Mealtime Partners, Inc.

Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

January 2016 Independent Eating and Drinking Newsletter

Independent Eating...   is a Wonderful Thing

January Topics:

  • The Front Mounted Drinking System for UniTrack

  • The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack

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2016 Product Catalog

The first order of business for this Newsletter is to let our readers know that Mealtime Partners 2016 product catalog is now available online. To download the new catalog (in Adobe "pdf" format), go to our catalog web page and click on "2016 Product Catalog" (below the picture of the catalog front cover). Within the catalog are links to more detailed information about the various products. Simply click on the part numbers/names at the bottom of each page for the product you are interested in and you will be linked to the specific product page on our website. If you would like to discuss any of the products with our staff please call us at: 800-996-8607 or email us at

New Products Meeting Changing Needs

For many years the foundation of our hands-free drinking systems has been the method in which they are attached to a wheelchair or bed. All of the earlier version of our drinking systems use the Mealtime Partners Wheelchair Clamp. This clamp not only holds the drinking system, but can be clamped to manual or powered wheelchairs (or hospital beds with metal bed rails). However, this clamp requires handles, rails, etc., to allow it to be attached. Wheelchairs are constantly evolving. Today, many new innovations have improved complex power wheelchairs. Newer Permobil wheelchairs, for example, no longer have the tubular frame as the basic structure of their powered wheelchairs. Instead they have molded modules for the wheelbase, seat and back of the chair. Additionally, they use an open arm-rest design that allows the arm-rests to be raised and lowered to permit the user ease of access and exit from the chair. Because the arm-rests lift, they do not have a front support column.

We have many customers who now have Permobil wheelchairs and they were no longer able to mount our earlier drinking systems. Fortunately, most Permobil wheelchairs are constructed with their UniTrack rail system as an integral part of the wheelchair. This allows accessories to easily be mounted to the wheelchair. To accommodate our customers who use these wheelchairs, Mealtime Partners designed a variety of clamps that will attach to the UniTrack rails, thus replacing the Mealtime Partners Wheelchair Clamp (described above) in our original Drinking Systems and Mounting Products for those users who need the UniTrack mounting. (Of course, the Drinking Systems and Mounting Products with the original Wheelchair Clamp are all still available.)

UniTrack is a dual-slot rail that is used for mounting parts and accessories at several locations on many Permobil powered wheelchairs. Common locations include the sides of the seat base (as shown below), under the arm rests and on the wheelchair back. Some of the UniTrack rails have end pieces that fit into the ends of the rails to provide a smooth end to the rails. The end pieces can be removed by pulling them out for installing accessories. They do not require tools to be removed.

Wheelchair with UniTrack
UniTrack Rails Mounted on the Sides of the Seat Base, under Arm Rests, and under the Headrest

Mealtime Partners has two drinking products that are now available for mounting on UniTrack rails: The Front Mounted Drinking System for UniTrack, and The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack.

The Front Mounted Drinking Systems for UniTrack

The Front Mounted Drinking System for UniTrack was developed by Mealtime Partners to provide access to fluids for our customers who have a very limited range of head and trunk movement, and who have weak suction. The system consists of a heavy-duty flex arm that on one end has a Flex Arm Attachment Holder with Knobs for UniTrack (shown below) for attaching to the slot in the UniTrack rail, and a cup holder on the other end.

UniTrack Flex Arm Holder Unitrack Flex Arm Holder with Knobs Installation
Flex Arm Holder with Knobs for UniTrack Installation in UniTrack Rail-Slot

