A wheelchair is a piece of medical equipment that is used for transportation by people who have difficulties in walking as a result of an illness or a disability. If a wheelchair is needed for a permanent disability, it should be prescribed by a physician or a therapist. However, if a wheelchair is to be used only occasionally for a brief illness, injury or for convenience, it most likely can be purchased or rented at a retail store that specializes in medical equipment. Careway Wellness Center, in Woburn Massachusetts, carries a complete line of wheelchairs for purchase or for rental. The professional sale’s associates at Careway Wellness Center suggest that if the wheelchair is needed for more than two months, it should be purchased; however, if it is to be used for shorter periods of time, say for a very temporary illness or injury, or to attend a celebration; such as a wedding or graduation, one should favor the rental option.
A manual wheelchair is extremely easy to use. Wheelchairs are configured with four wheels; two large wheels in the rear and two small wheels in the front. The manual wheelchair is put into motion by the occupant propelling the large rear wheels in the direction of travel. This is done by using the hand rims, which are attached to the outside of the large rear wheels. The hand rims are merely grasped by the occupant and pushed forward or backward allowing the large wheels to propel the wheelchair either forward or backward. Should the occupant be incapable of propelling the wheelchair on his or her own ability, there are handles behind the seat for a caregiver to do the pushing. Foot propulsion of the wheelchair by the occupant is also common for patients who have limited hand movement capabilities or simply do not wish to use their hands for propulsion. Foot propulsion also allows patients to exercise their legs to increase blood flow and limit further disability. When seeking out a wheelchair for purchase, you will find moderately priced wheelchairs and high priced wheelchairs to choose from. At the low-cost end, you will find the construction features of the chair to be heavy, tubular steel chairs with sling seats. Users of these low-cost chairs may be temporarily disabled, or they may be using such a chair as a rental for a short period of time. The cost of a wheelchair increases when it is fabricated with light weight metals and special features. These high end chairs are usually ultra-light models that are outfitted with extensive seating options and a variety of accessories. High cost wheelchairs are more commonly used by individuals with long-term disabilities. Your caregiver, physical therapist, or occupational therapist will help you choose the right wheelchair for your needs.
Consider these questions before you buy a wheelchair:
- Will the wheelchair be easy to operate?
- Will you be able to get in and out of the wheelchair without difficulty?
- What types of terrain will the wheelchair be able to navigate on?
- Should the wheelchair be collapsible for travel?
- Do I need extra features on the wheelchair?
- Should I rent a wheelchair before I buy one?
- What does the wheelchair cost?
A Transport Chair, Transport Wheelchair or Travel Wheelchair, as they are commonly referred to, are considered to be lightweight mobility chairs that combine the function of a wheelchair with the portability of a rollator. They differ from regular manual wheelchairs in that they are not designed to be maneuvered by the person seated in the chair. Rather, they are intended to be pushed by a caregiver, friend or family member of the person seated in the chair. Unlike conventional wheelchairs, because of their small wheels, the user should not propel the chair with his or her feet. Transport chairs come in a variety of colors and sizes and as their popularity continues to increase, manufacturers are stylizing transport chairs with pleasing shapes and additional colors. At Careway Wellness Center, you will find a variety of transport chairs that are available for purchase as well as for rental on a weekly or monthly basis. A common question that is asked about transport chairs is does Medicare insurance cover their cost. Unfortunately transport chairs are not covered by Medicare. A very interesting product that can fall into the category of a transport chair is a product that is called the “Duet”. This product combines features of two mobility devices into a single device. It offers the features of both a transport chair and a rollator in one simple device. At the present time, this item is only available in our retail location, but it will soon be available online as well. The “Duet” enables those with limited mobility to travel with family, friends or a caregiver while only having to bring along one mobility device. The Duet offers all of the features of a traditional transport wheelchair.
Wheelchair safety tips:
- Practice how to get in and out of a wheelchair safely. A wheelchair can unexpectedly move or roll when you are getting in or out of a sitting position. In order to prevent the wheelchair from moving or rolling, it is essential that you lock the rear wheels so that the wheelchair remains stationery. Locking the wheels is accomplished by simply pulling on a handle which locks the wheels in place. Careway Wellness Center’s sales associates are prepared to demonstrate how to use the wheel locks. To repeat, because of its importance, one should learn how to lock the rear wheels to keep the wheelchair in place when getting in or out of the chair. Learning the technique requires a minimum amount of practice.
- If a wheelchair is equipped with foot rests or leg rests, it is important that they be moved out of the way before getting in or out of the wheelchair. Moving or adjusting leg rests or foot rests in a very simple process, but it should be demonstrated and practiced before purchasing a wheelchair equipped with these accessories.
- Wheelchairs are used both indoors and outdoors. When inside, the environment should be well lit for safe maneuverability. Floors should not be wet or slippery and electric cords should be out of the way for smooth and unhindered travel. If scatter rugs are an obstacle, they should be removed.
- While outdoors, move your wheelchair safely over the ground. If on a street with traffic, you should stay on the right side, the same direction as vehicle or bicycle travel. Follow the same rules for hallway travel and sidewalks so that people have room to go around you. Be extremely careful traveling over ramps and sidewalk cut-outs.
- Back into elevators. This will help you to reach the elevator buttons more easily.
- Don’t pull backward on doors or other objects when sitting in a manual wheelchair. A door could suddenly release and you could tip over backwards.
- Avoid putting heavy loads on the back of a wheelchair. This could cause the chair to tip over backwards.
- Keep loose objects or lap cover away from the wheel spokes.
- Wheelchairs are not toys. Don’t let children play with your wheelchair. They can be injured or cause damage to the wheelchair.
- Be extra cautious if riding on the street. Attach a pole flag to the wheelchair so that oncoming traffic can spot you. If you use your wheelchair outside, use headlights and flashing tail lights.
- Regular Maintenance is very important. Keep the wheelchair in good repair and you will prevent many accidents and malfunctions.