Guide On How And Where To Buy The Best Wheelchair

By Jesse Veluz | Last Updated June 28, 2016

With the technological advancements, we now have a wider category of wheelchairs to choose from, the standard size that fits for all is no longer available in the market. Thus, the buyer needs to consider the basic things before getting one.

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A wheelchair for a person with disability is of great significance. It allows people with disabilities to move more freely and independently. It could also help them in recovering or preventing further damage in their body. However choosing the right wheelchair could be difficult.

Here are the things to consider:

1. Consider the Size

Is it right for you? Are you comfortable moving around it? Can you lean on the backrest without difficulty? Can your feet reach the footrest? If it is, then you got the right size. It is significant for the user’s own comfort in maneuvering it. 1

Here is way to measure a wheelchair:

Can your feet reach the footrest? If no, then you did not get the right size

2. Weight Capacity Does Matter

Not all wheelchairs have the same weight capacity so it is important that you know the user’s weight and the weight capacity of the wheelchair you are getting. For example, there are wheelchairs that could only support up to 250 lbs and there are also wheelchairs that could support up to 550 lbs. 2, 3

3. Your Health Condition

This is an important thing to consider. You might have to consult an expert in this area or the one who knows your health condition best. It could be either be your doctor or rehabilitation professionals (Physiatrist/Occupational or Physical Therapist/Qualified Wheelchair Supplier).

Choosing wheelchair based on health condition is very important. You have to consult with the doctor, physical therapist, or qualified wheelchair supplie

There are different kinds of wheelchairs that would suit best depending on your health condition. For example with the types of manual wheelchairs, a reclining manual wheelchair is best used for people with severe hip extension contractures. 4

4. Types of Cushion

It may not be all that but this is also important to consider. Remember you’d be sitting on this for a while so you have to know the best cushion that will suit your needs.

Apparently nowadays there are different types of cushions available in the market. Here are the three types:

  • Foam Cushion. The foam cushion provides even support despite the ability to adapt to any shape.
  • Gel Cushion. The gel cushion provides an excellent pressure distribution making the user of the product comfortable.
  • Air Cushion (Alternating Pressure). The air cushion is designed to provide relief despite sitting for a long period of time. 5

5. Function of the Wheelchair

Remember the fact that this device will help with the mobility issue of the user. You have to take into consideration the user’s health condition and his or her day-to-day activities. Its use is to enable the user to live life as normal as it could be. 6

Wheelchair specially built on rough road conditions

Wheelchair specially built for mobility on the beach

6. Transportability

Will you be travelling often? If you are, you need to consider the weight of the wheelchair. Is it easy to fold? Don’t get a heavy wheelchair that is hard to transfer if you need to travel often for your own convenience. 7

7. The User’s Age

Old age people may not have the same strength and energy as the young ones thus it is important to consider whether he or she has the ability to use either a manual or a heavy duty power wheelchair. There are also wheelchairs now that are made especially for children. 8

8. Your budget

Lastly is the price. It is important to consider your budget for this. The price of wheelchairs range depending on its type, function, and brand.

If you have the budget, it is a good option to get a heavy duty power wheelchair for the functions it offer. However, if you are tight on your budget, you could always opt for the manual wheelchair.

9. Aesthetics

The optional and last thing to consider in buying a wheelchair is its physical appearance. This is not at all important unless the buyer would like his or her wheelchair to have a personal tone to it. Some prefer electric wheelchairs and scooters for their appearance. 9, 10

What are the Advantages of Getting a Heavy Duty Power Wheelchair?

A power wheelchair or electric wheelchair is propelled through an electric motor. Power wheelchairs could be considered a user-friendly device compared to the normal manual wheelchairs.

Here are some reasons as why it is considered as user-friendly:

1. Easy to Control

Through the access device or drive control, the user could maneuver a heavy duty power wheelchair with the joystick or some buttons requiring no assistant and less restraint. It is best used for those who are trying not to strain their shoulders or arms with no help from anyone. 11

2. Seating System

This is important especially to those who have to seat in the wheelchair for an extensive period of time. With it, there is less restraint on the user The seating system could be designed according to the user’s needs such as medical, functional, and personal preference. This is to be prescribed by an expert who knows your health condition best. 12

3. Functions that Adhere Based on the User’s Needs

A heavy duty power wheelchair offers the functions that are limited only to some manual wheelchairs. For manual wheelchairs, there are specific functions for each kind that you need to consider before buying one. Manual wheelchairs are made specifically for a type of condition. An ordinary wheelchair with no specific function is called a standard wheelchair.

A power wheelchair has a function that allows it to recline and tilt-in-space. This recline function in a manual wheelchair is only available to the Reclining Manual Wheelchair. This function changes the angle between the seat and the backrest allowing the caregiver or perhaps a family member for easier access when the patient needs to go to the toilet or help in changing clothes and other things. This type of wheelchair is highly recommended for people who have trouble in shifting their own weight. 13

4. Elevation of Seat

Sitting on a chair could make a big difference in height compared to those people who have the ability to stand. This could further limit a person with disability from joining other activities. However with the feature of a heavy duty power wheelchair to elevate seats, this limitation is no longer applicable. They could now perform activities that require above the shoulder height. 14

But aside from its advantages, a power wheelchair also has its disadvantage. It is bulkier compared to the manual wheelchairs thus it is also more difficult to transfer. Power wheelchairs could be highly useful but this of course comes with a high price.

