Buying a wheelchair is a difficult business. Do you go manual or electric? Rigid or folding? Suspension or not? Confused…
Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out. This helpful guide to buying a manual wheelchair is intended to help you begin to think about all the different things that you may need to consider. However, after reading this guide – you may still need further advice. Particularly if you are an active user.
Self-Propel or Attendant Propel
Some people might wish to propel themselves, while for others that might not be possible. This is the first decision you have to make – and it is important one.
This TraveLite travel transit is ideal option for people who want to be attendant propelled. It will fold up and go in bag, which means that you can easily put in the car for days and possibly nights out.
For those who might want the ability to push and/or be pushed, this Enigma Spirit is happy comprise that folds and is easy to transport. It has push rims on the back wheels that allow you to grip and propel yourself, if you want to and can be the best of both worlds.
Other Things To Consider
- Size – You want to try and make sure that the size of the wheelchair is right for you. Being able to sit comfortably is not just about the width being right, it’s also about ensuring you can reach the push rims and that your feet sit nicely on the foot rest.
- Weight – where you want to self-propel or want some help – the weight of the chair is a really important thing. Also most wheelchairs’ have user weight limit of 18 stone (114KG) so if you exceed this – then you need to invest in a heavy duty wheelchair.
- Seat Belts – forget what you have been told, never ever wear a seatbelt! If you do fall out, the last thing you want is said wheelchair falling on top of you.
Where To Buy Your Wheelchair
There are plenty of places to buy wheelchairs of this sort from – including us! Please remember to always buy from well known vendor and try avoid places like ebay for example.
Buying A Wheelchair For Active Use
For some people who want a more active lifestyle – buying a wheelchair can be the same type of purchasing decision as say, buying a car. They’re probably the same price!
But first thing’s first – where do you get the cash from?
What The Government Will Give You
You can be assessed for government support when purchasing any mobility equipment to aid your daily living. However, if you are only going to use your wheelchair occasionally then it can often be quicker and easier to just buy one from the internet or local mobility store.
There are 2 main ways that the Gov can support you:
- Your local wheelchair services can provide you directly with chair as they prescribe. They will have a range of different chairs to choose from and will advise you on what they think you may need. You can find more information here.
- Another way to go is what is called the Voucher Scheme – this is where wheelchair services gives you a ‘cash amount’ to go and purchase your own chair from approved provider.
Things To Remember With Voucher Scheme
- You will be responsible for the maintenance of the chair once you have purchased it.
- Once you have order your wheelchair – YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR MIND.
- The price of the voucher might not cover the whole amount of the chair that you wish to purchase.
- You will not receive the any physical money.
- Under many circumstances you cannot be given a new voucher to purchase another wheelchair for 4 years.
What If Your Needs Change?
If you are still growing or you have a changeable condition, then you can apply for a new voucher early. All you need to do is make appointment with your GP and ask to be referred for reassessment.
You can find more information here. See here for information regarding Scotland.
What Wheelchair Do I Want?
Had to include this because it’s just so cool! Learn more about Aaron here.
Rigid V Folded
The big decision when looking to buy a wheelchair for an active lifestyle is: rigid v folding. Now you might be thinking, “oh well, I need to go folded because otherwise the chair won’t go in the boot of my car.”
Well with quick release wheels and actual size of frames, rigid wheelchairs can be often easier to transport than their folding counterparts. It is up to you, but I would also go rigid because rigid frames offer great stability and manoeuvrability (generally).
Other Things To Consider
Before your assessment always consider:
- What sort of activities do you want to be able to do in the chair? Are you going to be going outside frequently for example?
- How high do you want the backrest? If you have control over your trunk – lower is always better as it gives you a great range of movement.
- Do you want handle bars? If you are trying to become more independent, handlebars might be something to go.
What Wheelchair To Buy If You’re Expecting A Baby
Marvel Wheelchairs was a company created by former Paralympic wheelchair racer Jeff Adams. The design offers greater flexibility, in that you can alter the front of the chair to achieve different sitting positions. For pregnant women buying a wheelchair, the M1 is a great option.
Kushall K Series
When buying a wheelchair for active use, the Kushall K Series is something of a modern classic. The Kushall K4 was the first grown up chair that I had at the age of 12. It was blue and beautiful. The big plus for me with the K series is that you can pick one up (which is made to measure) for a reasonable £1450, which if you’re lucky can be covered entirely by your voucher.
For The Traveller Buying A Wheelchair – The RGK TIGA FX
The TIGA FX is one of the biggest innovations in wheelchair designs to come out in a long time. As they say on the product page, the TIGA FX combines the strength of a rigid frame with the sheer connivance of folding into such a small shape – that it fits into the overhead hold on a plane! Yeah baby.
Most of us who travel have a horror story or two of airlines losing, damaging or even destroying their chairs. So if you do travel, the TIGA FX is a great investment.
Buying A Wheelchair For A Child
Buying a wheelchair for a child use to mean buying something that did not fit them all too well. This meant that mum or dad often just pushing said child around, and no one enjoying the experience much! That was until the clever people at Otto Bock made a wheelchair with a child in mind. Find more information here.
How To Buy A Wheelchair For Less
Many retailers have products in their showrooms for demonstrations. Every so often, retailers will put demos up for sale at a lower price. While not brand new, these demo models are generally kept in excellent condition. Ex-demos are a great way to grab a great chair for less. Check out what Spokz have to offer here.
Accessories are really important as they can transform your chair for certain situations:
- Trabasack – the best wheelchair bag.
- Memory Foam Cushions – because if you’re like me, you’ll lose yours.
If you are after a little extra help to stay active, have a look at our Guide To Hand Bikes For The Disabled. Your wheelchair is a precious thing – protect it with insurance.
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