Choosing a manual wheelchair

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Choosing a manual wheelchair

A manual wheelchair is a wheelchair that you need to move without the assistance of a battery & motors. These wheelchairs require you to propel it or another person to push you.
So, how do you choose one?

Firstly, you should take the overall weight of the wheelchair into account. Would you be able to lift it? Would you be able to put it into your car if you ever need to?
The weight of the chair can also affect the difficulty of pushing the chair. The lighter the frame, the easier it is to lift. However, lighter wheelchairs often cost more compared to others. They are usually made with an aluminium frame, which costs more than the standard steel frame.
Detachable parts, like removable arms, wheels or detachable footplates can also reduce the weight of a wheelchair.

Secondly, storage should be taken into consideration. Most wheelchairs fold upwards by pulling on the seat, when others, like the Bluebird Travel Wheelchair, can fold into a bag and more.
You can also look out for wheelchairs with detachable parts, to make them lighter and easier to store away.
Make sure that the wheelchair that you pick out is the right size for you, so you could fit it into, for example, your car if you ever need to travel with it.

The features of a wheelchair should also be thought about when choosing a wheelchair. Make sure that the wheels are the right size for you to propel the wheelchair, that the footplates don't get in the way when you stand in front of the chair and that the armrests aren't an obstacle to transferring.
You also need to check that the brakes are easily accessible to you, and you have no problem using them. 
If you are opting for an attendant propelled wheelchair it is a good idea to ensure that your carer also tries it with you seated in it. It is advisable that he or she also has a try of folding and lifting it.

The next thing to assess is the maximum user weight of the wheelchair, the seat width, and the height of the armrests and backrest.
Make sure that you do not exceed the maximum user weight or the wheelchair will be dangerous to use. If you do exceed the limit, look for a heavy duty wheelchair.
It is important to make sure that the seat width of your wheelchair is right for you and that your weight is evenly distributed across the seat. By doing that you will help to avoid pressure sores.
If the seating position is still not comfortable for you, most wheelchairs have adjustable footplates to help you achieve one and there is a range of cushion options. 

Most wheelchairs have fixed backrest heights so it is important to make sure that the backrest is comfortable and suitable for you. Finally, make sure that the armrests support your arms in a comfortable manner so they aren't too high or too low. If they're too low, you may end up leaning to one side, and if they're too high your shoulders will be hunched.
Make sure that you choose or adjust them to the correct height for you.

If you opt for a self-propelled manual wheelchair ensure that the rear wheels are in the correct position for you and set at the correct height adjustment. This is important to ensure that you do not excessive strain on your shoulders. 

Last but not least are accessories. Wheelchairs can have a variety of accessories fitted to them, such as storage bags, cushions and walking stick holders. Storage bags help you to carry things on your wheelchair, and although you cannot access them whilst sitting down, they carry a lot and make travelling much easier. Walking stick holders also make it much easier to carry your walking stick with no hassle. Cushions make your wheelchair much more comfortable. Memory foam cushions are recommended; they prevent pressure sores and make the wheelchair more comfortable for prolonged amounts of time.
If you have specialist pressure care needs talk to Wings Mobility regarding your seating options; especially if you have been assessed to be in the "High Risk" Category.

So when picking your manual wheelchair, make sure you think about everything listed above and, maybe more, depending on your personal situation. Pick wisely!

Wings Mobility staff are trained to make wheelchair assessments and are always happy to advise to ensure that you get the right wheelchair for your needs.