So for those who are in need of a wheelchair but in a tight budget, a manual wheelchair is also a good choice. 15

You just need to know more about the wheelchair you are getting. You have to remember that the user will use the device most likely daily. This device will have a big effect on how it will help the user to recover and function in his day-to-day activities with limited restraints.

Wheelchairs For Sale On Amazon

Here are several types of manual wheelchairs that could help in choosing the manual wheelchair that will suit your needs:

1. Standard Wheelchair

A standard wheelchair is durable and long lasting. It is also the commonly used wheelchair with a seat height of 19 inches or higher. It weighs at least 35 lbs with a seat depth and width ranging from 15 to 19 inches. It could support up to 250 lbs and only little maintenance is required however it is heavier compared with the other types now available in the market.

This type of wheelchair does not have a feature that could cater to those people who need a specialized position. Thus, it could be less comfortable. It could also be used either indoor or outdoor. 16, 17, 18

2. Lightweight Wheelchair

A lightweight wheelchair is heavier than the ultra-lightweight wheelchair. It could weigh from 29 to 34 lbs. It is easier to fold and easier to use. It could cater to a wide range of needs and uses. 19

3. Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair

An ultra-lightweight wheelchair could weigh from 25 to 34 lbs. With this lighter weight, it is easier for the user to propel and move around. Transporting this kind of wheelchair is also easier because of its lighter weight, making it more convenient when travelling. It has a swing away footrest and adjustable height frame, making it suitable to the user’s preference. 20

4. Heavy Duty Wheelchair

A heavy-duty wheelchair or also known as the extra wide wheelchair could support up to 550 lbs with a seat width of 30 inches. Its advantage compared to other wheelchairs is its weight capacity. 21

5. Transport Wheelchair

A transport wheelchair could weigh from 18 to 29 lbs. It has a lighter weight compared to other wheelchairs and it also has smaller wheels. It is popularly known as the companion chair since it is specifically designed in a way that only the caretaker or a friend could move it.

It is lightweight making it easier to transfer. This type of wheelchair is ideally used when travelling or perhaps for the patient’s doctor appointments. 22, 23

6. Reclining Wheelchair

A wheelchair specially designed for the user to sit safely and comfortably in a certain angle. It could be adjusted up to 180 degrees. It is also heavier and more difficult to fold. This type of wheelchair is not ideal for those who travel often. 24

7. Tilt-in-Space Wheelchair

This wheelchair is designed to prevent further serious health issues by allowing the user to tilt their seat in a more comfortable position that will suit their needs. 25

8. Power-Operated Wheelchair and Wheelchair Scooter

Another choice to be considered is the Power-Operated Vehicle or Scooter. This functions similar as a wheelchair however it looks more like a scooter with two to three wheels, a swivel seat, and handlebars. Electric wheelchairs and scooters function with the use of chargeable batteries.

Triathlete in match wheelchair triahtlon Spijkenisse

However, not all are qualified to use this type of wheelchair. This is limited to the people with a good balance and capacity to use both hands in steering the handlebar are qualified to use this. If you qualify and you want something that does not look like a wheelchair then this is for you. This may be a good option for those people who also value their aesthetics. 26

Another advantage of this device is its swivel seat function. With this function, it will allow the user to easily transfer. It also increases the mobility rate without the user exerting much effort through the help of the provided functions of this device. Moving becomes a lot easier. 27

The Chairiot solo is a rear entry, wheelchair accessible vehicle.

With the advantages of this device are its disadvantages; there are several drawbacks with the use of electric wheelchairs or scooters aside from the fact there are only a number of users that could use it. This may also not be recommended for those who travel often because of its bulky size. With this size, it is going to be difficult to fit in a car or store in a place. 28

Toyota_Porte(2005 welfare spec) photographed in MEGAWEB

Folding it is also not an option, making it even more difficult to transfer. You may need another equipment to attach to your car to easily transfer this. It also needs to be charged often. Lastly, unlike the power wheelchair wherein it can easily be modified based on the user’s needs, this type of wheelchair is not as flexible. There are less ways to modify it in terms of the user’s physical condition. 29

Community relations project by the sailors

SASEBO, Japan (Dec. 22, 2008) Chief Fire Control Technician Eric Bachor speaks with a volunteer at the Hakujyu Nursing Home in Sasebo, Japan. Sailors from the fast-attack submarine USS Bremerton (SSN 698) performed maintenance on more than three-dozen wheelchairs during a community relations project. Bremerton is on its first deployment in the western Pacific Ocean in more than four years. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Electronics Technician John Westbay (Released)

In conclusion, the wheelchair you need will depend on your physical condition. There are different types of wheelchairs that function best for a specific need and preference. After learning all these types of wheelchairs available in the market, choose the best that fits your budget and suits your needs. You might need to consult someone who knows your health condition best first before buying one.

Consider the things mentioned above carefully for a wheelchair is something that will help you live your life as normal as you wanted it to be.

About the featured image on top:

Excerpt from Snapshot (Minsky’s Burlesque, New Jersey, ca. 1954)” – Performed and choreographed by Alice Sheppard and Laurel Lawson, with the permission of Full Radius Dance. Directed and Costumes by Douglas Scott. Photograph taken at “Counter Balance VI – An integrated dance concert that celebrates 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” presented by Access Living, Bodies of Work and Momenta Dance Company, at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 West 19th Street, Chicago, Illinois. September 19, 2015. View more of my photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinirvinechi/

References

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  29. http://kdsmartchair.com/pages/electric-wheelchairs-vs-mobility-scooters



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