Buying a wheelchair is a bit tricky. Some even say it is quite similar to buying a car. To some people, it is a part of their daily lives as it helps them move from one point to another. Therefore, there could be specific requirements and features for improved comfort and convenience.
Gone are the days when wheelchairs where one size fits all. There are different types of this mobility device in the market today. Usually, they come with different shapes, designs, sizes, and features. Your choice often determines how comfortable you would be. A good wheelchair should provide comfort and help you go from place to place easily.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the things you should look out for as it concerns buying a wheelchair. However, before we proceed, it is important to state that you must understand your needs and medical condition before making a decision.
How will you use the wheelchair?
People use wheelchairs for different reasons. It may be for temporary, occasional, or permanent use. The decision of which wheelchair to buy will depend on how you plan to use it. You should be able to provide answers to the following questions.
- Where will the wheelchair be used the most, home or outside?
- Do you need the wheelchair as a support mechanism for a physical or medical condition?
- What terrain will the wheelchair be used on? Is it an outdoor, sidewalk, or ramp?
- What is the frequency of use of the wheelchair and how much time do you think you will spend on it?
- What is the mode of transporting the wheelchair, does it require folding?
Some wheelchair features to consider
When purchasing or renting a wheelchair, you should consider some features. They include:
Size and dimensions
You must consider size when choosing a wheelchair. You must look for a chair that fits you such that it isn’t too big or too small. If the wheelchair is too big, there is a chance that you would slip out of it. You must ensure you take the measurement of the width and height of the car. In making a decision on the size, you must factor in your age, height, and weight. It is important to know that some wheelchairs are specially made for children while some are designed for use by adults. Also, there are different shapes and designs of wheelchair and each chair has its maximum permissible weight. Do not assume, check the dimensions of the wheelchair and make sure it is what you want.
Mode of operation
There are two types of wheelchairs – the manual and electric wheelchair. Electric wheelchairs tend to be more powerful than the traditional manual type. An electric wheelchair makes sense in situations where the user has a specific health condition or limited mobility. If you will be using the wheelchair temporarily or sparingly, you may go for the manual option. It all depends on personal preference and financial capabilities. If you decide to buy a manually operated wheelchair, there are two options you can choose from – self-propelled and attendant-propelled model. The difference between the two is that the attendant-propelled wheelchair has a smaller rear and handle.
Tilt and back support
So many things determine the level of support you will need. They include size, mobility, health condition, and a few others. A good wheelchair will provide adequate support for your head and back and this should form a part of your consideration. If you need to switch positions frequently or need more support, a tilt in space wheelchair will do just that for you. That means you will be able to adjust the chair to meet your needs.
The wheel of the wheelchair must suit your mobility demands. A wheelchair that will be used outdoors must have a durable tire that wouldn’t degrade easily. In such an instance, a low maintenance tire is also perfect because they do not go flat easily.
Storage and Transportation
Do not make the mistake of overlooking the ease of transporting a wheelchair. You do not want to buy a wheelchair that will only be useful at home. The process of storing and transporting a wheelchair should be easy and simple. This means the dimension of the chair must be carefully scrutinized. Do not buy a wheelchair that is heavy so that it can be easily folded into your car. If the wheelchair does not meet you storage and transportation needs, do not pay for it.
Arm and foot rests
Arm and foot rests gives you additional support, flexibility and comfort. However, they must be sturdy so that they stay in place when you transition in and out of your wheelchair. There are different design patterns for arm and foot rests.