Purchasing a wheelchair is a big decision.
Some may even equate the purchase of this mobility device to buying a car.
You’ll use it daily, need it to get from point A to point B, and there are specific features you will want to serve your personal needs and preferences.
Wheelchairs are no longer one size fits all.
Instead, there are many different types of wheelchairs available today.
They come with customizable features, various shapes, sizes, and designs.
What you choose can have a huge impact on your comfort level, ease of getting around, and overall satisfaction with your purchase.
Here we will provide you with some advice on what you should be considering when buying a wheelchair.
But, before we get into specific features, it’s important to think about how, where and how much the wheelchair will be used.
How Will The Wheelchair Be Used?
There are many reasons why you may need a wheelchair.
You may need it temporarily, occasionally, or permanently.
How you use it will greatly sway your decision. Consider these questions about wheelchair use:
Who often will you use it? How much time will you spend on it?
Where will it be used most – in the home? Outside of the home?
How will the wheelchair be transported? Does it need to be folded?
What kind of terrain will it be used on? Sidewalks? Ramps? Outdoors?
Will the wheelchair support you for a physical or medical condition?
Asking these questions will help you better understand what you are looking for and the potential options to consider.
6 Important Wheelchair Features to Consider
Here are five important wheelchair features you should consider when comparing options during the purchase or rental process:
1, Manual or Electric?
This is perhaps the biggest distinction you will have to make when choosing a wheelchair.
Do you want to go with a more traditional manual wheelchair or opt for a more powerful electric option?
If you have limited mobility, a specific health condition or need extra assistance, an electric wheelchair makes sense.
But, if you only need a wheelchair temporarily or occasionally, a manual wheelchair may be better suited for your needs.
Some people prefer one style over the other based on personal preference or cost factors.
If you opt for a manual wheelchair, you will need to choose between self-propelled or attendant-propelled models.
Wheelchairs you can operate on your own have larger wheels and hand rims.
2, Wheelchair Size and Dimensions
Size matters when choosing a wheelchair.
It’s very important to find a chair that is the correct size, or you could have issues fitting in the chair if it’s too small or slipping out of it if it’s too big.
Make sure to measure the width and height of the chair.
Your age, weight and height should all be considered.
Remember, there are wheelchairs specifically designed for children and adults of all shapes and sizes.
Also, don’t forget that each chair has a maximum weight limit.
All models will outline the overall seat width and height dimensions.
Be sure to check them.
3, Arm and Foot Rests
Arm and footrests are designed to provide you with support and comfort.
They also need to be sturdy and secure when you make transitions in and out of your wheelchair.
There are a variety of arm and footrest designs to consider.
The length, ability to move and swing your arm and leg rest will provide you with greater comfort, maneuverability and flexibility.
4, Storage and Transportation
The ease of storage for a wheelchair is easy to overlook.
It’s important to choose a model that not only meets your mobility needs at home but wherever you need to go.
Storing and transporting your wheelchair doesn’t have to be a difficult process.
Always consider the chair dimension and your vehicle or mode of transportation together.
If you drive a car, consider a lightweight chair that is easy to fold.
If you travel in a van or use assisted transportation, you have more space to work with.
Make sure your wheelchair meets your storage and transportation needs before purchase.
5, The Wheels
The wheels you choose are important.
They need to match your mobility needs.
For example, if you use your chair outdoors frequently, you will need a more durable tire designed to operate on multiple surfaces.
You also want tires that are low maintenance, such as foam-filled tires.
They are less likely to go flat.
Tread and grip may also be an important consideration if you use your wheelchair outside during the winter or when the surface is slick.
6, Tilt and Back Support
The amount of support you require will vary based on your needs, medical condition, mobility, size, and other factors.
You must find a chair that provides you with the right amount of back and head support.
If you need a lot of support, tilt in space wheelchairs provide you with a variety of positioning options – this allows you to adjust the chair to meet your needs and ensure you are completely comfortable.