Purchasing a wheelchair is much like choosing a new car. After all, they’re both designed for accessibility, painless transportation, and comfort. Today, wheelchairs are no longer one-size-fits-all; different models are available in several sizes and features to cater to various needs and guarantee optimum convenience. Whether you’ve suffered an accident or have started experiencing age-related mobility loss, choosing the right wheelchair will go a long way in improving your health and quality of life. In this dedicated article, we’ll highlight the most important things to consider when purchasing a new wheelchair to make sure that your investment is one that will last you a lifetime.
To make a satisfying purchase, start by determining the purpose and type of environment the chair will be used in. Do you need a temporary wheelchair, or will it be your main transport device? Will it be used indoors or outdoors? Does your wheelchair need to be folded and easily carried around? Answering these questions will help narrow you down your search and know what features and qualities to look for, which brings us to our next point.
Manual Vs. Electric
This is easily one of the most important factors to consider. Of course, the decision entirely depends on your condition, lifestyle, and budget. Now, if you plan to use your chair occasionally, choosing a traditional one makes sense. As the experts from UpliftingMobility.com point out, manual wheelchairs have the advantage of lightness and maneuverability, with some models being foldable for practicality. Consulting specialized reviews will show you how they fare in terms of size, features, and price points.
By contrast, modern electric wheelchairs come equipped with a motor for better autonomy and convenience. They’re suitable for people who want to maintain their independence and who seek versatility, which inevitably comes at a steeper price. Electric wheelchairs also tend to be heavier and bulkier, which may not suit a number of users. Some research should get you acquainted with the specifics of these motor-powered chairs.
Depending on your mobility disability, you might want to consider whether or not you need an electric wheelchair. For instance, if you have multiple sclerosis, and you only find the need to use your wheelchair on days where your chronic pain is more severe, a manual option would be less expensive and possibly more suitable. If you have a permanent disability, some users suggest that electric chair are much less exhausting to use. Of course, this depends on both preference and needs, so try to test them out if you can before making your investment.
Dimensions and Weight Capacity
Whether you choose to go manual or electric, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a wheelchair that isn’t the right size for you. Stability and comfort are of the essence. A chair that’s too narrow won’t allow you to sit in it properly, and inversely. As such, consider your age, height, and weight; wheelchairs are designed for different people with various morphologies and needs, which is why taking proper measurements before purchasing is critical. Fortunately, even when buying online, you’ll always find a detailed specs list attached (height, width, maximum load, and such). Seek help from a friend or a medical device specialist to help you in the selection process.
Arm and Foot Rests
In a similar vein, look for a wheelchair that’s comfortable and sturdy enough for both your arms and legs. The chair’s limb rests should provide sufficient support to help you transition in and out of the chair effortlessly; this will guarantee optimal maneuverability. In your quest for a wheelchair, pay special attention to the arm and footrests’ size, length, design, and cushioning. You’ll want to look for a design that keeps your feet and arms secure, both for safety and for comfort.
Back and Neck Support
The same goes for your back. While this mainly depends on your condition, size, and other factors, selecting a chair that offers plenty of support for your back, neck, and head will go a long way in maximizing your comfort. This is especially important if you’re spending a lot of time inside. Modern wheelchairs are typically very ergonomic to make you feel at ease and encourage good posture. However, if this is the sole reason you want to purchase a new wheelchair, you might want to consider investing in accessories that would provide your back and neck the support and comfort you seek. This is a much less expensive option than having to make a new purchase entirely.
Depending on your environment and lifestyle, you want a chair that comes equipped with durable and versatile wheels to match your everyday mobility needs. For instance, if you plan to use your wheelchair outdoors a lot, your best bet is to get multi-surface, flat-proof tires. Consider factors such as grip, tread, and maintenance to find the chair that will make your transportation needs easier. Ask your local shop expert for the best recommendations. If you spend most of your time indoors, it’s likely best to opt for a sleeker design that will make moving through doorways easier than bulkier alternatives that are meant for outdoor use.
Transportation and Storage
Lastly, but importantly, think of how compact and mobile you’d like your wheelchair to be. If you’ll be called upon to transport it and store it on various occasions, say, on a car trip, opt for a lightweight, foldable chair that’ll fit seamlessly in your trunk. The same applies if you live in a small apartment; look for compact and space-saving chairs.
While it may seem daunting at first glance, purchasing a wheelchair doesn’t have to be a chore. The most essential things to consider are your measurements, needs, and day-to-day habits. Also, make sure that your chair fits the environment it’ll be used in and consider whether you spend more time in the outdoors or indoors. Adjustable wheelchairs are also an option but may require the help of another party to put together. Combine all these factors, and you’ve got yourself the ideal wheelchair for your preferences and needs!