Just the right height: device gives older adults greater independence

Tracey McGillivray, Co-founder, Axtion Independence Mobility Inc.

In 2019, Tracey McGillivray, a retired tech executive, was looking for a mobility device to help her parents remain independent. But every product she found was too heavy or too limited in function—walkers, mostly, some with attached, cumbersome seats fixed in place and lifts that required assembly and weighed between 50 and 85 pounds. With an idea of what she wanted, she called Liam Maaskant, then a mechanical engineering student at her alma mater, Acadia University, to ask if he would help her invent it.

Liam Maaskant, Co-founder, Axtion Independence Mobility Inc.

McGillivray knew of Maaskant because she had been a varsity volleyball player at Acadia more than three decades earlier and was still heavily involved with the alumni association. He was a former business student who had changed his focus to building things, and an accomplished athlete who was captain of the Axemen, the university’s ice hockey team.

Maaskant agreed to help McGillivray, thinking it would be a “neat summer project.”

“It turned out to be so much more,” laughs the 29-year-old, whose hockey background has helped to make him the consummate team player, able to pivot and stickhandle problems as if they were a puck, always looking for another way through.

Four years later, their startup, the Nova Scotia-based Axtion Independence Mobility Inc., has introduced what they say is the final prototype of their “RAYMEX™ Lift,” a combination rollator walker and motorized seat that easily descends from a height of 24 inches to flush with the ground.

The result is a product that will help people with mobility problems not only walk with confidence, but also participate in everyday activities such as gardening, playing with the grandkids and even cooking.

“You can lower the seat to the level of a low kitchen cupboard, pull out a heavy cast-iron pan, put it on your lap and raise the seat again,” says McGillivray. “It sounds so simple, but it can be really life-changing.”

Maaskant adds that if you do fall, you can lower the seat, manoeuvre yourself onto it and get up again.

“Working on this has changed the direction of my life. I can’t wait for it to positively change the lives of those with mobility issues, too.”
Liam Maaskant, Co-founder, Axtion Independence Mobility Inc.



The  RAYMEX™ Lift, named after McGillivray’s late father, Ray, for whom it all began, , will be able to safely hold people of all weights and sizes. It will fold in half, not from front to back, which can be painful for people with joint issues, but from side to side.

Both McGillvray and Maaskant say they could not have accomplished the feat without advice from people such as Suling Duong, an occupational therapist and Dalhousie alumna, and Dalhousie University’s Emera ideaHUB, where one student team worked on the braking system and a second team worked on the seat.

The two also single out AGE-WELL for its encouragement and support. In 2022, Maaskant was given a $30,000 salary award when he received the AGE-WELL Emerging Entrepreneur Award. Axtion was also selected as a finalist in the National Impact Challenge 2023 – Bold Innovations for Living, and the 2022 AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge, but it had to withdraw from the latter competition because of a family emergency (Tracey was caring for her Mom at end-of-life).

The next step for the RAYMEX™ Lift is FDA registration and listing, which McGillivray and Maaskant expect soon. .

Health Canada, which can take a little longer to review products than its US counterpart, is expected to give Axtion the go-ahead in the near future, too.

Axtion expects the RAYMEX will be available for purchase in the second half of 2024.

“Working on this has changed the direction of my life,” says Maaskant. “I can’t wait for it to positively change the lives of those with mobility issues, too.”


Updated on March 18, 2024