Around 3.3 million Americans use a wheelchair. From manual wheelchairs to motorized chairs, complex rehab chairs to mobility scooters, these mobility devices can help give you more independence and improve your quality of life.
However, there can come a time when your current mobility aid is no longer consistent with your needs.
If the manual chair you’re currently using is starting to cause you pain, fatigue, and other problems, then it could be time for you to transition to a power chair.
Here is some information as to why making the power wheelchair switch could be the right move for you.
Signs You May Need to Transition to a Power Wheelchair
Depending on your specific injury or illness, you may have already had to make the transition from a walking aid to a manual wheelchair. You might have even resisted using a manual wheelchair at one stage.
It’s not easy to accept change and accepting your need for additional help can be even harder. This is why many people choose to ignore the signals that they may need to transition to a mobility aid that’s more appropriate for their current and future needs.
Some of the signs that you may need to make the transition to a power wheelchair include:
- Decrease in mobility
- Increase in pain
- Reduced strength or function
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Posture problems
- Skin sores
- Reduced activity
Often these signs and symptoms can interact. For example, skin sores and posture problems can cause pain, while pain and fatigue can result in reduced activity.
When to Make the Power Chair Switch
Manual wheelchairs have many advantages: they’re more portable, cost-effective, and lightweight. These advantages might have been your biggest concerns in the past.
However, changing chair types is often prompted by the one big disadvantage of a manual chair. You need good upper body strength and plenty of stamina to use one, especially over long distances.
If you’re considering switching, asking yourself these questions can help you decide:
- Are you starting to avoid going to certain places you’d like to go to because it’s too hard or not worth the effort?
- Do you find that you’re using all your energy up using your wheelchair and then have less energy to devote to other things, such as going out, entertaining, or working?
- Does using your wheelchair give you persistent shoulder pain?
- Do you experience less pain and fatigue on days when you don’t use your wheelchair as much?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then it could be time to make the power chair switch. You may still be able to use your manual chair but using it shouldn’t cause you pain or fatigue. Also, as a mobility aid, it’s counterintuitive for your wheelchair to limit your independence rather than enhance it.
It’s also important to recognize that being able to use a manual wheelchair doesn’t mean you don’t need to switch to a power chair yet. Users often switch to preserve their function and mobility, and in turn, preserve their independence.
What’s Holding You Back?
Chronic conditions can worsen, symptoms can change, and spinal cord injuries aren’t the static conditions we once thought they were. As such, the aids that help people with their mobility issues should be adaptive.
Despite this consensus, many manual wheelchair users are reluctant to make the power chair switch. Motorized chairs often associated with elderly people, which can put young wheelchair users off. Certain models can look big and bulky, and power wheelchairs can be more difficult to travel with.
These disadvantages pale in comparison to the far greater problem of continuing to use a mobility aid that limits, or possibly even reduces, your mobility. You wouldn’t continue using a tool you knew to be ineffective for the task at hand, so why put your freedom, independence, enjoyment, and quality of life at risk because of a misplaced fear of giving in.
Preventing Injury and Protecting Your Future
Often, switching to a powerchair can help you prevent further injury and future problems, while also giving you more independence in the present.
Warning signs such as pain and fatigue could be symptoms of a chronic condition such as a muscle imbalance, scoliosis, or degenerative shoulder disease. Continuing to use a manual wheelchair despite the warning signs may bring these conditions on sooner or worsen their severity. In contrast, using a power wheelchair can help you to control or prevent these conditions.
Ignoring the changing chair signs can also impact other areas of your life beyond your physical health. If you’re using up all your energy just to get around, you’ll have none left to invest in your family, work, and outside interests. Plus, limitations to your independence and freedom may start to harm your mental health, relationships, and quality of life.
Get the Perfect Power Wheelchair for You
Once you decide to make the switch, it’s vital that your power wheelchair meets your expectations when it comes to comfort, fit, and operation.
Our trained consultants are experts in mobility, with many years of experience working with patients, as well as their families, doctors, and therapists. From seating assessments to equipment trials, we pride ourselves on ensuring our customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia get the perfect wheelchair for their needs.
Making the Switch to a Power Chair
We understand that making the switch to a power chair isn’t easy. Manual wheelchair users value the independence and quality of life their mobility aid gives them, but when your wheelchair starts to become more of a hindrance than a help, it’s clear that a power chair switch is in your best interests.
A power wheelchair can help you protect your future health, independence, and happiness. It can also give you back the power to live your life as you want to.