The Essential Guide to Buying Wheelchairs
The loss of a person's mobility is always a stressful time, as the loss of independence and dignity are often unwanted side-effects. However, there are a number of quality mobility aids that are specially designed to make life easier for immobility sufferers. While the sight of wheelchairs is now taken for granted in high streets and shopping centres up and down the country, their users never take the independence their mobility aids provide for granted. Purchasing these essential aids presents several different options to users, so it is handy to be in possession of some facts before making such a significant investment.
Self-Propelled or Carer-Driven
Wheelchair users who want to control their own speed and direction should opt for a self-propelled model. However, many users who buy this type of chair will do so with the intention of being pushed by a carer. They opt for the self-propelled varieties of wheelchair because of the extra comfort that is delivered from larger rear wheels. Transit chairs - intended for propulsion by the user - will have smaller rear wheels, but they will generally be far more manoeuvrable. If the user intends to transport a wheelchair by car on a regular basis, it should be lightweight and easy to fold down. The latest models feature lightweight materials such as carbon-fibre; although they are usually more expensive.
For a lighter wheelchair, wheels are often manufactured with carbon-fibre spokes. The vast majority of standard wheelchairs feature wheel-rims with metals spokes or moulded plastic rims. Generally speaking, the lighter the wheels, the more expensive the wheelchair will be. The type of tyres used in a wheel will determine the quality of ride that will be experienced by the user. Inflated tyres will provide a smoother ride, but they will be prone to punctures. This type of wheel should not be used when the wheelchair is intended for lots of outdoor use on rough terrain. Solid rubber tyres do not deliver the same level of comfort, but they are far more hard-wearing. Other features to look out for include quick-release rear wheels and anti-tip wheels.
The majority of footrests will be adjustable to meet the needs of the individual user. There may be a calf-strap for extra safety, and heel-straps are often fitted to ensure that feat don't slip off during transit. If the user needs to extend the legs during transit, it may be a good idea to purchase elevating footrests with padded calf-rests attached.
Good armrests are essential in any wheelchair, as they provide a comfortable ride, and they aid the entire body's balance. Depending on the needs of the user, it may be necessary to temporarily remove the armrests to allow entry and exit from the chair. Some armrests will be completely removable, while others will swivel outwards or upwards at an angle of 90 degrees. It is also possible to buy a model with an adjustable rest - ideal for particularly tall users.
Once again, the type of braking system required really depends on the need of the user. Some systems will allow the user to break by pushing a lever forwards, while others will require the lever to be pulled backwards. It may also be necessary for a carer to have access to brakes, and there are some fantastic models on the market that provide this safety function. It is imperative that the user checks the weight limit of a wheelchair before making a purchase. Some braking mechanisms will not work properly beyond certain weight thresholds, and it is sometimes necessary to purchase more durable systems.
A wheelchair will become a huge part of the user's life, so it should cater to every mobility need, as well as the user's body dimensions. The best way to ensure that the model is perfect for the individual is by testing several before a purchase is made. If a carer will be expected to propel the chair, that person should also be present at the time of testing. Choosing a well-respected supplier, such as The Mobility Superstore, will ensure that the best possible model for the individual is purchased every time.
The Mobility Superstore is an online mobility store specialising in independent living products from Days Healthcare. We supply over 6000 mobility aid products as such wheelchairs, commodes, rollators & much more for independent living.