Buying a wheelchair is an important decision and not one that should be taken lightly. Wheelchairs are special items because the wrong one can cause discomfort for you every time it’s used. You have the option of power and manual wheelchairs; both are viable solutions, but they divide opinion, nonetheless. It’s not an entirely simple decision either as there are many aspects to consider. You not only have to think about what’s suitable for you now, but what’s also be right in the upcoming years. So, should you buy power or a manual wheelchair?
Understand Your Clinical Requirements
Firstly, you must understand your current – and any potential future – clinical needs. This is often dismissed and it’s easy to do so as your only focus is on the now, rather than several months down the line. It is crucial to take a few moments to think about your current clinical requirements; what reason do you have for a wheelchair, and what sort of assistance will you need? For instance, you have issues with your right leg. It’s a minor issue and one that’ll heal within the next few months. In this case, it is likely a manual wheelchair would be more suitable as you’re ably bodied.
On the other hand, progressive conditions could make it difficult to use a manual wheelchair unassisted. For example, you are close to seventy-five and you have several health complaints. Your balance is unsteady and has arthritis in your legs, feet, and hands that can be quite painful. You find it difficult to hold a teacup. A power or electric wheelchair is the more sensible solution since you don’t need to manually wheel the chair. Even if you’re able to do so now, that could change in the very near future. That’s why you must consider your clinical needs on a long-term basis.
Active Lifestyles or Quiet Home Bugs?
Whether you go to bingo every night, travel frequently, or prefer to stay closer to home, you must take them into consideration when buying a wheelchair. While you mightn’t think your lifestyle determines what wheelchair you buy, it does have an impact. For example, you love to travel, and you frequently visit your grandchildren who live four hours away. Once every month, you drive down with your husband. The wheelchair needs to be foldable and light enough for your husband to pack away in the trunk of the car. It also needs to be strong enough to hold you.
On the other hand, your family lives ten minutes away. Local shops and amenities are close by, and you don’t often go out alone. Your husband is a fit guy, and he usually accompanies you while out. It could be a good idea to opt for a manual wheelchair. It is certainly less expensive than a powered wheelchair and may be more convenient for your current situation.
How Much Strength You Have?
Let’s be honest, there are times when you are physically fit but just don’t have the strength to propel yourself in a manual wheelchair. It is not easy, whether you are eighteen or eighty. Sometimes, you just haven’t got the ability to wheel yourself around for prolonged periods. It is incredibly tough and that is something you must take into consideration. For example, you are forty-five. You have had trouble with your lower legs for the last ten years. You buy a manual wheelchair for when you’re outdoors, getting to the shops, and when you are at work.
Wheeling yourself for more than say fifteen minutes can be an enormous strain on your arms and wrists. It isn’t easy and then there is trying to manually maneuver yourself in and out of shops. While manual wheelchairs seem the simpler choice, they take a lot of work. Power wheelchairs don’t require manual input from you or anyone pushing you, and sometimes, that can be easier in certain circumstances.
Confidence in Your Abilities
It is important to consider how confident you are in a wheelchair. For instance, you have used a wheelchair for several weeks now, but are wary about traffic. You have been manually wheeling yourself to the local shops and come to a busy intersection. Your arms are somewhat tired and feel very unsure about making it across the road on your own in time. When you lack confidence in your abilities, it can make you very unsure and may even cause you to avoid going to the shops. With an electric wheelchair, you push the operational buttons, and it does it for you. This might make you feel more confident while out.
Top Benefits of Choosing a Power Wheelchair
There are many advantages of choosing an electric or power wheelchair. Those include:
- Greater Choice of Controls, Including Touchpads and Joysticks.
- Can Handle Rockier Terrain Without Extra Assistance.
- Easier On Your Arms and Hands.
- Ideal If You Lack Stamina.
- Greater Comfort with Arm and Leg Rests, Recline Features, All Customized to Your Requirements.
Remember, it takes a lot of strength to manually propel yourself with a wheelchair and it could be too much for you. It could also impact how independent you are. With a power wheelchair, you can easily use a joystick or touchpad to control it. You can have more freedom to get out and attend local church meetings and go about your daily lives as you’d like.
The Benefits of a Manual Wheelchair
There are also many advantages of a manual wheelchair. Those include:
- Easier to Transport
- Great if You Want to Spend Less
- Less Maintenance is Necessary
Of course, manual takes more strength but can be far more cost-effective. Sometimes, it really comes down to what is best for you and your current lifestyle. For example, you prefer to stay close to home. Your family is in the same town as you and can easily get to their homes within half an hour. You have a tight budget and rely on public transport to get to and from shops and work. Since manual wheelchairs are slightly less bulky than power ones, it can be easier to opt for a manual chair. Again, it depends on your current circumstances.
See the Whole Picture
It’s easy to dismiss manual wheelchairs, especially when you don’t have a lot of upper arm strength or stamina. That doesn’t mean to say they should be dismissed entirely. It is about you; your current clinical requirements, your needs, and what is best for you in the short and long term. You must look at every aspect of electric and manual wheelchairs to find the one that is best for you today, tomorrow, and next year. Take your time and find the right wheelchair for you.
About the author:
Trevor James is the founder and owner of Mobility Paradise, a one-stop-shop for mobility scooters, electric scooters, electric wheelchairs, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, lift chairs, saunas, steam showers, massage tables, exercise equipment, electric bikes, massage chairs, and bathtubs. Years ago, Trevor’s grandma had an accident that made her dependent on a wheelchair; this forced Trevor and his family to put her into an elderly care facility. Since then, Trevor would visit her to take a walk around the neighborhood. Mobility Paradise was created because Trevor couldn’t find an online store that offers a wide selection of mobility equipment and educational resources. What started as a business focusing on mobility scooters grew to include all kinds of mobility products. You can shop for the most reliable mobility products at Mobility Paradise.