Wheelchair Selection

Physical therapists equate buying a first wheelchair to buying a car. It can be just as complicated because there are so many different options, making it very confusing. Add to this the painful emotions that are often connected to getting a first wheelchair for some people. All this can make it an overwhelming experience.

There is much more to a wheelchair than it looks. Unfortunately, provided with a wheelchair that was ordered/purchased on their behalf, and a newly injured person has no idea as to what measurements and features are ideal for their specific situation. As a result, people are often given a chair that is not properly set for them from the beginning. There are some things to consider that should influence your decisions when buying your 1st wheelchair.

Wheelchair users vary in age, gender, body type, and reason for using a wheelchair, potential activities within the wheelchair, where the wheelchair will be used, and preferences. It is important to consider all these things, as well as the fact the user will be using this wheelchair for approximately 5 years, before moving on to the next chair.

The Wheelchair Evaluation Process

Some questions that should be considered before speaking to an evaluation team:

Where will the chair be used most?

At home? At school/office? Outside? Where the wheelchair is used determines the type and size of the tyres needed.

How will the user get the wheelchair and themselves from location to location?

Whether the user independently pushes themselves, or is pushed by someone else, will determine the type of tyres used as well, also the height and weight of the chair.

How much of the day will the person be in the wheelchair?

If the user will spend most or all of the day in the chair, it is very important to ensure they are as comfortable as possible, while still having the freedom to move as needed.

How will the user transfer from the wheelchair to other locations?

Whether the user is able to move in and out of the chair themselves will play a factor in the height of the chair and seat. The seat may need to be low enough to encourage independent getting in and out. Alternatively, it may need to be higher so a caregiver can lift the user easily.

Will a folding frame or rigid frame be required?
It is necessary to consider any transportation requirements for the chair and user. If the user will not need to remain in the chair all day, and plans to travel with the chair fairly often, it may be worth considering a folding wheelchair that can fit in the boot of a car. While foldable wheelchairs frames are more flexible, generally they are heavier than rigid frame wheelchairs. Rigid framed wheelchairs are better on hard surfaces. Another plus about rigid wheelchairs is that they come in various colours, whereas folding wheelchairs look like the types that are seen in hospitals. Another factor to consider is how independent the user will be. To collapse a folding wheelchair and place it in a vehicle, it is necessary to be standing. If the user is unable to stand, they will not be able to put their chair into the car without help. A rigid wheelchair can be quickly broken down by removing the wheels, and then put into the backseat.

These are just a few questions to consider starting things off. The variety of options and features available to wheelchair users can help ensure a good fit. Discuss any special considerations with Karma Mobility to avail the wheelchair that ably fits the need.

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