Choosing The Right Wheelchair
Measure twice, purchase once! When choosing the right wheelchair there are so many things to consider.
• Is it lightweight?
• Can you get close to the dining room table or your desk?
• Can you get to the bedroom and closets?
• Will it fit through the bathroom door?
• What accessories does it come with?
• Do you need anti tippers?
• Can you buy online or should you buy from a local vendor?
Measure That Door!
Measure the smallest door in your home, which is usually the bathroom door. To determine the overall width of any wheelchair you will need to add 7-8 inches to the seat width for the overall width of the wheelchair for standard folding, reclining and bariatric wheelchairs. This includes the hand rim on the back wheels. Narrow doorways can mean skinned knuckles if the chair fills the width of the door.
For transport wheelchairs (those with 4 small wheels) you will need to add 3 inches to the width of the seat. For example if your transport chair seat width is 18 inches, add 3 inches for an overall width of 21 inches.
Lightweight wheelchairs are usually the hemi type wheelchair and weigh just a few pounds lighter than standard wheelchairs. Keep in mind the strength of the individual who will need to move the wheelchair across carpet, up ramps, on sidewalks, and other surfaces they regularly travel. Even a pound or two can mean a great difference in independence by
choosing the right wheelchair.
Getting close to the dining room table or your desk at work or in your home office can often times be accomplished by purchasing desk arms instead of full length arms. Some full length arms are adjustable in height. Desk length style arms have a lower bend in front. On newer chairs they can be removed or flipped back. The photo above shows desk style arm rests. They are not adjustable in height.
Being able to get to your closet and dressers in your home can usually be accomplished by arranging the furniture in your room for easy access. Some modifications are easy to make and others may be more costly.
The most challenging room to get in and out of is probably going to be your bathroom as most doors are narrower, and then there are the obstacles of the sink, tub and toilet. If you have a small bathroom and want to stay in your present home, then you may need to consider remodeling to accommodate a wheelchair.
Accessories usually mean type of arm rests, foot rests or leg rests. The picture above shows elevating leg rests that swing away or can be removed. Foot rests do not elevate or have leg pads as shown, but can be removed or swing away for safe transfers in and out of the wheelchair. Accessories can include wheelchair bags to oxygen tank holders.
Anti-tippers have two small wheels attached to an angled tube and are placed at the back of the wheelchair frame near the floor. These help prevent the chair from tipping over backwards. This is especially important when you have a reclining back wheelchair, or for someone who needs a tall back chair.
Purchase Your Wheelchair
Knowing what you need before you shop makes it less frustrating whether you shop online or locally.
Remember your measuring tape!