It can feel difficult to choose the right lightweight wheelchair for your needs, with so many on offer. In this article we will explain:
– How a lightweight wheelchair can benefit you
– What types of wheelchairs are available
– How to choose the best wheelchair
Wheelchairs were first invented in the 1700s. Since then they have diversified greatly, with so many options now available for people with reduced mobility. In this article we will explain how you can choose the best wheelchair for you.
Wheelchairs offer support for people with a range of disabilities, mobility issues and illnesses. They can be a short-term stopgap, or a long-term solution. This means they are suitable for a range of different individuals with varying needs, including:
– Elderly people requiring mobility support when out and about
– Individuals with disabilities or mobility issues who are unable to walk, or cannot walk long distances
– Individuals recovering from illness needing short-term or long-term rehabilitation
You may be reading this article because you have been advised by a healthcare professional that you may need a wheelchair. Perhaps family and friends have suggested it. Even if you feel you don’t need a wheelchair, it may be incredibly beneficial to you. Often people who don’t want to use a wheelchair find it significantly enhances their quality of life in surprising ways.
Wheelchairs were once incredibly heavy, difficult to manoeuvre and clunky. This meant they weren’t easy to store, lift and couldn’t be folded up, transported or used as frequently. Now most wheelchair models are lightweight – but some more so than others. These are specifically designed to be portable and easy to use for all parties. This may be appropriate if your carer or the person looking after you is quite frail themselves. They’re also handy when out and about, as they can easily be folded up and lifted into and out of vehicles or carried when they are not in use.
Wheelchairs offer a variety of benefits for people with reduced mobility – some obvious, some less well known. Predominantly they offer independence, freedom, flexibility and opportunity. They can also prevent further injury and alleviate pain.
Although there is a stigma for some surrounding wheelchair use, they offer multiple benefits for users. Most of all they can dramatically improve independence, which in turn has a positive impact on mental and physical wellbeing. They can aid or speed up recovery from illness or a physical accident or operation. As wheelchairs come in lots of different shapes, sizes and specifications there is a model to suit every requirement.
When deciding which wheelchair is best for your needs it’s important to take several aspects into consideration. This will help you to make a sound decision that pays dividends both now and in the future.
1) Wheelchair price and budget: Wheelchair price will naturally influence your decision, too. It’s important to balance budget with quality – achieving the best possible value for money rather than acquiring the cheapest or most expensive model. Wheelchair price can vary greatly – especially between high street and online retailers. Online retailers tend to be cheaper – but its best to try out the models you’ve shortlisted in person before you purchase.
2) Your needs – now: Once you’ve determined how much you have to spend, you’ll need to consider your immediate needs. How will a wheelchair benefit you right now? Will it help you to do shopping on your own? Cut down on care costs? Enjoy a better quality of life? Socialise more? How will it enhance your life? Then practically-speaking ask yourself what it will need to do and feature to help you to fulfil your needs.
If you need a speedy way to get to the shops, a motorised scooter or power wheelchair may be best. If comfort is important to you an ergonomic or customised wheelchair featuring foam cushions and suspension could be perfect for you. If you need help with this speak to family and friends, or consult with your general practitioner, healthcare professional, specialist or social worker.
3) Your needs – in the future: Once your immediate needs are covered it’s time to think about your future prognosis. If your condition is likely to worsen, will this wheelchair stand the test of time? You don’t want to have to go through the costly and stressful process of replacing or changing your wheelchair at a later date, so it’s a good idea to be sure that your choice will provide adequate support for years to come.
4) Lifestyle – Wheelchair categories cater both to the needs of the individual, and their lifestyle. It might be useful to make a list of the things you like to do, and the activities a wheelchair would help you to enjoy. If you lead a very active lifestyle, you’ll need a different type of wheelchair compared with someone who spends most of their time indoors.
5) Preferences – Your personal preferences are important and should be taken into account during the decision-making process. For example, you may prefer to maintain full independence with a self-propelled wheelchair. Maybe a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair is best for you. Perhaps you’d prefer a hybrid frame wheelchair for now. Match up your needs with your preferences to try and strike a balance between them for the best of both worlds.
The price of a wheelchair can vary greatly, from about £50 to over a thousand pounds for the more sophisticated and lightweight models.
We find that the best value wheelchairs are found in Amazon. Please click here to see a range of the latest lightweight wheelchairs that are available.
There are now many types of wheelchairs available many of which are self-propelled wheelchairs. This is great news for the significant percentage of our population who live with limited mobility or disability. But it can also make the decision process confusing and difficult.
It’s a good idea to understand the types of wheelchair available, as this enables you to make an informed decision. Once you’ve gathered a clear picture of your needs and preferences, a list of wheelchair types is a good place to start. You can then use the characteristics to match the right model with your criteria. There are now many categories and models to choose from – here we’ve selected eight of the most common types of wheelchair for you to consider.
1) Power wheelchair: Power wheelchairs are a special kind of electric wheelchair also known as ‘power chairs’ or ‘motorised wheelchairs.’ They require no manual propulsion and can be used both indoors and outdoors. This means they’re incredibly versatile and are useful for individuals with complex care needs, advanced disabilities and very low mobility.
2) Transit wheelchair: Transit wheelchairs, also known as transport chairs, are small, portable, light wheelchairs with small wheels. These are best suited to short trips and days out – and are commonly used by the elderly and in hospitals and healthcare establishments. They are often ultra light weight and portable.
3) Recliner wheelchair: Recliner wheelchairs or ‘tilt wheelchairs’ offer maximum comfort for people with severe disability or dramatically reduced mobility. Some recline partially, others fully. Headrests, art rests and foot plates are often detachable. Often ergonomic seating and comfort padding to protect against bed sores.
4) Hybrid wheelchair: Hybrid wheelchairs are a fantastic option for anyone new to wheelchairs, transitioning between a walking frame or cane and seated mobility aid. They can be used in multiple ways and are incredibly versatile – often they can be folded and feature storage baskets and adaptations.
5) Bariatric wheelchair: Obesity is becoming an increasingly difficult issue in the Western world – and for those with mobility problems or health issues it can be difficult to maintain a healthy weight. For individuals classed as medically obese specialist wheelchairs are required, to ensure maximum comfort, support and safety. These wheelchairs incorporate heavy-duty steel and specialist padding.
6) Ergonomic wheelchair: ‘Ergonomic’ means ‘efficiency and comfort’. Ergonomic wheelchairs are specifically designed to ensure maximum support, with moulded backrests and head rests, lightweight aluminium frames and memory foam or air flow comfort padding. This allows weight to be distributed evenly.
7) Active/sports chairs: Some types of wheelchairs are specially adapted for sports and activities. These are generally only used during these activities and are not designed for everyday use.
Most wheelchair models can also be customised. If you have specific needs it is important to speak with retailers and manufacturers if you can’t find what you are looking for. They should be able to help you find a solution that perfectly fits your needs.
Looking for quality wheelchairs and mobility aids? You can find branded ranges in our specialist online shop here.
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