When it comes to selecting a wheelchair, there are a number of important considerations to keep in mind. Your wheelchair will be a key factor in improving your health and quality of life so be sure to invest some time researching and familiarising yourself with the range that’s available to you on the Central Coast mobility aids market; weigh up the key features of each product and how they match your specific needs and preferences.
We’ve prepared this short presentation to help you select the product that best works for you.
One of the fundamental questions at this stage is whether to rent or buy. If you need a wheelchair for recovery of an injury then rental is viable. Long term users are recommended to buy a wheelchair that’s been specially prescribed for their condition by their doctor or therapist.
There are a few different types of wheelchair; the most common ones are:
* Great for people who have good upper body strength.
* Caregivers can also push the wheelchair using the handles provided.
Lightweight and Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchairs
* Like standard wheelchairs but much easier to lift.
* Compact wheelchairs suitable for small car boots.
* Great for traveling as they can be put in and out of the car for quick errands or trips.
* Usually made of materials such as titanium, carbon steel, or aluminum.
Here at Mobility Joy we have a great range of lightweight and ultra lightweight chairs including Days Wheelchairs and the great Featherweight Wheelchair which is among the lightest on the market. We also stock Karma Wheelchairs like the Karma Ergo Lite Deluxe Self Propelled wheelchair, and Kuschall wheelchairs like the Kuschall K Series Active, the Kuschall Champion Foldable and the Kuschall Compact Foldable.
Bariatric and Heavy-Duty Wheelchairs
* Perfect for heavier users as they feature more robust, sturdier frames and wide seats that can take weights anywhere between 150 to 300kg.
* Normally come with a reclining seat so that caregivers can easily push users in the wheelchair without having to use an excessive amount of force.
We are the Mobility Aids Central Coast suppliers of the Phoenix Bariatric wheelchair and the Breezy EC 2000 HD Bariatric wheelchair with a 318 kg weight capacity.
* Normally associated with hospital environments but can also be used at home.
* Unlike standard wheelchairs, they feature small wheels at the back and the front, and some are fitted as bathroom commodes.
* The shape of this wheelchair does not allow the user to propel themselves so that they will have to be manually pushed by the carer.
* The main issue with transport wheelchairs is that the small wheels might not be suited to all outdoor environments as well as standard wheelchairs that feature large wheels are.
We stock the great KarmaErgo Lite Deluxe here at Mobility Joy.
Tilt and Recliner Wheelchairs
* Tilt In Space wheelchairs are for users with complex mobility issues who need help from one or more people and require special posture and stability controls.
Other types of wheelchair include:
* Electric wheelchairs.
* Paediatric wheelchairs that are specially made for children.
* Sports wheelchairs especially made for athletes with disabilities.
* Hemi height wheelchairs for those who can move the wheelchair with their feet.
An overarching variation over all chairs is whether they are foldable or rigid. Whatever your needs or preference, be sure to consider material, shape, components, accessories and adjustments that make up your choice of chair; see how these will impact its applications, strength, weight and durability.
Your Chair Must Fit You Right
An ill-fitting wheelchair is the number one cause of bad posture and pressure sores in users. These are some of the features that you must consider at the time of deciding on your choice of equipment:
Be sure to consider the width of your chair. A rule of thumb when trialling a wheelchair is to slide a hand into the space between you and the edges of the seat on both sides; the width of play here should be no more than finger width on each side. If your chair is too narrow it can cause posture rigidity and circulation problems, if too wide, the user will quickly end up leaning to one side or slumping over. Some chairs can be so wide that they might not fit through doors in your house; bear this mind. Your ideal wheelchair will be just wide enough for you.
The height of your wheelchair is another critical factor to bear in mind. A chair that’s too high may leave legs dangling leading to posture problems, while a chair that’s too low can affect the way you sit and cause your feet to drag if not set properly on the footrests. A lot of chairs feature adjustable settings for height and depth, making it possible to customise it to your body shape, size and personal needs. In addition to this there are a number of products like cushions or seat plates that can be laid over the seat for therapeutic or posture support purposes. Remember that the final height of your chair will also be determined by these additions.
Consider your backrest height. If you’re going to spend a lot of time on your wheelchair you may want a high backrest that will provide support up to or above your shoulder blades. Lower backrests allow greater freedom of movement but require greater core strength to maintain an upright posture. There are chairs with adjustable backrests that can be folded in half to provide only lower back support, while folded out they again become a full size backrest that provides sturdy upper back support as well. Reclining backrests are common.
Armrest height is important for taking weight off your shoulders and upper body in a manner that promotes comfort and ease of movement, armrests also provide key support when getting in and out of the chair. Be sure to consider the standard height of desks and table tops; fold-back armrests may be desirable in order to clear these and other everyday surfaces so that they won’t be an obstacle to you.
It’s important that you pay attention to the location of the brake levers on your wheelchair as these may pose a hazard to self propelled users. Sometimes, while transiting through unfamiliar surfaces or when reacting suddenly to a situation, the user’s hand may slide too low down the circumference of the propelling ring and get caught between the wheel and the brake lever which can cause painful abrasions, lacerations or tears. Some chairs offer the possibility of relocating the brake lever lower down as to prevent this from happening. Options are also available for brake lever extension for one armed operation.
There are two types of wheels that most chairs will be fitted with: hard rubber or inflatable. Hard rubber wheels are best suited for hard, smooth surfaces like home floors, hospitals, shopping malls etc. Inflatable wheels are best for common transit over uneven outdoor surfaces and terrain.
Center of Gravity
Be sure to familiarise yourself with the role played by the center of gravity in a wheelchair. When the center of gravity is changed, the combined wheelchair and user weight moves forward or backward on the wheelchair frame in relation to the wheels and casters. When too much weight is loaded on the casters they will tend to roll less easily and make their swiveling more difficult due to the stresses put on the bearings. This is especially an issue on soft terrains such as lawns because the casters will not normally roll or swivel easily anyway. When the weight is loaded toward the rear of the chair it will be more easily tipped back making it crucial for the user to be skilled in handling this type of riding and preventing a fall. Wheelchairs are normally fitted with safety sockets or brackets for easily detachable anti-tip wheels that prevent tip-backs from happening. Anti-tip wheels can be a great safety feature for some self propelled users but can compromise other operating functions of the wheelchair such as descending steps or kerbs.
All in all, choosing your wheelchair is a life defining task that deserves every consideration and the assistance of qualified professionals in order to make the best decision. We at Mobility Joy will endeavour to show you all the options that we can, both from our own stock and from the wider variety of products that are available to us through other suppliers. It is our privilege to be surrounded by so many amazing health professionals that we interact with every day and to serve the Central Coast mobility aids community. It poses challenges to us that are not just commercial in nature, they are personal and professional as well, and have everything to do with your well being.