What do I need to consider while looking for a wheelchair?
There are a number of factors to consider while looking for a wheelchair that not only make a difference to how comfortable you are but also help with practicality. Here are the main factors you should consider to help you choose the right wheelchair.
Your environment is one of the first things you should consider while looking for a wheelchair. Think about the following:
- Do you live in a hot or cold climate?
- What is the terrain around where you live like?
- Is it mostly paved or off-road?
These factors are vital to choosing a good wheelchair – if you need an outdoor wheelchair that works well on rough terrain but you choose a wheelchair with tyres suited to pavements then you will end up having problems in getting around.
Wheelchair users should decide exactly which environment they will be using their wheelchair in the most.
If you live in a location where it can get very cold, you should also think about the fact that you will frequently be wearing multiple layers and large clothing to stay warm, so you will need to account for this when choosing the size of your wheelchair.
Most wheelchairs will have features that are ideal for specific needs. These are dependant on the extent of the disability, the space available at home, the wheelchair user’s ability to transfer from the wheelchair to another seat and so on.
The first thing that you should consider is the space available at your home; if you don’t have much space then you may require a folding wheelchair or one that fits better in small spaces. Choosing whether to get a rigid or foldable frame for your wheelchair is a vital choice that you will need to make.
Some wheelchairs also have detachable armrests, leg rests or a lightweight chair so that they can easily be made smaller to access tight spaces. Ultralight wheelchairs are also great for those that have the ability to transfer out of their wheelchair and need to fold it up for travel in a vehicle. Lightweight wheelchairs are usually manual, while electric wheelchairs tend to be heavier in weight and less easy to transport.
Another factor you will need to think about in order to get the perfect wheelchair for you is your weight and size. The average seat width of a wheelchair is 18 inches, but this will differ depending on your size and the climate of your location.
The seat width, depth and height need to be comfortable and provide enough posture support to your body, which is why our team of experts perform a full assessment to decide the following:
- seat height
- backrest height
- front height
- wheelchair length
- seat length
- wheelchair width
- distance between castors
Your wheelchair size also depends on your lifestyle, where you live and whether you will be using a car or not.
Electric vs. Manual Wheelchairs
Another decision you will have to make while choosing a wheelchair is whether you would prefer a manual wheelchair or an electric wheelchair. Manual wheelchairs can come with a rigid frame or foldable chairs while power wheelchairs have a battery and usually take up more space.
Self-propelled wheelchairs, also known as standard manual wheelchairs, are best for those that have enough strength in their upper body to propel themselves. A manual wheelchair usually has larger back wheels and is great for those that are able to do things alone with more independence.
Powered wheelchairs on the other hand work well for those that don’t have much strength in their arms and upper body and require a wheelchair that can be moved with battery operated controls. A heavy-duty wheelchair that runs on the battery can have mobility limitations if you live in a smaller place.
Do I have to pay for my wheelchair?
Those with limited mobility may be able to obtain a wheelchair for free in Ireland if they have an HSE (Health Service Executive) medical card or are part of the HSE Long-Term Illness Scheme. With either of these residents are able to obtain a free wheelchair. Alternatively, there are many health insurance companies in Ireland that will allow you to reclaim the cost of wheelchairs or a mobility device but this will depend on your package and the insurance company you are with. You can find out more about wheelchair eligibility in Ireland here.
Shop wheelchairs online or in-person with Momentum Healthcare
At Momentum Healthcare we can provide a range of wheelchairs and mobility scooters to those living in Ireland. Whether you are looking for transport wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs, a lightweight wheelchair or a folding wheelchair – we can help! We have so many types of wheelchair options, both manual or electric, as well as other technical aids that are the ideal wheelchair accessory for you. Find out more about the wheelchairs we provide on our website here or get in touch with our friendly team on (056) 771 2394.