Choosing a Wheelchair
A Guide to choosing a Wheelchair
It is much easier for the less able-bodied than ever before to get out and about in a wheelchair. In this section we will be discussing the advantages and disadvantages between self-propelling wheelchairs, and push wheelchairs (usually known as transit chairs) to guide you in your decision making.
Manual wheelchairs offer more independent mobility and enable you to move without assistance. They have two large wheels on the back with a handrail that enable the users to push themselves around, also there is always the option to be pushed by somebody else if necessary. Irrespective of your size or upper body strength, we have a chair to suit your needs. European-engineered to be lightweight, transportable and compact for storage, these wheelchairs come with swing-away foot plates and removable desk arms to make getting in and out convenient and easy.
Please note: If you have any long term conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and/or history of cardiac problems or stroke, please consult your GP or specialist before purchasing. A transit wheelchair may suit you better.
When going for a walk around the block becomes awkward, or you tire easily when out with family or friends but don't yet require or want a mobility scooter, a transit wheelchair can bring back the pleasure. They are easy to transport, lightweight and durable, and ideal when you need some mobility assistance. Our modern transit wheelchairs are safe, secure and comfortable without compromising usability. Equipped with removable desk arms, swing-away foot plates with calf straps and other user-friendly features for comfort and safety, our range of transit wheelchairs gives you ultimate mobility and convenience.
The correct term for an electric wheelchair is a Powerchair.
There are three distinct styles of power chair, all of which are categorised by the location of the wheels driving them. They are:
Rear-wheel drive - the driving wheels are located to the rear of the seated position.
Mid-wheel drive - the driving wheels are located underneath, or towards the middle of the seated position.
Front-wheel drive - the driving wheels are located towards the front of the seated position.
Each style of power chair offers a very different driving sensation, and different advantages/disadvantages to match in relation to the space that it requires to manoeuvre.
Wheel Chair Sizing
Wheels chairs are mainly measured across the seat canvas. The standard sizing runs from 40cm to 50cm wide for the canvas.
Just like items of clothing such as shoes, it is important that the wheelchair fits the person who is using it well enough to ensure they are comfortable and that it's not likely to press on any part of their body, as this has the potential to create pressure areas.
Telling us your weight also helps, as different wheelchairs have different user weight limits.
Once in a sitting in wheelchair, there are a couple of simple things that you can do once you are in a wheelchair to make sure that it is fitting you okay:
Is there enough room to slide your hand down between the armrest and your thigh? If this is not possible, you need to try a larger size.
Are you able to put two fingers side by side behind your knee before hitting the seat upholstery? If not, then you need to get a wheelchair with a longer seat depth.
If you are working with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist to help select the right wheelchair for you, they will take all of the relevant measurements during your assessment, so you don't need to worry about them!
The position of the footplate can easily be adjusted to fit the individual's leg length. To alter the length, simply loosen the bolt under the end of the leg rest, adjust the footplate in and out to achieve the desired position, and then retighten the bolt securely.
The footplate should be adjusted to support the weight of the individual's foot and lower leg in such a position that permits the weight to be born by the thighs. If the leg rest is too long, the user will have a pressure line mark on the back of the thigh, where it is pressing on the skin. If the leg rest is too short, the knees will be too high and too much pressure will be on the buttocks, causing discomfort and reducing the amount of time you want to remain in the chair.
Ideally the user's hips, knees and ankles should be at 90-degree angles.
If the leg rests swing-away, the wheelchair user can get closer to an object that they are being transferred onto, like a bed or a chair.
Anti Tip wheels
Anti-tippers are designed to stop the wheelchair from tipping backwards when the wheelchair is going up an incline. Although some can be removed they are actually safety feature on the wheelchair and should be used at all times.
Maintenance of Wheelchairs
Most wheelchairs come with a basic instruction manual which outlines any specific regular maintenance that is required for that model.
In general, it is a good idea to check the following on a monthly basis:
If you have pneumatic tyres on your wheelchair, check that the air pressure in the tyres is correct – the correct pressure is indicated on the side of the tyre.
Check the axle housing is free from dirt, hair and mud. Clean any dirt or hair that has gathered around the axles – the wheels need to spin freely.
Check the castors run smoothly – make sure there is no hair, fluff or grit in the castors.
Check the brakes hold the tyre firmly in place and are easy to put on and off.
Check the nuts and bolts are all tight and secure.
Other words of advice when choosing a wheelchair.
Try as many as you can – visit us instore as we hold many different models in stock so you can compare them there. Our staff are trained to assist people find the right size wheelchair for you that is within your price range.