Kirsten received her first rollator in 2007, when she had to do physio after a hip surgery. “For a while, things were going great and my hips were working as they should”. She therefore only used the rollator for physio purposes. As she put it herself “it wasn’t a rollator made for a stroll along the promenade”. Last year she underwent another surgery. This time it was her knee, and the surgery did not work in Kirsten’s favor. She now needed the rollator for more than just physio.
“At one time, I was with the day center on a trip to a farm. But all those of us with rollators couldn’t walk around because the ground was covered in pebbles, and the rollators couldn’t handle it”.
The rollator Kirsten had received from the municipality did not meet her requirements*. She loves to explore and meet new people, and her rollator wasn’t really up for these adventures. She needed something lighter, which did not cause pain in her hands on longer walks, and which would fit in her car.
“Fortunately, I can figure out what the world has to offer even though I’m 81 years old. So, I Googled and found my new rollator”
After a Google search, she found byACRE, called us, and paid us a visit. She quickly decided on the Carbon Ultralight in Strawberry Red. Because “Why not red? Let it be red so that it can be seen.” Kirsten calls her rollator “The Red Lightning” and has actually said that she enjoys walking with the rollator more than walking her dog. With her rollator she decides for herself when she wants to walk, but she gets the same attention as she would walking her dog.
“I feel worthy and enjoy being welcomed into stores in a different way. The other day, I was sitting in a restaurant when someone came up to me and asked where my rollator was from”.
Even though Kirsten loves her rollator, she still dreams of being able to walk without it. But right now the rollator gives her peace of mind knowing that she won’t lose her balance. “When you’ve experienced falling and hurting yourself seriously, you are not sorry about your rollator. I am so happy to have it. It gives me freedom instead of longing.”
Kirsten is only one of many byACRE users around the world, but her story is far from unique. For many people, aging often leads to a need for more support while walking, and like Kirsten, when you get to that age, you still want to keep up the life you’re used to. Aging does not entail a sudden stop in one’s need for adventure and social interaction. And it most certainly doesn’t entail a wish to be portrayed and treated any differently. Because “Age is the new black”.
*Note: In Denmark, citizens who need assistive aids after surgery, or whose functionality is permanently impaired as a consequence of a disability or chronic illness, are provided with an assistive aid: either from the hospital or the municipality.
In 2004, byACRE’s Berggreen founded a firm called Seed, which sold premium baby strollers and pushchairs that he designed. He recalls: “Years ago, I was asked, ‘Would you not like to design a rollator?’ (a wheeled walker) And I said, yes, you are absolutely right, I would not like to design a rollator. Because I thought it was so unsexy and, for me, boring. I really was not interested in doing that.
“But after I said ‘no’ to that, I started seeing rollators everywhere. They looked to me like something manufactured in East Germany in the 1950s and ’60s. They were just so boring.”
Then Berggreen got to thinking of the importance of applying design to help those who were challenged in their mobility, not necessarily just older people. He read a study about people who needed such devices, and how they were lacking. He realized that those users tended to feel sick and embarrassed and their level of social activity declined almost to nothing.
So, after selling Seed and then founding byACRE in 2015, he said: “We made a design brief for ourselves: Can we make a rollator that looks like furniture?” He pondered how to take some of the references of classic Scandinavian design and incorporate them into such a product. The firm’s first rollator earned a prestigious design award.
Another important element of the mindset, he stresses, is that byACRE does not view its product users as “patients,” but rather as “customers.” They might be challenged in their mobility, but that doesn’t mean you are a patient. “There’s a very, very big difference,” he says, “between talking to a patient and talking to a consumer.”
Berggreen sees no reason why assistive devices such as rollators can’t be functional and stylish.
Consumers have free choice. They make their own decisions about what they like and don’t like. So byACRE aimed to create a rollator that someone would like to walk with. It wasn’t something that the user just got from an insurance company or from the healthcare system.
Berggreen says the response to early models was positive. He received letters from family members of those using byACRE’s rollators saying that the user had resumed a social life again. It is no accident that byACRE’s very name was assembled from the words “active” and “rehabitare”—Latin for “back to life.”
