A wheelchair is a type of medical equipment typically used for for those who have limited mobility due to injury, illness, or some sort of disability that makes walking difficult or impossible.
The primary purpose of the wheelchair is to provide mobility so that people have degree of convenience and comfort in their day-to-day lives that will help them live as normally as possible.
Choosing a wheelchair is not a simple task when you consider all the options including their make, features, benefits, and price. Some basic points have to be considered before deciding on a final choice.
Important Guidelines In Choosing The Ideal Wheelchair
There are two types of wheelchairs — the standard type and the transport type wheelchair. The standard wheelchair, which is more popularly used, is the type with two big wheels under it and two smaller ones, called castor wheels, on the front. This type of wheelchair can be controlled by its occupant without assistance by turning the handrims on the large wheels.
A standard wheelchair can be pushed by an attendant or companion using the handles on the back. The motorized wheelchair which is battery-powered is considered a standard wheelchair.
The transport type wheelchair is often used to move an immobile person when his own wheelchair or any other option is not available. It has four small wheels and are usually folding chairs of lightweight construction. Transport wheelchairs are commonly found in hospitals and airports. Healthcare facilities use both standard and transport wheelchairs.
In choosing a wheelchair, it is important to consider its weight capacity. A person’s weight should be appropriately matched with the wheelchair’s capacity. This is true when selecting wheelchairs to be used in hospitals or healthcare facilities involving different users and varied weights. A regular wheelchair can hold up to 250 pounds; weights exceeding this limit require bariatric wheelchairs intended to carry much heavier weights.
The seat size of the wheelchair is also important to check before buying. A typical wheelchair is about 18 – 20 inches wide. To accommodate bigger users, wider seat dimensions are also obtainable. How high or low is the wheelchair is also critical in the selection process. The height of the wheelchair should be adjusted to suit the occupant’s preference — a very low wheelchairseat can cause leg discomfort, while an extremely high chair can be difficult to mount and dismount.
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Other wheelchair details to consider are armrests, backrests, footrests, and leg rests. Reclining backrests on some models provide more comfort and drop-down armrests on other models add convenience in transferring users from wheelchairs to beds and vice-versa. Leg rests can offer additional comfort and leg support.
There are optional wheelchair accessories for added convenience in using the equipment such as drink holders, extra support for the head and neck, shock absorbers, holders for oxygen tanks and crutches, and anti-tipping bars.
Making the final choice for an ideal wheelchair can be more complicated than expected as there are many worthy options to consider. It is important to keep in mind that the user’s condition, his other special needs, and how the wheelchair will be used, should govern the guiding principles in the final decision for a wheelchair.