Knowing Your Wheechair
Buying a wheelchair if you are disabled or have a health condition that affects your walking can vastly improve one’s quality of life. Choosing the right wheelchair can enable you to socialize and go out with friends and family. It also helps in improving your daily living and makes it easier for you to carry on doing the things that you’re used to doing.
Wheelchairs can broadly be categorized as manual wheelchairs (driven by the user's own strength) and powered or electric wheelchairs.
Manual wheelchairs are more suited to those who require a wheelchair for mobility all or most of the time, indoors and outdoors. And for those who can walk, with a walker or a stick, but are unable to cope with longer distances.
One needs significant strength and movement in their arms in order to use a self-propelled wheelchair. If that is not the case with you, then it might be better to go for an attendant-propelled wheelchair. However, most self-propelled wheelchairs have push-handles for times when extra help may be required.
These wheelchairs have large back wheels, with an outer ‘push-rim’ to help you turn, control and propel the chair. These wheels lead to a bulky chair, making it less easy to pack into the trunk of a car. So, look for a self-propelled chair with quick-release wheels.
These wheelchairs have smaller back wheels, and so they are lighter and easier to transport. They are also simpler to navigate and control for the person pushing, although they can prove a bit more difficult to maneuver around obstacles like curbs as opposed to larger-wheeled chairs.
Electric Or Powered Wheelchairs
Power or electric-assisted wheelchairs are ideal for those who don’t have the strength or stamina to use a self-propelled wheelchair and don’t want to rely on someone else for their mobility. Powered wheelchairs are generally a lot heavier than manual wheelchairs as their frame has to be stronger in order to sustain the battery and the motors.
Power wheelchairs come in a wide variety of models and can be divided into the three categories given below:
These electric wheelchairs are meant for home usage or places with smooth and even flooring. They are generally pretty easy to fold and fit into the trunk of a car.
The outdoor power chairs will have larger wheels to deal with uneven terrain, and suspension to make the drive more comfortable. These can be used indoors as well. However, their larger size may lead to them not fitting through some doorways.
These power chairs are designed to offer the best of both worlds. Though they might not be as light and compact as some of the indoor models.
Customisation, Adjustments, And Accessories
Wheelchair manufacturers tend to be flexible when it comes to customizing their products. Some of the things you can often choose or adjust include:
Seats: Available in different lengths and widths or a firmer seat can be custom built. Support and cushioning can be added to give more trunk support.
Footplates and Armrests: Most wheelchairs have adjustable footplates and armrests to help you find a comfortable seating position.
Headrest: May be bought as an optional extra.
Storage Bags: There are a quite a few different styles available for use with wheelchairs. However, they aren’t very suitable for carrying large amounts of shopping.
Protection Against The Cold Or Rain: A range of wheelchair-specific items such as waterproofs in various styles are available. You can also get leg warmers that cover the lower half of the body like a small sleeping bag.