All About Losing Weight
While gathering this user experience, the byACRE team learned that the weight of the product was important to those customers. But, he says, manufacturers paid little attention to product weight. Most rollators then were made in China, for European and U.S. companies, “and nobody really cared about designing for this target group.”
The firm next turned its attention to finding how to produce a stylish yet lightweight frame. That led them to explore carbon fiber and resulted in its latest product—the Carbon Ultralight. Berggreen outlines the labor‐intensive, low‐pressure manufacturing process that byACRE uses to make its products in‐house, via operations in China, Myanmar, Sweden and Denmark.
First, there is carbon cutting. In this process, small prepreg sheets of the Japanese‐sourced carbon fiber are cut out and combined. This resembles a form of knitting or weaving, where the strands are woven in different directions. He says byACRE uses its “own special recipe” for this process, to yield a strong, lightweight frame. “This is the heart and soul of the Carbon Ultralight walking experience.”
Once the sheets are cut and woven, they are layered to create the special “boomerang” shape of the rollator frame. “Our frames consist of around three large pieces that are combined in different directions to form the unique shape.” Inside these overlapping sheets they insert silicone bladders to help the frames keep their shape during the next step, which is the baking process.
The construction is then placed inside a custom‐made mold, which is heated to 180°C and baked. The bladders inside are inflated incrementally to keep pressure and ensure that the shape holds. Once out of oven, the frames are fitted with cuttings and drillings done by hand at the top of the frame where clips and the handlebar are attached.
Once done, the frame parts are sent for painting. They first must be sanded by hand before being coated with layers of byACRE’s Oyster White, Carbon Black or Strawberry Red color paint. The frames are finished with a clear coating and a good polish, and after a careful inspection are sent off to be assembled.
It’s obvious, Berggreen notes, there is a lot of work involved in creating a Carbon Ultralight rollator. “Making the carbon fiber frames is only a small part of the entire production process, but it is very much in this step that the DNA of the rollator lies.”
The Carbon Ultralight model sells for between $600 and $650 in the U.S., and weighs just 10.5 pounds. While initially skeptical as to whether the product would be well received in the U.S. beyond a few major cities, he says byACRE has already sold the model in 48 states, as well as across Europe, and in South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Next: A ‘Masculine’ Model
Now, the firm is developing a Carbon Overland model that was due to launch about the time of this publication. It will have a “very masculine” look and feature bigger, air‐filled wheels that can be used to navigate through sand, mud and other off‐road surfaces. byACRE developed this model and partnered with Land Rover, to co‐promote it in conjunction with the automaker’s recently relaunched Defender sport utility vehicle.
When it comes to marketing, Berggreen explains, the messaging is vitally important. It’s a huge step mentally to go from using a cane to using a rollator. His approach is that “it’s a means of transportation much more than it’s a mobility aid, and I think that’s why it works.”
He doubts, frankly, that such a product could have succeeded a decade ago. But the internet has made a huge difference in buying patterns. Instead of doctors or caregivers going to medical equipment stores to buy the cheapest, sturdiest walker or rollator, now the user herself can research the product from home.
“With the internet,” he says, “people Google it and find information about these products. We can see on our website that people come and go and come back and take time to read our design philosophy. It gives them confidence. That would have been impossible 10 years ago.”
Source: Plastic Engineering – Universal Design Targets Products for All Ages – January 2021
Dr. Gretchen Hawley is a Physical Therapist and MS Specialist from New York, USA. She has devoted her life to help people living with MS to take back control and feel strong when the MS shows its teeth. Dr. Gretchen is constantly updating and helping people who struggles with their mobility through her social platforms, with practical work-outs and research-based education.
Follow along when Dr. Gretchen unboxes byACRE’s rollator and learn form her tips and tricks and exercises.
Staying active is a mantra that both Dr. Gretchen and byACRE advocate. In the video below you can watch Dr. Gretchen unbox the Carbon Ultralight and demonstrate helpful exercises with the rollator.
How does our toughest rollator arrive?
Have a look when Dr. Gretchen unbox the Carbon Overland and shares her first impressions!
What makes an indoor rollator so special?
See Dr Gretchen’s first reaction to the differences in the design of our Scandinavian Butler!
