Choosing a wheelchair – some helpful tips

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When it comes to choosing a wheelchair, some helpful tips come in from everyone and anyone.  Whats a good piece of advice?  What’s personal to their circumstance?  We’ve taken a look at some key questions everyone (power or manual wheelchair user) should think about.

Choosing a wheelchair - some helpful tipsWhat is your plan for the next few years?

Regardless of being in work, wanting to work or just needing to obtain or improve your independence, its important to think about some of the things you would like to achieve.  This means that you should consider where your life is going approximately, even if you don’t have much idea of where it will be in 5 years time.  Don’t panic though – none of us really do.

However, you shouldn’t think just about your work.  Consider about your home life too.  Do you want children? Do you want to be more active with family?  Do you want to be able to take the wheelchair in particular cars or to particular places?  These are all important factors to help your decision making when it comes to your life.

A good example of this is that when I was considering my own needs 5 years ago switching to my Xenon, I needed a wheelchair that would enable me to move with minimal effort and support my posture for reasonable periods of time.

Whats your mode of transport?

 

Champion SK in Seat Mii

Champion SK in Seat Mii

As well as considering the now, think about the wider group of people you might travel with.  This means that if you know you would like to fly, you could consider a wheelchair suitable, such as a electric wheelchairs with dry-gel or sealed batteries or a manual wheelchair that has a locking mechanism for safe flights.

If you drive, you might already have a method of stowing your current wheelchair into your vehicle.  You should consider how a new wheelchair might fit into this or need to be adapted to fit to this.  For example, if you place the frame on your front passenger seat, you should ensure you can still do this.  If you hoist your wheelchair, you should make sure that your new wheelchair meets the weight requirements of your existing hoist.

Electric wheelchairs are nearly always fitted with anchor points that enable safe restraint during travel, as are many manual wheelchairs.

Want to know if it’ll fit your life?

Take a test drive for a few days.  If someone is serious about selling you a wheelchair, they’ll be able to source a demonstration model that will be close to some of your needs.  When I was moving to the Xenon, I test drove the Kuschall Champion as well, agonising for days before selling on the Sunrise Quickie Xenon.

If considering a manual wheelchair, have a look at the differences between a rigid or folding frame wheelchair.

What’s the most important thing of all?

You must be happy with your decision and you shouldn’t rush it.  Use our reviews to help you identify the wheelchairs to consider and look at other people’s experience of their wheelchairs.

Of course, once you have got your new wheelchair – come back and tell us about it.

Over to you

What questions do you have?  What did you find invaluable about your change in your wheelchair?  Tell us in the comments below.

A wheelchair user for 20 years, Dominic looks at how a wheelchair works for its user base, not the brochure.

Dominic is our lead editor.

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