Choosing A Wheelchair

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Your wheelchair should provide independence, be easy to operate and transport, comfortable and safe.

The reasons for needing to use a wheelchair are many. It could be due to a temporary disability or medical condition or some other handicap or more permanent disability. Whatever the reason, it will certainly involve loss of mobility to a larger or lesser degree.

With modern technology, wheelchairs are manufactured in a variety of styles and materials and at an affordable price. Because of wider availability, it is important that you carefully consider the features you require to choose the correct wheelchair for your needs.

Your personal requirements may differ markedly from those of other people with impaired mobility. Probably the most significant factor will be the degree of your dependence on your wheel chair to provide you with mobility. If you need a wheelchair to get around at all times, your choice may well be different to that of an occasional visiting relative, or friend at home.

If you have been prescribed a specific type or model by a health care professional (such as an Occupational Therapist) then all the necessary requirements should have already been discussed and considered with you. The main points for consideration (not necessarily in this order) should be size, manoeuvrability, weight, durability, and price, with comfort and safety also kept in mind.

Everybody fits within a certain size group.  Because wheelchairs are available with different seat widths you should find a size to suit you. It is critical that the seat be the right size, to ensure the proper comfort and support needed, especially if you have to spend long periods each day in your wheelchair.

The degree of well being your wheelchair can provide is dependent on it being the correct size. For the larger (and heavier) person, seat width is even more important. There can be nothing worse than being ‘scrunched up’ in a wheelchair, especially in a warm humid climate.

If you intend to use your wheelchair independently you will need a self propelling (large wheels) model which you push around yourself.  A smaller wheeled model, or transit wheelchair (smaller wheels) may be more appropriate if you have an attendant (carer) pushing your chair.

Wheelchair construction material needs to be considered. Steel tubing is arguably stronger than a similar diameter in aluminium, although it will be heavier. Some trade-off may be necessary to reach a satisfactory compromise between weight, durability and cost.

A heavy wheelchair will be harder to push, and may be difficult to put in and take out of a vehicle. Whilst aluminium wheelchairs are lighter than steel and they can be a little more expensive. Whether you choose steel or aluminium may be finally determined by how your wheelchair is handled; that is, by yourself or by a carer.  In either case, the difference in weight when pushing or transporting the wheelchair may compensate for any price difference.

For long term wheelchair users we recommend you look for a highly configurable chair, to obtain the best combination of features for optimum comfort and ease of transportation. The desirable level of comfort and manoeuvrability is likely of more importance than the cost.

In such instances a custom (prescribed) solution may be necessary. This often involves a rigid but lighter frame and wheels, with a specially built back, seat cushioning, and specifically  designed arm and foot rests.

Most wheelchairs are easily foldable, with the sides and handles being pushed together. If the back folds as well, this helps to further reduce the folded size. Both self propelled and transit models can have quick release wheels, and removable leg rests, which make for easier transportation. Rear wheels size and type, front castors and arm rests can be specified. It is desirable that your wheel chair have height adjustable rear wheels so they can be fitted for your best position. This means that each time you push, your wheelchair travels as far as possible. This is not quite as important for a wheelchair that will be pushed by your carer.

Removable armrests make transferring to and from the wheelchair so much easier. These can also be height adjustable to ensure the most comfortable and supportive position. Adjustable leg rests are common, and enhance user comfort. Anti tip wheels can be fitted to provide extra security when negotiating obstacles such as bumps and curbs.

If you live in a hilly or rough terrain locality you may wish to invest in a demountable electric motor that will turn your wheelchair into into a powerchair. Because the motor does most of the work, your carer needs less effort. The motor unit can be quickly and easily removed as required.

More information about Wheelchairs can be found here

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your needs in finding the right wheelchair to best suit your needs.

Copyright – Mobility Rentals & Sales 2016