Our rollator come in a quite unique, new design, with the handles turned in the opposite direction compared to traditional rollators. This changes the way you are supposed to hold the rollator, and how you set the handle height.
Physio therapists recommend that one measures the distance from the floor to the wrist to assess the best height for the handles.
In this video, Dr. Gretchen show us how that is done!
Our light weight and foldable rollators Carbon Ultralight and Carbon Overland are quite similar and might look alike, but have a few differences. Here, Dr Gretchen shows some of the major differences on the design.
Gretchen sat down with one of her MSing link members, who use our Carbon Ultralight rollator, and talked about life with a rollator. You can read the interview right here.
How does using a rollator make you feel?
More stable and confident.
When did it first occur to you that you needed a rollator?
I never considered a rollator before discovering byACRE, because others I had tried at physical therapy worked so poorly.
What feelings and thoughts did you have about it?
It looked easy to use, it looked light and super well designed… basically, everything I had been looking for in a rollator but had never found until I saw the Carbon Ultralight.
What reactions do you get from others when walking with a rollator?
Because I acquired mine recently, and during the pandemic, I haven’t been around many people while using it. When I have taken it to medical appointments, I like it that others are more patient with my slowness and have given me the appropriate space to maneuver.
What does it enable you to do that you couldn’t otherwise do?
Inside the house it has allowed me to stop wall-surfing. After the pandemic I am hoping it gives me more freedom to go out.
What criteria are important when choosing a rollator? Why?
Being ergonomically correct and enhancing your posture while improving your mobility; being light, and easy for others to move; being visually attractive, not an eyesore.
Dr. Gretchen wouldn’t be a specialist if she did not know how to cover each part of the daily life, and what struggles one might face. For example, she knows that putting a rollator in a car can be both challenging and nerve racking. Therefore, she has given us these steps to think about while doing it, with a video to show what it means practically!
To take the rollator OUT of the car, reverse the steps above!
As mentioned is Dr. Gretchen very active on her social media channels where she constantly updates with tips and tricks for a healthier MS-life style. Follow her accounts to take part!
– Angelika on how she feels about her Carbon Ultralight rollator.
“When I walk with this rollator, I feel confident. I walk with it upright and confidently. I can’t imagine anyone saying: “look at that poor old handicapped woman.” Not at all. I feel good about it. I don’t think of myself as poor, old and sick. I walk with confidence.”
“Lots of old people walk around with a rollator, but I’m still a little vain. That’s why I wanted a rollator that wasn’t like the others. Then I came across this rollator, which looked elegant. It’s chic. Doesn’t have all those cables sticking out. A great help for good walks.”
“With the help of this rollator I feel much safer… I have also improved my health. I can walk more and more and I become stronger as a result. I am not afraid of falling anymore. I can hold on tight. I can take breaks any time. The walks become longer and longer.”
– Janneke on how the Carbon Ultralight changed her life.
“It took me a long while to understand that the rollator really helped me out, and that is a good thing because now I have my freedom back. I can do the things I love because I’m not resistant anymore. I think the rollator has become a part of my life like riding my bike is.”
“People always have an idea about it. They don’t think twice before they yell something at you. Some people think I use it to get attention. But that is not true of course. They just don’t know and that’s something you have to accept. When I walk with this modern rollator I get less yelling. Most of the reactions I get now is about how good it looks and how fashionable it is.”
“On my bad days I try to think of everything I still can do. I am happy I can go out. Even when I’m not walking, I can sit and see the people I want to see and I can talk to them. I can tell my story and that gives me energy to go on.”
“It took me about two months to realize I really needed it and to make it my own choice. When I used it I could do much more things than without using it. I was able to go out with friends again. In a way you can say I became more active because I used the rollator. It just gives me a piece of freedom back.”
– Uli, when she saw the Carbon Ultralight Rollator for the first time
“When I walk with Bertha I often get addressed because of how wonderful she looks.”
“I am in a good mood when I walk with Bertha. She just “runs” in front of me and when I want to sit down I sit down. I no longer have to look for the next seating option when I am out walking. I have a lot of freedom and independence.”
“We have had Bertha with us to Zurich, Los Angeles and a lot of other places. At first we were worries about how she would handle the flight, but we had no reason to worry. She did not even arrive as “bulky luggage” but along with the normal luggage.”
