If you need a wheelchair, the main decisions you’ll have to make about your chair are:
- whether it will be self-propelled, pushed by someone else, or electric-powered
for permanent or occasional use
- for indoor or outdoor use
- whether you need it to go in and out of a car
There are pros and cons for each type of chair, so the choice depends on your needs. There are a large variety of manual wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs available, so expert independent advice is essential. Some of the things to consider when choosing the right equipment are:
There are pros and cons for each type of chair, so the choice depends on your needs. There are a large variety of wheelchairs and scooters available, so expert independent advice is essential. Some of the things to consider when choosing the right equipment are:
- Your physical ability. For example, if you’re unable to stand up, a scooter may be difficult to manage. Stability and balance may also affect what you can use.
- How the equipment will be used. For example, do you need to get up stairs or through narrow doorways?
- Practical considerations, such as access to a power point if the equipment needs to be charged up, or having a secure place to store the equipment when it’s not in use.
Choice of wheelchair design
The design of the chair affects how it can be used. Look out for:
- large rear wheels, which make wheelchairs easier to manoeuvre
- wheels positioned further forward on an adjustable axle, which require less effort to move the chair
- lightweight chairs that fold or can be dismantled easily if the wheelchair has to be lifted and transported regularly
- seat size, angle and style, as well as the position of the foot, back and arm rests – these should all be taken into account when considering the comfort of the chair
- You should also bear in mind that standard wheelchairs can’t be modified. “Active-user” wheelchairs are usually more expensive, but they have the advantage of being adjustable and adaptable.
- If you need a wheelchair that’s pushed by someone else, it’s still important to consider how easy it will be for them to use it. For example, can they lift it and put it in the boot of the car?
- Before deciding on a specific style of wheelchair, it’s a good idea to try it out around the house or on the local roads.