Choosing The Right Wheelchair to Meet Your Mobility Needs
With so many mobility wheelchairs on offer, it may be easy to get distracted from choosing the right wheelchair to meet your needs.
So, we’ve put together 5 Buying Tips and Recommendations to guide you in your search.
The First – and Most Important Factor – is to Determine your Strength and Abilities. Do you have arms and legs at all? Have you had to have one or the other amputated at some point due to a medical condition? If you do have arms and / or legs, Can you move them at all? How easy is it for you to do this?
These questions will help to determine if you will be operating your wheelchair by yourself. Or if you will need help operating it.
If you do have arms that are strong enough to push you around in your wheelchair, then what you most likely need is a manual wheelchair. On the other hand, if you can move your hands but will tire easily pushing yourself around, an electric / power wheelchair will better serve you.
The Second Factor is to Define What You Hope to Achieve Using Your Wheelchair. Will you want the wheelchair for short distance, indoor use? i.e within your home – moving from room to room? Then you might want to consider a manual wheelchair. Will you push it yourself? – get a self propelled, manual one. Or will you need help from a carer / friend? An attendant propelled, manual wheelchair is best for this.
Are you the active type? Do you plan to go for outdoor trips? Trips or camping on rough grounds need a heavy duty, electronic / power wheelchair. These wheelchairs have an extremely strong body, and tyres which can cope with the roughest terrain.
Will you need to transport your disability wheelchair – in your car, van or use a bus / train – when travelling long distances? You might want to consider a folding wheelchair option. Manual and Powered Wheelchairs all have foldable options.
Third, Your Medical Condition. Certain medical conditions make it impossible to self-operate a wheelchair. Such conditions may include Epilepsy, Dementia… For an epileptic sufferer, the unpredictability of the attacks make it unsafe to operate a wheelchair. Dementia causes patients to become largely unaware of their surroundings. For such people – even though they may have strong arms – an attendant propelled wheelchair, pushed by another well capable person is the solution.
The Fourth Point to Note is Your Comfort and Safety. How often will you be sitting in this wheelchair? For how long? You have enough to worry about in the course of the day. The last thing you want to do, is add discomfort to the list.
Since you most likely will be spending a considerable amount of time in your wheelchair, your comfort and safety is key. Check that you have the right size. Seat measurement – width, height, depth, back height – and weight capacity are the usual standards of wheelchair measurement.
And probably an easily adjustable one too. You may put on weight in the coming years. You need a wheelchair that will accommodate that – especially for the really expensive models. Then how easy is it to adjust your position? This is really important in preventing pressure sores – a common problem with wheelchair bound users.
What safety features – brakes and anti-tipping devices, e.t.c – are included?
A good practice is to invest in additional wheelchair accessories – cushion, clothing, e.t.c. This customizes and enhances your comfort and use of the wheelchair.
Lastly, the Fifth Key Point is Your Environmental Layout. You should consider here the design of your home, office or where you will be using the wheelchair most in.
How easy is it to maneuver there? Do you have enough space? How about the ease of storage? Passage through doors? E.t.c?
Taking these into consideration will help you get the most from your wheelchair. You may want / need to modify and re-design your living / work space to make this possible.
Of course, you will need to consult with a physician or therapist to assess your needs first. To figure out the features and options that are best suited for you.
Whatever option you choose, there is always one to fit your budget. You know what they say – Where there is a will, there is always a way!
There are other questions you may want to consider in choosing your ideal wheelchair to meet your mobility, comfort and independence need. These basic ones are most important to consider and will get you well on your way.