“Why did I decide to name her Bertha and why do I call it “her”? Well, when I saw her it was clear that she is a woman. She’s pink! And I am also a woman. Why should I walk around with an ‘objective creature’? I had to make it my own and make it personal.”
Verna is an artist from Austin, Texas in USA. Her artistry started when she was 34, after she got diagnosed with MS:
“I have been painting since 1998. When I was 32 I had a life-altering experience. Through painting I have found a way to give completely of myself. It shows those I love, who I am, how I feel, and fully exposes my heart. This gives me peace.
I began painting at 34, I was drawn to colors, flowers, life…..I’ve been looking for answers as to why I have suddenly been given this gift. What can I do with it to make a difference?”
Today, her beautiful oil paintings of flower take her all over the country. .
“Travel has been very easy and enjoyable with my byACRE rollator. Pat (my rollator) has been my amazing assistant! So lightweight, agile, and able to travel anywhere. I get to be independent – I love it.
The last trip I did was to Orlando, when I was transporting oil paintings to a customer. Our future trips to Albuquerque, NM and Sedona, AZ will be similar. In January 2023, we are taking a trip to Maui, Hawaii. I have checked with my airline, and I will be able to use my rollator the entire walk to the entrance of the plane. At that point, I will quickly pack it in the travel bag and they will put it in the cargo storage for the flight. When we land in Maui, I will get it back from the cargo hull and I will unpack the rollator – then off I will go to a tropical paradise.
I’m so excited! Thanks to my byACRE rollator and Travel bag, I still have the freedom to travel the world.”
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been looking at past photographs and uttered;
“If only I had the rollator then!”
This was never more so than when being on vacation and standing literally on unfamiliar ground!
In one picture, I am at Central Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts, leaning against a sculpture trying to make it look like a natural pose – cane hidden behind me, when in fact my back was aching from trailing through the New England Aquarium, leaning on a walking stick for support.
Then in Providence, on a quest at whale watching, I sported a pair of bruised knees fresher than the whales I hoped to see, when I tripped. There were other vacations with similar limited mobility; on cruise ships, Cape Cod, New York, South Island NZ, Western AU, Bali, Sicily, Scotland etc. The walking stick was not adequate, and some opportunities were lost and maybe never to be regained – but now I am wiser with experience.
I still have to experience a long-haul flight with my rollator. However, we travel extensively throughout the U.K and I also have family in Malta whom I visit throughout the year. Therefore, I hope I can help dispense with some of your travelling concerns with the following tips.
According to my DNA story I am 22%, almost one-quarter Swedish. This heredity comes from my great-grandmother, Agnes Hildegard Helena Landerholm who was born on February 4, 1880, in Kimstad, Östergötland, Sweden. Agnes was three months old when she set sail with her father Anders (my great-great grandfather), her mother Thilda, and her older sister Emma, on the Marsdin headed to Hull, England, then on to Elllis Island, New York, landing 24 May 1880. Growing up in Connecticut, at 26 years old Agnes Hildegard Helena Landerholm married my great-grandfather, William Henry Jones, June 12, 1906.
One-hundred and forty-one years after Agnes’s arrival to New York, her great-grand daughter, Elizabeth Ann Jones is flying to Sweden for the fifth time.
The beginning of May, 2021, during a FaceTime chat with Anna-Lena and Liselotte, two of my long-time, Swedish friends, they tell me they are moving to a new home in Mölle. They invite me to stay and suggest that I fly to Copenhagen in Denmark, which is closer to Mölle. I enthusiastically purchase my Scandinavian Airlines tickets to and from Kastrup.
Now, my tickets are purchased. Next, how am I going to get to and from the airport? When I find the drive from Mölle to Kastrup is 90 minutes, I send an email to Maria, my contact at byACRE, to see if she would meet me for coffee (kaffe) near the dock, where the ferry comes in from Sweden. Maria emails back; when she told her colleagues I was flying in with the Carbon Ultralight and wanted to meet for kaffe, it was quickly decided she and Anders would pick me up at Kastrup with my new Carbon Overland. In the mean time I text Anna-Lena to let her know I will be having kaffe near the ferry so they don’t have to drive all the way to the airport. Anna-Lena replies they are coming in to Copenhagen the night before and staying at the Hotel Ottilia, in Carlsberg City. This is to make it easier to pick me up at Kastrup in the morning.
