Like many wheelchair users, Anthony Amorello is frustrated by the trend of hotels having higher and higher mattresses. He remembers better days, back when he was injured 44 years ago, where hotel beds with fancy mattresses didn’t tower over him and his wheelchair. As a C5-6 quad who uses a sliding board to transfer, the higher mattresses make getting into and out of bed nearly impossible.
His frustration came to a head in 2010 when he visited Hawaii with his wife and kids and stayed in a luxury resort that cost over $400 per night. “The beds were on a platform in addition to their 28-inch mattresses,” he says. It was impossible to make the transfer from his manual chair. In the end, Amorello and his wife slept on rollaway beds for two weeks, while their kids shared the king-size hotel bed. “That’s when I realized I’ve got to change this.”
He called the Department of Justice and asked if they could do anything related to the Americans with Disabilities Act. They said no. “You’ve got all these things [such as sinks and doorways and showers] that are covered under the ADA,” he says, “but hotel furniture is not.” Calls to the American Hotel & Lodging Association weren’t helpful either, as officials recommended that hotels remove bed frames and box springs. But as Amorello knew first-hand, that doesn’t guarantee a good height — and because new mattresses are so soft, he’d just sink into them and have a hard time transferring out.
Finally, Amorello took things into his own hands by designing a brand-new lift that brings wheelchairs up to bed height. “My brain is an adapting brain,” he says. “I came up with this design that will solve everybody’s problem.” The product, called the Portable Hotel Room Accessible Mattress Equalizer (PHRAME), is a storable electric lift that can be rolled next to a hotel bed, raising a wheelchair-sized platform 13 inches so a guest can easily transfer to and from the bed. It weighs around 110 pounds, has four wheels and is about the same size as a rollaway cot, like those the Amorellos had to sleep on since the bed in their expensive hotel room wasn’t accessible.
“If you take it to a hotel room, put it next to the bed — boom, the bed becomes accessible. You just back your wheelchair onto the platform,” says Amorello, and an easy-to-use remote controls the electric lift. It can be set a little higher than the mattress for transfers into bed, and a little lower to get back into a chair. Amorello wants to market the PHRAME directly to hotels when it goes into full production. The size is a great selling point: it can be put in storage just like an extra cot and easily pulled out for any customer who uses a wheelchair. There is no standard for hotel bed heights, but the PHRAME’s vertical lift means it can work with virtually any chair and bed, meeting every customer’s needs no matter the hotel.
The PHRAME is in prototype stages and Amorello is refining it. A patent is pending. He is encouraged by great feedback from social media, online forums, and responses to a YouTube video put up online. Some people have even thought of using it for other purposes, such as working on truck engines or transferring to snowmobiles. In the end, though, Amorello’s goal is clear: with the PHRAME in hotels, “people can travel and feel confident that they’ll get to a hotel and won’t have to sleep in their chair.” It will enable travel for business, vacation and more — and the ability for wheelchair-users to be independent no matter where they go. Find out more at bedphramelift.com.