wheelchair-article | Spring Chicken

What Types of Wheelchairs are Available?

I’m finding it hard deciding what type of Wheelchair is best for me, can you help?

Types of wheelchair

Unless a very specialist chair for posture needs is required, a standard chair is either self-propelled, attendant propelled, or electric.

Standard wheelchairs

Standard wheelchairs can be bulkier and heavier.

Self-propelled wheelchairs have wheels which you can push when you are sitting in the wheelchair.  To be able to propel yourself you will need good sitting balance and upper limb strength and ability to control speed going down hill. – https://springchicken.co.uk/caregiving/attendant-wheelchairs-on-test/

Attendant propelled wheelchairs are not able to be moved independently.

For bariatric or wider wheelchairs doors will need to be widened. – https://springchicken.co.uk/caregiving/attendant-wheelchairs-on-test/

Electric wheelchairs

Electric chairs are great for independence.

To use one you will need fairly good eyesight (no blind spots), good sitting balance, memory and co-ordination (especially for reversing). Once practiced with they can be easy to use indoors and outside. There are now foldable versions which avoid the need for a special car if the person is able to transfer on and off it into a car seat.

Its a good idea to practice indoors until confident before attempting pavements outside.


Other considerations

A wheelchair needs to be sturdy enough to withstand being folded down and up again repeatedly and also fit not just the user but also any carer who will be handling it. To fit the user, measurements are usually taken by a trained person as the back rest, arms, width and footplates all need to be at the right height to prevent stiffness, pressure sores and muscle contractures. For the carer the height of the handles needs to be neither too high or too low and they must be able to handle the combined weight of the person and chair as well as getting the chair in and out of a car.

Therefore the weight and adjustability of the wheelchair is important to know. Having a wheelchair can provide much more accessibility for going places and conserve energy for important tasks when fatigue is an issue. The size of the boot space in a car will affect choice of chair as even when folded they are still bulky.

A removable arm will be necessary if the person needs to use a transfer board to get onto different sitting surfaces. If the arms are too short or far back then this can cause problems for the person trying to push off for standing. Removing the arms will also allow the user to get closer to a dining table.

Using a wheelchair to get about exclusively should only be done when all other options have been exhausted as it will decrease muscle strength in core posture and back muscles as well as lower limbs. Also sitting in a wheelchair for too long is not recommended unless an appropriate cushion is used.

Any information of a medical nature on this website is given to provide a general understanding of a medical condition or conditions.
No patient/doctor relationship is to be inferred and you should seek medical advice from a qualified practitioner.
Nothing on this site should be used as a substitute for competent advice from a qualified medical practitioner.


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