Read these 30 Wheelchair Guide Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Wheelchairs tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you're considering a manual wheelchair, you'll want to know what the advantages of getting one are. Here's our list of what's good about the manual wheelchair:
Getting a used wheelchair doesn't necessarily mean you're not getting an old piece of equipment. In fact, it means you could receive some substantial cost savings on a quality product. However, with any used item, you'll have to do some double-checking so that you know what you end up buying. Here are some pointers to help you out when you're buying a used wheelchair.
Some wheelchair users may prefer or need a power wheelchair. There are several advantages to owning a power wheelchair for those who need or want a little extra mobility assistance.
If you're looking for wheelchair carriers to transport your wheelchair, you have several options to choose from:
Electric Wheelchair Carrier – The electric wheelchair carrier does the work for you by using an electric motor to lift, fold, and place the wheelchair into a compartment on top of your vehicle.
Bumper Mounted Wheelchair Carrier – More affordable than the electric wheelchair carrier, the bumper mounted wheelchair carrier attaches to the rear of your vehicle and can be used with a wheelchair cover to transport your wheelchair.
Hitch Mounted Wheelchair Carrier – The hitch mounted wheelchair carrier is a mid-range priced wheelchair carrier. These wheelchair carriers attach to a standard trailer hitch and allow you to place your wheelchair on a platform for secure storage.
Pick-up Wheelchair Carrier – A pick-up wheelchair carrier works with pick-up trucks and uses an electric lift to bring your wheelchair onto the bed of your pick-up truck.
Making the decision on which wheelchair to get isn't always an easy one. Before you even decide on a specific model, you have to know what type of wheelchair to get. Take a look some of the basics on manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and scooters.
Wheelchair rentals are convenient for instances of travel or cases where you need a wheelchair on a temporary basis. Although renting a wheelchair is a temporary situation, you will need to make some considerations. Take a look at our tidbits for when you need wheelchair rentals.
Wheelchair manufacturers do offer a product for a niche market that the big names might not. However, you will encounter some disadvantages to shopping with the smaller wheelchair manufacturers. Here are some of the downsides:
Smaller wheelchair manufacturers aren't like the well-known wheelchair manufacturers in that they don't have the marketing dollars to advertise their products. However, buying from an unknown company doesn't mean you won't find a quality wheelchair. Here are five good things about the smaller wheelchair manufacturers if you're considering purchasing a product from them.
Choosing a wheelchair, like any other specialized piece of equipment, will require some in depth researching on your part. Before you purchase a wheelchair from any dealer, make sure you investigate the wheelchair manufacturers before you buy. Take a look at our guide to discerning between the larger wheelchair manufacturers.
You have to navigate the Washington Mall or the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport or the Appian Way...you're in for a long day's journey into night. You need a Sunrise Medical wheel chair, or a chair from one of the other wheel chair brands such as an Invacare wheel chair, that's built for stamina. Sunrise Medical is one of the oldest firms, and it's hard to argue with history.
The light Guardian Microlite Ruby can go the distance. Whether you're on that scenic tour into Rome, and all roads and wheelchairs lead there, or that Greyhound bus tour or airport dash, you can charge your chair through the joystick or the battery to keep on truckin'.
Don't forget the Microlite Garnet, a lightweight scooter that can also cruise along the base of the Great Wall of China. With a Sunrise Medical wheel chair, you can broaden your horizons and keep going till you're ready to stop for sushi in Tokyo. Finding wheelchair brands that you like and trust is a good feeling.
The last thing you need to worry about on your vacation abroad is wheelchair accessibility or wheelchair rentals if you're a part-time wheel chair user. You should be more concerned with:
• State Department advisories
• Brushing up on your Russian
• Packing suntan lotion
• Choosing a bikini
• Learning how to pick up cute locals in several languages
Luckily, you don't have to be concerned with wheel chairs on your trip. Or with the language barrier--tour guides on accessible tours are fluent in several tongues. But what are your travel options? Wheelchairs are welcome and wheelchair rentals are there for the asking in:
• South America
• Middle East (isn't this supposed to be a relaxing trip?)
• South African safaris (who's faster in your power chair, you or the gazelle?)
• Asia (don't forget to remove your shoes in Japan and don't touch someone's head in Thailand)
Many of these trips are available through groups that cater to people in wheelchairs if you're not ready to travel on your own and need extra assistance.
Whether you're traveling solo or with a group, remember as your guide or the locals give you a hand that the most important things to remember, in any language and any country, are "Please" and "Thank You."
Beauty pageants—excuse us, scholarship competitions—get more elaborate every year. There are Miss and Ms. Wheelchair competitions and now it seems they have their own line of wheelchairs as well. Introducing the Miss Wheelchair brand, weighing 35 pounds, 20 inches tall, can carry up to 250 pounds! She wants to be a neurosurgeon and likes to crochet.
