Self-propelled wheelchairs provide versatile support for individuals with a wide range of mobility issues. In this article we will cover:
– Who self-propelled wheelchairs are best suited to
– Types of self-propelled wheelchair
– Tips for finding the best lightweight self-propelled wheelchair
– Choosing a reputable mobility shop
Mobility issues needn’t stop you from getting out and about. There is now a diverse range of self-propelled wheelchairs on offer designed to suit a variety of needs. In this article we’ll share tips to help you to choose a self-propelled wheelchair along with specific advice on providers and aftercare.
‘Self-propelled’ refers to the type of mobility aid we most commonly think of when we hear the word ‘wheelchair’. They are also known as ‘manual wheelchairs.’ These are the types of wheelchair you push yourself, using your arms to propel the wheels forward.
The wheelchair can also be pushed – but it is specifically designed to be propelled by the user. Larger rear wheels are easier to push, and can navigate kerbs and slopes.
Often self-propelled wheelchairs are lightweight, easy to fold and transport. They are also very similar to transit wheelchairs. They provide valuable mobility support and independence for those unable to get out and about without assistance.
There are also lots of different types of self-propelled wheelchairs to choose from – we’ll cover these below.
Self-propelled wheelchairs are often the first port of call for anyone new to mobility products. Easy to lift and control, they provide a flexible long-term and short-term solution depending on your needs. Self-propelled wheelchairs are best suited to you if you are:
– In need of short-term relief following an operation or illness: Wheelchairs are not always a long-term requirement. Sometimes you may need a wheelchair for a shorter space of time – maybe a year or even a matter of months – to help you to continue to life a normal life.
It’s especially useful if you have had an operation or have received a prognosis of long-term recovery following injury or illness.
– In need of long-term mobility support: Before a wide range of wheelchairs were available many people with reduced mobility were forced to live a more sedentary lifestyle, unable to go out as often as they may like and enjoy enriching activities that others engage in on a daily basis.
Self-propelled wheelchairs provide an ideal solution for those in need of long-term mobility support and improved or maintained independence. Having a wheelchair could even reduce the cost of care, since it enables you to do more for yourself.
– You’re in need of temporary or ad-hoc mobility support: Many older people prefer to purchase a wheelchair as a ‘back up’ if they feel they may need it occasionally or in the future. Having a wheelchair as an option may open up more possibilities for you to enjoy your life – even if you can walk and often use a frame or a cane to help you to get about.
Wheelchairs enable you to go longer distances and experience locations that may otherwise not be possible for you to visit.
– Would like to become more independent: Perhaps you currently have a wheelchair that requires assistance – but you’d like to be able to go to the shops on your own. Self-propelled wheelchairs enable you to pop out when you please and navigate outdoor environments with ease.
– Have the strength to operate a wheelchair: Most self-propelled wheelchairs require strength in the arms and hands for smooth operation. If you struggle with weakness, muscle wastage, chronic pain or fatigue it may be better to consider an electric wheelchair.
– Looking for a solution to use outside the house: Most self-propelled wheelchairs are not suitable for use indoors, as they can’t take tight corners due to their larger wheel size. They are specifically designed for easy navigation up and down kerbs and on rougher terrain. Electric wheelchairs or power wheelchairs are best if you need something suitable for both indoors and outdoors.
There are many different types of self-propelled wheelchairs for sale to suit a variety of needs. This is great news, as it means there should be a model that’s perfect for you. Types of self-propelled wheelchairs for sale include:
– Lightweight self-propelled wheelchairs: Lightweight self-propelled wheelchairs provide a flexible solution for anyone who plans on going further afield. Easy to fold and lift, they’re versatile and simple to assemble and operate. They are best suited to flat, smooth terrain and shorter distances because of their lighter frame.
Lightweight self-propelled wheelchairs can also be a good secondary option, so you can use your standard wheelchair for everyday use, then switch when you go on holiday or out for the day.
– High activity self-propelled wheelchairs: These high activity lightweight wheelchairs are best suited to sporty users who like to get out and about on rougher terrain. These often feature extra comfort padding, easy folding and removable or interchangeable wheels. Thicker tyres and better grip makes them ideal for long walks and trips out.
– Comfort and high suspension wheelchairs: High comfort wheelchairs feature better suspension – ideal for users who struggle with pain and discomfort when using their wheelchair. Seats enhanced with air flow or gel padding and superior suspension eases the impact of bumps in the road for a more enjoyable experience whilst out and about.
– High specification wheelchairs: For those with more intensive care needs a high specification wheelchair may be appropriate. These usually feature a high head rest and ergonomic arm rests and foot plates. Also known as medical wheelchairs, they can often be tailored and adjusted specifically to your size and specification.
– Customised wheelchairs: Most wheelchair models support some level of customisation – others come with several packages or add-ons available to ensure maximum comfort and support. Customisation options available include different seat fabrics and materials, adjustable head rests, wheel sizes and more.
An alternative that you may want to consider are power wheeelchairs. They are generally electrified and don’t require the manual element that you get with self-propelled chairs.
With so many different options to choose from, the decision-making process can feel overwhelming. Wheelchairs cost between £200 and over £1,000 and should last for at least a year or more – so it’s important to make the right choice. There are a few things to bear in mind when choosing a self-propelled wheelchair including a lightweight self-propelled wheelchair:
– Budget: Before shopping, decide how much you have to spend. Remember that it’s better to invest in a wheelchair that is high quality and offers good value for money. Research different models that suit your needs first to ensure there’s something within your price range.
– Your mobility: What is your current level of mobility? What do you need the wheelchair for? Is it for getting out and about on occasion, or will you need it every day in a range of different scenarios? Answering these questions will help you decide on the type of wheelchair you’ll need and select a specification that suits you. Speak to your GP, specialist or social worker if you’re unsure.
– Your prognosis: Wheelchairs can be expensive – but they’re built to last. It’s important therefore to consider your future prognosis and choose a wheelchair that will support you and cater to your needs in the long term.
– Support needed: Will you always be able to (and want to) operate the wheelchair independently, or would you like the option of being assisted?
– Lifestyle and preference: If you pop down the shops occasionally you’ll need a completely different style of wheelchair compared with somebody who likes to go off-roading on a frequent basis. Maybe this is your second wheelchair and will be a specialist option for a sport or activity you enjoy.
– Size and weight: Determine which size of wheelchair will provide sufficient comfort for your needs. If you are very tall or overweight for example you may want to consider a larger chair.
– Storage: How will you store your wheelchair? Does it need to be foldable and easy to transport in a car? Consider the size of your home and where you’ll be keeping the wheelchair. If you’ll be going out often, ensure that it can be easily folded into your vehicle.
Lots of different shops now have self-propelled wheelchairs for sale – including pharmacies and furniture retailers. It’s better to opt for a specialist centre that has specific experience and expertise in wheelchairs and mobility products.
Budget is naturally an issue for many people needing mobility support – but beware of choosing a cheap self-propelled wheelchair. Instead look for value for money and quality over the lowest or highest price.
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