Meet the Man Behind the IntimateRider
People with physical challenges all over the world are benefiting from the problem-solving dexterity of another disabled man from Minnesota, who wanted to turn his personal tragedy into something positive.
Alan Tholkes became a quadriplegic in 1976, when he was just 17 years old. A car accident confined him to a wheel chair and affected mobility in all four limbs. “Sex wasn’t impossible. I had sensations in all the critical areas, but my motor function was lacking. Certain positions just weren’t possible. You could get creative but generally the physical stamina wasn’t there,” says the designer of ergonomic office furniture and supplies.
Prior to getting married, he wanted to do something to give himself and wife-to-be more options. He came up with the prototype for the IntimateRider, a perpetual motion compact gliding chair that facilitates easier lovemaking for people, like himself, with limited upper body movement.
“It provides easy motion, rocking back and forth at the right height and position. It basically puts all your parts together in the right places, making the thrusting motion really easy. You can go for hours,” says Tholkes, who admits the R&D work with his wife was lots of fun. “I’d say ‘Honey, it’s time to go to work.’ We had a great time.” The product hit the market last year and so far response has been positive, especially among groups of individuals with serious arthritis, back pain and partial-paralysis. “If you’re a 17-year-old male, sex is on your mind a lot. It’s an important part of your life at that point, but when you’re injured and confined to a wheel chair, your focus is on rehabilitation, taking care of yourself, learning to dress and feed yourself again. The subject of sex just didn’t come up for a long time,” says Tholkes, noting in the U.S. there are between eight and 11 thousand spinal cord injuries every year. Most of them involve 18-to-25-year-old males in their prime risk-taking years.
Tholkes says his sex life has improved exponentially. “Woo-hoo! It’s fantastic. It’s been such a long time, over 30 years, since I’ve been able to experience some positions. Now sex is easier and more adventuresome and fun,” he says.
Now he can sit back and enjoy the ride.