The drinking system is mounted on the UniTrack rails of a wheelchair using the Flex Arm Attachment Holder with Knobs for UniTrack (MtP Part No. 4971) that is part of the drinking system (shown above). The Flex Arm is bent to position the cup holder, and the cup it contains, close enough to the user’s mouth that they can easily access the straw. Once bent, the Flex Arm shaft is very rigid and holds its position well. The Front Mounted Drinking System is available with Flex Arms of different lengths. Flex Arms come in 6-inch, 12-inch, 18-inch, 24-inch and 30-inch lengths, to accommodate different user heights and seating systems. To select the most appropriate length Flex Arm for each individual, first choose on which of the wheelchair UniTrack rails the drinking system will be mounted and where along the UniTrack rail it will be clamped. Next, decide where the drinking cup should be placed to accommodate the individual’s drinking needs (head and neck positioning). Measure the distance between where the Flex Arm Attachment Holder will be located and the cup position. Add 3 inches to this distance, to accommodate the bend in the Flex Arm to orient the cup correctly, and select the Flex Arm length that is closest (but longer) to that length. Any additional length can be absorbed by bending the Flex Arm more.

Because many wheelchairs have UniTrack rails in various locations on them, including under the arm rests, at the sides of the seat base, and on the back of the wheelchair, the Front Mounted Drinking System can be mounted in many locations on the wheelchair. The following pictures illustrate mounting the drinking system at two different locations on a wheelchair.

Front Mounted Drinking System Front Mounted Drinking System
Front Mounted Drinking System for UniTrack
mounted on UniTrack rail below seat
Front Mounted Drinking System for UniTrack
mounted on UniTrack rail below headrest


Adaptive Switch Mounting Systems
Micro Light Switch used for Head Control
Mealtime Partners Flex Arm Mounting Systems allow Adaptive Switches or user provided electronic devices to be perfectly positioned!

Once the system is attached to the wheelchair, the Flex Arm can be bent to position the switch close to the user's head, hand, knee, foot, etc. Fine tuning of the position is achieved using the ball-and-socket end of the mount. No loosening and repositioning is necessary when adjustments are needed. Simply bend the Flex Arm to the new position.

These mounts can be attached to manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs with rails or handles, and are available for wheelchairs with UniTrack. They are offered in 5 Flex Arm lengths: 6-inches, 12-inches, 18-inches, 24-inches and 30-inches. For more information about these mounting systems, or to purchase one, click one of the following links: MtP Mounting Products, or MtP Mounting Products for UniTrack.

The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack

The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack is intended for individuals who use Permobil wheelchairs that have UniTrack mounting rails. It specifically mounts to the unique rails on this type of wheelchair. It is not appropriate for use on any other type of wheelchair. (Our original product, the Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning, is appropriate for many other varieties of wheelchairs, metal bed rails, etc.)

The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning consists of: a canvas backpack; a bladder that is fitted with a drinking tube and bite-valve at the end of the tube (i.e., the mouth piece); an Attachment Holder; and a 24-inch length of flex-tube that holds the drinking tube in position. It is mounted to the wheelchair using an Attachment Holder for UniTrack (shown below). It should be installed on the UniTrack that is on the back of the wheelchair near the headrest. It can be mounted to the left or right side of the user depending on which side they want the drinking tube.

Attachment Holder (Part 4973)
Attachment Holder for UniTrack (MtP Part No. 4973)

The bladder is located inside the backpack and the tubing from the bladder is inserted first through a guide loop in the top of the backpack, and then through the flex-tube. The bite-valve is attached to the end of the drinking tube. It holds 70 oz. of liquid to provide long periods of access to hydration without refilling. The backpack has a strap at the top allowing it to hang on the Attachment Holder or another part of the wheelchair (like the headrest). The Attachment Holder attaches to the wheelchair and holds the flex-tube and drinking-tube in a fixed position so that the end of the drinking-tube (with the bite valve) can be positioned near the mouth of the user in a location comfortable for them to access the liquid. The backpack hangs freely if the wheelchair is reclined.

The drinking tube is contained within a flexible conduit, or, as we refer to it, a flex-tube. The flex-tube is attached to the UniTrack rail by the Attachment Holder. Once the flex-tube is shaped, it will hold its position until it is further adjusted.

Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack
Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for UniTrack (MtP Part No. 6557)

These drinking systems expand the variety of wheelchairs on which our products can be mounted. To purchase, or for more information about any, or all, of the Mealtime Partners drinking products, click here.

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