Around 3.3 million Americans use a wheelchair, with a further 10 million people relying on walking aids such as canes and crutches.
If mobility is becoming difficult for you, considering buying a wheelchair could be your best option. From manual wheelchairs, to motorized power chairs, these mobility devices can help improve your quality of life and give you more independence.
However, with various styles to choose from, it’s important that the wheelchair you go with suits your particular needs.
Here is a handy guide on mobility devices to help you decide which style is right for you.
Different Types of Mobility Devices
The first step to deciding on the right type of wheelchair for you is to consider your needs and limitations. You’ll also need to think about how and when you’ll use the wheelchair. For example, if you need a wheelchair for indoor and outdoor use, this will have an impact on your decision.
These are the three main types of mobility devices to consider:
A manual wheelchair can be the best choice for people with balance problems and/or limited use of their legs. You can also use a manual wheelchair both inside and outside the home. That said, you would need enough upper-body strength to propel the wheelchair by yourself.
Like a manual wheelchair, a power wheelchair is suitable for use inside and outside the home. This makes them suitable for those who need full-time mobility assistance.
Also, since you control a motorized wheelchair with a simple joystick, they are often the best choice for those who lack the physical strength to propel a manual wheelchair.
Mobility scooters are ideal for people without the strength to use a walking aid or manual wheelchair. Although, mobility scooters are only suitable for people who need part-time mobility assistance, as they aren’t designed for indoor use.
How to Buy a Wheelchair to Suit Your Needs
Now you know the main wheelchair options, here are some extra considerations to help you decide on the right mobility device for you:
Selecting a Manual Wheelchair
A manual wheelchair can provide those with balance problems or limited mobility with the freedom to continue daily activities. There are many different pros and cons of a manual wheelchair.
If you’re looking for a portable, cost-effective wheelchair, this could be the best option. Manual wheelchairs are lightweight and foldable, making them easy to transport. They’re also less expensive and come with low maintenance costs. As such, they’re often a more affordable option than motorized wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
If you want a greater range of movement, you might consider a manual standing wheelchair. With a simple switch, these can help you reach an upright position, giving you more independence inside and outside the home.
Although experienced wheelchair users can make it look easy to maneuver a manual wheelchair, it takes time and practice to master this skill. Plus, you need good upper body strength and stamina to propel yourself in a manual wheelchair, especially over long distances and up hills.
That said, with more innovations in mobility devices each year, it’s now possible to buy wheelchair attachments that can make going long distances easier.
Alternatively, if you need a portable wheelchair, and only travel with your caregiver, you may prefer a transit or transport wheelchair.
Selecting a Power Wheelchair
A power wheelchair is the ultimate mobility aid. Although, just like with the manual chair, there are some of pros and cons of a motorized wheelchair:
As battery-operated versions of manual wheelchairs, power chairs enable even those with severe mobility restrictions to enjoy complete freedom and independence.
Power wheelchairs operate well on a variety of surfaces, both inside and outside the home. The joystick function makes much them easier to steer and maneuver than manual wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Since they don’t have the obstruction of a mobility scooter, you can pull right up to counters and desks without problems, and complete 360-degree turns with ease.
Power wheelchairs are also comfortable, making them ideal for full-time use if necessary. Although, if you have a specific condition that requires an adaptive power wheelchair, a complex rehab wheelchair might be more suitable.
Power wheelchairs are more expensive than manual wheelchairs and need more maintenance. Because they aren’t foldable, they are difficult to transport without a ramp or lift. You also need to charge the battery on a regular basis to ensure the wheelchair is operable when you need it.
Selecting a Mobility Scooter
A mobility scooter is a good option for those with mild mobility issues who need help when getting around outside. Again, there are certain advantages and disadvantages in going with a mobility scooter.
Mobility scooters have handlebars that you use to steer in the same way as you would steer a bicycle. However, because they have a motor, you don’t need the stamina and strength needed to use a manual wheelchair.
While mobility scooters are easy to operate, you need full upper-body usage to steer them. Due to the frontal obstruction of the handlebars, you cannot pull mobility scooters right up to desks and counters. They need a lot of space to maneuver, which means they are only suitable for outdoor use.
Get the Perfect Fit
As well as choosing the right style wheelchair, it’s crucial that it meets your expectations when it comes to comfort, fit, and operation.
Our trained professionals and consultants are experts in mobility, with experience working with patients, as well as their families, doctors, and therapists. From seating assessments to equipment trials, we do our utmost to ensure our customers in North Carolina and South Carolina get the perfect fit for their needs.
After all, what might seem like the right choice, in theory, might be more difficult to operate than you had anticipated. We also provide full training with all mobility devices, ensuring that our customers and their caregivers can use and maintain their mobility devices safely.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Wheelchair
If you’ve decided to buy a wheelchair, it’s vital that you know what your choices are when it comes to deciding on the right style for you.
Whichever one of these mobility devices you choose, it will boost your independence and quality of life immensely.
For more information on our full range of mobility devices, feel free to contact us today!