How to Decide What Type of Mobility Equipment to Purchase

Wheelchairs are simple, yet complex. At first glance, they all look the same. There are usually two large spoke wheels with a seat between them and a couple of cane shaped handles attached to the back of the seat, for pushing.

Steps

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    Evaluate the level of mobility of the end user. For instance, a person with moderately good use of their lower extremities and minimal arm strength would possibly want a with swing-away foot rests to self propel by using their feet on occasion.
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    Know and understand the medical condition/s of person being considered for a wheelchair. Also consider the anticipated length of time it will be used, as well as the progression of disease/ condition. Some products can be converted accordingly.
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    Consider the method of transferring into/ out of the wheelchair to help decide if swing-away or removable arm rests and foot rests are recommended. Also, if transferring alone anti-tippers are recommended.
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    Take certain factors into consideration. There are factors to consider when determining if a head rest is necessary. Is the person alert and oriented? How is the neck, shoulder muscle tone and head control of the intended user? In some instances seat belts or a harness may be in order.
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    Gather data on the body type of the end user. Weight and height are major factors as wheelchairs vary greatly in size and durability.
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    Considering the length of time the person will be spending in the equipment, to decide the best seating and tilt options.
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    Know if the product will be used indoors or outdoors (or both), the types of surfaces and inclines that will be encountered. Know the turn radius required for the space available. This will help determine the type of wheels/casters you should choose.
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    If traveling with the equipment, you should be sure it will fit into the transporting vehicle. Some products fold, others do not.
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    Ask what the "Standard Options" are versus the "Extra Options".
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    Find out whether or not the product can be rented if not intended for long term use.
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    When shopping around for the best deals, it is best to use the model number combined with the product name to make accurate comparisons.

Tips

  • There are many things to consider before purchasing mobility equipment, therefore it is advisable to seek the opinion of a medical professional particularly if this would be the first product for the user. There are interactive forms on some websites which are useful in making your selection.

Warnings

  • Assistive devices are investments towards enhancing the quality of life for many, and should not be taken for granted. When in doubt consult a physician.

Sources and Citations

  • Shasme Jones has been a nurse since 1992, owner of a Private Duty Homecare business and WheelchairsAbound.com online store.

Article Info

Categories: Mobility Disabilities | Medication and Medical Equipment