There are many skills to learn if you recently have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. These range from being organized for doctor’s appointments to finding the best mobility assistance equipment. In today’s column, I will share my experience choosing a power wheelchair.
I got my current wheelchair seven years ago, and a new one is overdue. In today’s world, a power wheelchair that is at least seven years old is considered obsolete, meaning that parts are no longer made for it. It would be like driving a car from the 1950s. Everyone is focusing on new and better.
Yesterday, I got to test-run two power wheelchairs to choose which model would best suit my needs and lifestyle. Keep in mind that the chairs were not fitted for my body yet. A few physical therapists helped me to piece together a wheelchair that will support me. The final adjustments will be made after receiving my actual wheelchair.
The first step was to find a cushion seat that would be more comfortable and give my back more support. The cushion I have now is made of gel and has an indentation for my bottom. The indentation allows for too much room for my bottom to slide forward, causing me to slouch. The physical therapist let me try two different foam seats. One was firmer, which I knew would cause discomfort after a long period of sitting. The softer cushion was perfect and helped to improve my posture.
When test-driving the wheelchairs, my main concern was the suspension. My current Quantum wheelchair is lacking in that area, and when I’m out and about, uneven terrain can end up giving me a headache. Rough ground can also drain my energy quickly as I try to keep my body from rocking around. The rehab center I was at had some rough tile that was excellent for testing the full extent of the suspension in each of the power wheelchairs.
The first wheelchair I tried was from a company called Permobil. Although the suspension was far better than my Quantum, I found that I still was being thrown around a bit.
The second wheelchair, made by Quicky, jolted me up and down rather than side to side. This made the ride much smoother somehow. I could picture myself enjoying rolling down to Main Street by the beach where the sidewalks are mostly cobblestone.
If you’re like me and your house was made in the 1920s, I recommend getting a wheelchair with a single footplate. Swing away footrests tend to extend the overall width of the wheelchair which isn’t very compatible with those slimmer-than-average doorways. As you might have predicted, I went with the slimmer option.
I am 21 and will be 28 when I need my next wheelchair. I kept this in mind as I carefully chose which color I wanted on my new wheelchair. I had been told that silver shows the least amount of dust, so I went with a sparkly grey. Of all the options, I felt it suited me best.
By the end of this year, I should have my sparkly new wheelchair to drive around in. If you’re due for your first wheelchair or a new one, I hope you found this helpful.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.