Even though wheelchairs appear to be visually the same, they possess a variety of components and features that differentiate one type from the other.
The aspects that makes one type of chair unlike any other for one user lies on the following characteristics:
- The extent at which the user is able to move in the wheelchair
- The perceived sensation the wheelchair provides to the user
- The physical reaction the wheelchair has to certain situations
- The way the wheelchair physically adapts to the user
A person can feel perfectly comfortable in a chair that another might not, that is the reason behind the wide range of chairs available today. Since the equipment is varied, wheelchair users are widely different as well. Disparities in personal aspects and individual conditions play a role in the type of wheelchair a person is best suited for. In some cases it is necessary to bring the necessities of loved ones and caregivers into the equation as well, since they will be propelling the wheelchair.
Aspects that should be taken into consideration include:
- Level of mobility: It refers to the condition affecting the wheelchair user. Some conditions only interfere with people’s ability to move their lower extremities, while other people are able to use their lower limbs but lack physical force.
- Stage of life: It is related to the number of years a person has lived.
- Sex: It deals with the division of male and female according to a person’s reproductive system.
- Physical environment: It alludes to the physical space the wheelchair will normally be used on. Will it be used primarily at home or on rougher environments such as plantations or fields.
- Personal taste: It refers to a person’s inclination to one type of wheelchair over another.
- Extent of wheelchair usage: It denotes the actual wheelchair usage. Some only need a wheelchair for resting for a period of time, while others require it for a lifetime.
Coming to terms with the idea of requiring a wheelchair, even if it is for a short period of time, might be a daunting situation to face. This emotion can be enhanced by the vast number of wheelchairs available in the market. However, it is important for the user to learn to cope with this in order to sort through the options available. Users should have basic knowledge of the different types of wheelchairs so they can chose the one that will offer the highest number of benefits. It is important to not be blind to the different alternatives, since those who know the most about the product will be able to sort better through the different options and finally choose the best among them.
If the user is a wheelchair newbie, then selecting the correct mobility aid might not be as easy and simple as first thought. In these cases, the opinion of a wheelchair expert might be helpful.
The different experts included in the wheelchair selection process include people who operate in the mobility aids field, such as the creative team in charge of wheelchair development and wheelchair retailers. It also includes those people that evaluates and help improve the user’s health condition, such as physicians and therapists.
Although the opinion of someone knowledgeable on mobility devices might be helpful, it is important to remind users that they are the ones who will be using the device and they should trust on their ability to pick an item that will bring about the most benefits.
The process that a person goes through in order to obtain a wheelchair varies. A person usually relies on a caregiver, a loved one, a physician or a sales assistant to get this mobility aid.
A person can obtain a wheelchair by contacting an organization that sets up patients with accredited vendors, by renting one from an organization dedicated to supplying medical products, by borrowing one that belongs to someone they know or simply by purchasing one from a retailer.
There are occasions in which the wheelchair fits exactly the patient’s need, however there are instances in which it doesn’t. To manage expectations prior to beginning the wheelchair selection process it is recommended to collect some information. This information is related to the expected device usage. Being aware of this is important when selecting a wheelchair type in order to determine if the mobility aid will be able to cover the expected requirements. The following are some of the aspects that should be known prior to selecting a chair:
- The amount of time the usage of a wheelchair is required on a daily basis
- The location in which the wheelchair will be used most of the times
- The activities the user will be engaged on
- The requirements of the person propelling the wheelchair
- The preferred transportation method of the user
- The procedure required for getting from the wheelchair to other places.