Everyone should have my worries; too many people picking me up at the airport in Copenhagen.
I arrive. I am first told to head to the back of the plane to exit. Then I’m told the front is where a wheel chair will be, then the back, again. Finally headed in the right direction, with the pilot now following behind, I see a large man with a yellow vest, a man called Oskar. Oskar takes my backpack and I take his arm as we descend the stairs. We walk across the tarmac and “taking my time”. We go up another flight of stairs to the airport, and into a wheelchair. Oskar pushes me to a golf cart, where I transfer, and then we are off to baggage claim. After a while I spot my checked bag. Oskar loads everything including my byACRE Carbon Ultralight onto the luggage cart. With one hand Oskar is pushing the wheelchair and with his other hand he pushes the cart.
Outside I hear a voice calling my name. I turn to meet Maria and my new ByACRE Carbon Overland. I stand and grab hold of my new Overland, then Maria. Together we cross the street to find and meet Anders Berggreen, the designer/founder of ByACRE. They explain to me they each brought their cars because Anders cars won’t fit my luggage and/or the two byACRE’s. So, I will ride with Anders and Maria will take all the luggage. It turns out Anders’ car is a Jag 1974 convertible and I’m imagining I’m Audrey Hepburn, wishing I had a Givanchy head scarf as we steer to the Hotel Ottilia, in Carlsberg City.
At Hotel Ottilia we make our way up to Tramonto Rooftop. We find a table on the terrace with a splendid, 360-degree view of the District below. We are surrounded by a small hop gardens, of course, and Anna-Lena and Lisa joins us. I’m absolutely over the moon to see two of my dearest friends of, is it, twenty-five years, who I have not seen in over two years.
Waking up in Mölle. The distant sound of boat engines, busy seagull trills, water lapping over stones, chimes of sail boat cleats tapping masts. Listening, reclined on the gray wood deck and sipping espresso, I’m surprised to see 5 or 6 surfers. Yes, there are waves, not Maui sized but good sized swells. The question is, do those surfers have those boards leaning in between their cross country skis and their dog sleds?
Surfs up, in Sweden!
Turns out Mölle is fifth in line for Sweden’s surfing hot-spots. Too bad, I left my surfboard in NYC. Instead, the girls have rented a golf cart. I’m happy to tour Mölle a la cart, with my Overland strapped on the back.
We end up at Ransvik Havsveranda for lunch. I board the outdoor escalator that descends the hill to the café with a beautiful view of the Sound. Lisa and Anna-Lena greet me at the bottom with the Overland and we find a table. We order Hernö Gin & Tonics and Kallrökt Lax på Rågbröd.
The next evening a stunning yacht sails across the horizon. It’s Anna-Lena’s brother, Mikael’s, Swan 77 Tugela. The next thing I know I make my way with my Carbon Overland down along the side of the house to the golf cart brought by Ivan, Anna-Lena and Lisa’s eldest. We head to the dock, where I am lifted on to an RIB that takes me to Tugela and I am carefully lifted and maneuvered on board. Once we are settled in the cabin, we sip champagne.
I am from Northern Ireland and I travel with my rollator every few months, but I use it daily when I walk my morning mile for exercise.
I love road trips. We travel by ferry and car often to see my son in Liverpool. I love that I can use my rollator when I’m stiff to get out for breaks, walk and stretch my legs on long journeys. I always use it when we’re out for dinner at restaurants and are out socialising. I’ve even used it at a family wedding, so that I could mingle without clinging on to my husband. It gives super independence, since I can keep up with my family without limits with it.
I have travelled to USA, Canada, UK, Ireland and Spain – honestly everywhere is so accessible nowadays so you can live without limits.
I’m never embarrassed to use my rollator, because my enthusiasm to live my life is greater than me feeling self conscious. Honestly people do not even notice, if they do, it’s always very positive comments. I’ve been told more than once on my daily walk that I’m an inspiration. I was so happy that I can encourage others.