We're joking, there is no official Ms. Wheelchair America wheelchair brand. Contestants use wheel chair brands from a variety of wheelchair manufacturers, the top in the business, including:
• Quickie Sunrise Medical Wheel Chair
• Electric Jazzy Wheelchair
• Invacare Wheel Chair
And, although the Miss Universe and Miss America pageants swear, as does Donald Trump, that pageants are just scholarship competitions, the Ms. Wheelchair competition truly isn't a beauty pageant. That said, the winners are truly beautiful people. Maybe an official Miss Wheelchair brand isn't a far-fetched idea. How about a Junior Miss Wheelchair line for the winners of tomorrow?
You and Michael J. Fox have something in common finally: You have Parkinson's Disease, and you're already wobbling when you walk. You try to maintain your independence, but you never know what Parkinson's will do to you next, your doctor doesn't even know. Your family and friends suggest a wheelchair.
You've gone online to the Parkinson's Resource Organization (http://www.parkinsonsresource.org/) and checked out all the pointers on the various Web sites. You know to wear good shoes with proper support and do walking exercises. You use a cane or walker. But are your friends and family correct—do you need a wheel chair?
You may need a wheelchair if:
• You're more easily thrown off balance than you used to be.
• You can't walk unassisted for fear of falling.
• You have difficulty with motor control.
Parkinson's is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that still has no cure but plenty of promising therapies. Until there is a cure, you want to live as independently as possible. You're not ready for wheelchairs, even power wheelchairs or scooters with large grips that you can still control.
A rollator can support you, providing a barrier to slow you down and halt a fall before it happens. You can maintain your independence pushing a rollator. Also, a rollator brakes, since Parkinson's makes you want to walk faster and faster to catch up with everyone.
With the right aids to help your independence, you're still you. Maybe you don't need wheel chairs just yet. Keep on walking. As another great philosopher, Abraham Lincoln, said, "I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards." Or wheelchaired backwards for that matter.
You're not looking forward to the hour-and-a-half wait time at the airport, especially since you'll be in line at the ticker counter and Homeland Security checkpoints. Barely enough time to head to the restroom or browse the duty-free shop.
If you're in a wheel chair, you probably can speed things up if you call ahead—but get there one and a half to two hours ahead of boarding time anyway. Be sure to let the travel agent or airline reservations agent know:
• Whether you need your wheelchair all the time or just to get on the plane
• Whether you'll be bringing an IV bag and pole (that can set off the metal detector).
• That you want a flight with 30 seats or more--try to avoid prop planes.
• That you need boarding assistance and aisle chair as well as a seat designated for people in wheel chairs.
• That you'll be passing through security with gel batteries or wet batteries (check with airport screeners to make sure you're not violating HAZMAT regulations or bringing flammable/toxic items on board).
If you pack everything securely and label your equipment with instructions and name and address tags, and if you charge ahead of the other passengers to store your wheelchair (just kidding), you'll ensure a smoother flight. Get your wheelchair stored early as there is usually room for at least one. Sit back and enjoy your flight.
Your arms and legs are sore—admittedly you've been at the computer all day. You've also been in your wheelchair and, although the back and seat are comfortable, you're considering tossing the wheelchair into the computer. Darn this pain, and darn this prospectus you're writing for investors. While you can't do anything right now about P/E ratios, you can change your footrests and armrests. Some tips:
• Make sure your wheelchair is the adjustable kind. If not, consider add-on foot plates.
• You can buy armrest cushions or covers for wheelchairs that support your arms and hands ergonomically.
• When working at the computer, adjust your armrests to desk and keyboard height.
• Buy ergonomic wrist rests for your desk to add support and decrease pressure.
• If you can, upgrade your stationary legrest, footrest or foot plate to a swinging one. Make sure you select the correct one for your wheel chair brand and model.
• Chaps for wheel chairs can add further cushioning for your feet, especially in bad weather—which can affect you even when you're not outside.
Now you can be comfortable while you're figuring out how to tell investors why your company didn't meet the quarterly earnings estimate.
"You can't come in!"
"You can't come in!"
You say this to your parents all the time. Eventually they'll barge in. Hey, they're doing their job, which is to keep you safe, and some kids that close the doors try to hide something from their parents. But you're not doing drugs and you don't play violent video games. All you want is some privacy. Your mom and dad may be bursting in because they're worried that you're OK (they read the guide to wheelchairs too many times). After all, your room wasn't designed for a wheelchair. The dressers are too high. The windows are too high. And, be honest, you're trying to stand up to open the windows, right? If you have a standing lift chair, you can do this more easily—maybe you can get a trade-in.
