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The aim of this guide is to help you find the right wheelchair for you. There are many different types to choose from and some are more complex than others. So what do you need to consider?
Will you propel yourself or be assisted? – You might decide to propel yourself using the pushrims on the rear wheels or have someone push you. The self propel wheelchairs have larger wheels which makes them perfect for getting up kerbs and such however, if you are going to be pushed by someone else then you will need an attendant propelled or transit wheelchair. These are easier to manoeuvre and they can be put in the boot of a car easily.
The weight – The lighter the wheelchair, the easier it will to transport it, self propel it or be pushed. However, if you do opt for a lighter wheelchair, it is important to understand that the price will be higher due to the materials used.
Storing your Wheelchair – The majority of wheelchairs can fold and most fold by pulling the seat upwards. However, depending on the type of wheelchair, it may fold in a different way. This will include things such as footrests, arms and the wheels. However, if you need to store it away in a specific space then you need to make sure it fits.
The type of wheels – Wheelchairs that have large wheels are called self-proplled as it makes it possible for the wheelchair user to propel themselves. The ones with smaller wheels are known as attendant propelled. The wheel can come with either solid rubber which provide a harder ride or with pneumatic tyres which offers a more comfortable ride.
Brakes – The brakes are often manual brakes that are located on the rear tyres. If the wheelchair is a attendant propelled chair then there could be brakes positioned by the handles which means more control when it comes to controlling the chair on hills and ramps.
Weight of the User – Wheelchairs will have a maximum weight and if you are heavier than the specified weight then you could be in danger. The usual maximum weight is 18 stone therefore, if you weigh more than this, you will need a heavy duty wheelchair.
The width of the Seat – Your wheelchair has to be comfortable and so, you need a size that is right for you. This will provide a comfortable seating position that works with the arms and footrests to give you a seating position that ensures comfort. If the seat is too narrow it could lead to pressure stores so when measuring up, make sure you wear the thickest clothes that you would wear such as a winter jacket. The most common seat widths are 16”, 18” and 20”. You need to also consider the seat depth because your thighs will require the right support.
It is important that you consider all of these things as they will help you to make an informed decision on a piece of equipment that is crucial to your life in so many ways.