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Considerations for Selecting a Wheelchair
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Considerations for Selecting a Wheelchair

The number of people depending on the use of a wheelchair for all or a portion of each day to perform daily living activities has increased. According to an article from the Disabilities Statistics Center in May 2002(most recent available statistic from the center), almost 1.6 million people in the United States require the use of a wheelchair. The importance of a proper wheelchair fit depends on the ease of performing daily living activities and instrumental activities of daily living with the least amount of injuries.

WEIGHT: Wheelchairs have weight restrictions. The person’s weight will be the first determining factor. The doctor’s office can assist with determining the person’s weight.

ARM LENGTH/HEIGHT: A student or person working at a desk may require a wheelchair with a short arm to roll up to a desk at a proper distance. A wheelchair with a long arm will benefit the person that may transfer to a bed, chair or car by standing and pivoting. The long arm should end just past the seat. Select a height adjustment arm when possible, as proper height is determined by what is comfortable for the individual.

LEG REST LENGTH: Some people are medically required to elevate legs. A leg rest will allow one or both legs to be elevated comfortably and alleviate swelling. Measure the person from the back of the knee to the heel to determine the length of the leg rest.

BACK REST HEIGHT/WIDTH OR RECLINING: To determine proper back rest height, measure from the seat to the collar bone. The doctor may prescribe a higher back rest than normal for some patients. For proper sizing, measure the person from armpit to armpit. Some patients may require a wheelchair with a reclining back rest.

DEPTH/HEIGHT OF SEAT: The depth of the seat can be determined by measuring by placing the person in a sitting position and measuring from just under the bend of the knee to the rear of the hip. The depth should be one inch shorter than this length. The proper depth will aid the person in transferring to a bed, chair or car or aid assistants in transferring the person. The height of the seat should allow the person to touch the floor with the heel of the floor while seated in the chair.

WIDTH OF SEAT: The seat of the wheelchair should measure two inches wider than the person’s hip measurement from side to side at the widest portion. The two inches should allow for bulky winter clothing. A proper seat width can prevent hip and pelvic discomfort. If the seat is to narrow, pressure sores may become a problem.

WHEELCHAIR CARRIERS/RAMPS: Many wheelchairs fold for east storage in an automobile trunk. A person that drives an automobile may require a wheelchair carrier or lift to assist with storage. A wheelchair ramp will assist the person with entrance to the home. Most public access buildings are required to contain wheelchair ramps.

 

 

Leave a Comment

  1. John Mark
    This article is intended to assist children to adults in selecting the proper wheelchair.
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  2. Charlie M
    Interesting. I may have to get my wife a chair soon. Thanks for the info.
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    1. John Mark
      In Reply to Charlie M: Glad I could be of help with this article.
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  3. pftsusan
    pftsusan
    This is an good article. All questions are answered for the first wheelchair.
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    1. John Mark
      In Reply to PFTSusan: Thanks! The right fit is important for comfort.
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  4. immasweetiepie
    Great article Coach! Voted! <3
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  5. pftsusan
    pftsusan
    Congratulations on your first top post over here.
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  6. Wheelzup
    Wheelzup
    Good article for manual chairs and some power chairs but once you move into the power chair area then things become very different. Granted much of what you have stated is true for power chairs but then you get into abductor pad locations, power tilt, recline, center wheel drive, and so on. The best thing a person in need of a new chair is to go to a seating clinic where everything you mentioned will be done by both a doctor, physical therapist, and sometimes an occupational therapist. With the new system of competitive bidding for durable medical being phased in it's the easiest way to get everything you need without having to file a bunch of appeals. Other than that the recommendations are spot on but once they tell you what it will cost you'll be in for some major sticker shock. I started the process in December of 2013 and have had my new chair for about three weeks. There were some things that I have to pay for by myself so I saw what my chair speced out cost which was a little over $46,000.00 yes you read that right. There again my needs are different than most and the insurance only covered about $20,000.00 but the provider that it was purchased from knew exactly what they would get for the chair from my funding sources. Oh yea nearly forgot one major item, a cushion. Mine happens to be from Roho but there are a lot of choices to be had in this area as well.
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    1. John Mark
      In Reply to Wheelzup: Great idea for another article. Do you write for RollingWithoutLimits? If not, I may run with your idea.
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      1. Wheelzup
        Wheelzup
        Yes I do write but my regular job has kept me so busy that I haven't had the time to sit a write anything, or at least with all the right facts.
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        1. John Mark
          In Reply to Wheelzup: Look forward to reading your articles in the future.
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