Perhaps you’ve been using a wheelchair for a while and it’s time for a new one. Or perhaps you are new to the wheelchair world. Either way, there are things to know and tips and tricks that will help you get the best type of wheelchair for your purposes.
What should you consider before you get a wheelchair?
How much time will be spent in the wheelchair?
There is a big difference between buying a wheel chair that will only be used for a few hours a day than one you may spend 18 hours a day sitting in. Considering how long and often during the day will the chair be used will help you to determine the best type of equipment to buy.
Where will it be used the most?
Different types of terrain, such as indoors on tile or outside on sidewalks will mean a different style of wheels than one that may be used outside on grass, in parks or in a fully carpeted home. Think of where the chair will be used the most and what kind of “ground” it needs to roll over.
How will you (or will you) transport it?
Is the chair needed for only inside the home? Or will it be taken outside for appointments or shopping? If it will be taken outside, who will be folding it or will it need to be folded? It’s wise to consider the primary vehicle that will be used for transportation. Are there storage or trunk space limitations? Measuring your transportation spaces will help you to understand what sizes of chairs are in the range of what you “fit” in the vehicle.
Depending on how much time per day or week the chair will be in use, you may need to consider where the chair will be stored when not in use. Is there a space in the home where you’re planning on storing the chair? Will it need to fold down for storage time, so that it doesn’t block walkways in the home?
Are there medical concerns the wheelchair will support?
Does the wheelchair need to support a specific physical condition, such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, amputation, or Spina Bifida? There are a number if conditions that may require a certain type of chair. Getting guidance from the family physician will help determine need.
3 Essentials to know before you buy
Most people know that chairs come in different sizes. But there are modes available also. Once the type of usage has been determined, you’ll be able to tell if you need:
- Folding / Short trem
- Transport only
- Sports (ultra light and low backrest)
Since they have different uses, answering the questions in the above section will help you know what type you’ll want.
Size matters, especially when it comes to wheelchairs. You not only need to consider the size of the person using the equipment, but you’ll also want to take into account the weight of the chair, especially for one that will be transported or stored often.
Be sure to measure all possible things that would be affected. Width needed, size when folded up or in “storing” position, doorways, and storage/transportation areas, such as the car trunk.
Necessity and comfort features
Determining the usage type and time to be spent in the chair will also help guide you to consider the importance of things like arm rests and foot rests. Do they need to be accessible, padded or otherwise changeable?
If much time will be spent in the wheelchair, consider comfort features as well. Should the seat be padded with extra padding, whether built-in or external?
Getting a new wheelchair is as important of a decision and investment as buying a car, maybe more so Comfort, durability, transportability and other requirements should all be thought of prior to making the purchase.
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact us or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
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