families to walk more and drive less, which is good for the environment and people. It is also easy to take on public transport.
Post-use: Multiple parts of the Eco-Buggy are changeable including the wheels, fabric and some of the frame. It retains its sale value well even after several years of use and can be sold or donated when no longer needed.
The Eco Buggy offers good value for money and its excellent engineering and design combined with its potential range of age – from around 4 to around 10 justifies the £400 odd price tag. It is towards the lower end of the cost of the market for mobility aids, however it is mid-range for a transport buggy for a child older than 3.
It is also potentially available via social services or the NHS Wheelchair services depending on your county and child’s condition.
Seat Depth: 30cm
Seat Height: 55cm
Seat Width: 35cm
Backrest angle: 90 to 110 degrees
Folded measurements: 30 x 40 x 12cm
Fabric colour: Blue
Frame colour: Black
Seat edge to footrest distance: 20 – 34 cm
The Eco-Buggy in its basic configuration is very simple and does not provide any lateral support or padding. There are several accessories which give more padding and support, but at its core the chair is only designed to provide a certain level of support.
As a parent looking for a stroller to help transport my 4-year old who still needs a pushchair, I look for three things. Something tough, simple, easy to drive. Ideally it should be collapsible and easy to put up and fold down.
The Eco-Buggy is all of this. It also has the additional advantage of looking like a stroller and not a wheelchair, which has helped my daughter feel more comfortable using it as she has gotten older.
We have been using ours for over a year and it has stood up perfectly to everything thrown at it and apart from a couple of scratches looks nearly brand new. The fact that it can be gotten via the NHS is a huge plus.
Our little one loves hers as it means she can ride during the boring bits and save her strength for the important things on a day out. Like feeding giraffes and goats. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the Ottobock Eco Buggy. First published on 8th September 2015.