F you do plan on using a standing lift chair just remember to do some exercise to strengthen your muscles or that fall will be a doozy. You don't want your parents worrying all the time. You fall, you get back up, no problem (especially when you're rolling over that thick pile carpet in the rust color your mom bought and you hate).
And now after all that tearing around, redecorating and hollering you need a nap--you would never have admitted this when you were four. You crash in the beanbag chair. Not crash literally. But it's good for your back muscles to be out of wheelchairs, standing or sitting. Now your dad barges in, interrupting your sleep. Doesn't he know you're growing and need rest? But you smile at him anyway. It's not easy being a parent.
Other Sunrise Medical wheel chair brands? It's the Quickie or nothing else! There's no reasoning with fanatics, and wheel chair brands are fair game for an argument. But if you say that there isn't more than one Sunrise medical wheel chair brand, you lose. Sunrise Medical produces:
• Guardian power wheelchairs and scooters
• The ever-popular Quickie wheelchair
• Breezy wheelchairs
• Hoyer transport chairs and manual everyday wheelchairs
• Quickie's cousin, the Zippie
• For kids, the Mighty Lite Wheelchair by Kid Kart
How can you ever choose? If you're a kid, your choices are more obvious. Zip along on the Zippie, which tilts and rotates, or the Mighty Lite, which if you're a kid you've probably outgrown. For adults, we like the Guardian scooters and power wheelchairs, especially the Guardian Aspire, as streamlined as a Jazzy wheelchair, or the easy-to-transport Guardian Trek 3 or Trek 4 scooter. Quickie's manual wheelchairs maneuver easily and fit, say, in the back of a compact sports car such as a Volvo. Who knew finding wheelchair brands to suit you could be so simple?
Be sure to check with your wheelchair seller or the Sunrise Medical wheel chair Web site itself (www.sunrisemedical.com). Models such as the Chameleon have been discontinued. Still, you're a die-hard Quickie devotee, and that's not an enthusiasm that will fade in a quickie trip around the block.
The blue chlorine beckons. The lounge chair beckons. The summer bestseller/copy of ULYSSES calls your name. But first, you have to get to the pool.
While regular rigid or fold-up manual wheelchairs (and electric if they stay back from the pool's edge) will get you to the pool, you may not feel like showing up in your regular wheel chair.
You may have problems walking and only need a wheelchair for the pool. The Healthline Pool Wheelchair, waterproof and user-friendly, is an excellent alternative. It won't tip or skid, even when the kids are splashing or running poolside despite the blatant "No Running" signs. Plus, parking brakes ensure you won't make a fancier dive than you intended. So what are you waiting for? There's a lap lane with your name on it.
Your back is sore from being in the chair all day. You wish you could just recline, but you're far away from your Barcalounger. For would-be couch potatoes who deserve a break, wheelchair manufacturers offer tilt and recline wheelchairs.
Even Miss Wheelchair needs a respite from her queenly duties. She could choose our favorite models:
• Sunrise Medical wheel chair Quickie recliner
• Sunrise Medical wheel chair Guardian recliner
• Invacare wheel chair 9000 XTR recliner
Miss Wheelchair would, of course, want to make sure that whatever recliner she chooses, no matter which of the major wheel chair brands sponsors the pageant, that her recliner wheelchair has heavy-duty inner liners that keep the seat and back from stretching too much. The Invacare Tracer SX5R Recliner Wheelchair is a perfect choice.
Ahhh. Relax, put your feet up, lean back and enjoy the day at the rubber-chicken banquet or in your office cubicle where you're pretending to be Miss Wheelchair for the day.
Your cousin has that cottage in the country with the nearest neighbor thirty miles away—luckily, that neighbor is a speed demon if you need anything. You're ready to kick back and relax. Your wheelchair, however, may be another story.
On sloping country roads, winding woodland paths and the beach, all-terrain wheelchairs, like sport wheel chairs, can take anything the new scenery throws at them so you can enjoy the sights. Call ahead to your destination and see if you can rent a wheelchair in the town. If not, rent one and have it shipped. Some great all-terrain wheelchairs include:
• The Rolleez All-Terrain Chair from Healthline (includes a safety belt and umbrella)
• The Landeez All Terrain Chair
• Pride Hurricane PMV Mobility Scooter
• Pride Luxury Line Victory XL Scooter
• Pride Luxury Line Maxima Scooter
Just remember, as you would with your own wheelchair, keep your rentals clean and maintained, free from dust, dirt, sand, leaves and gravel. After all, you might just want to visit that neighbor and have a leisurely chat on the porch sipping lemonade. Then down to the beach for a beach party!
In "All About Eve," Bette Davis as Margo Channing says, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"
Nearly fifty years later, in another movie about exceeding your limits, "The Matrix," Joe Pantoliano as Cypher says to "buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye."
Cypher and Margo weren't in wheelchairs, but they remind us that inside the chair or out, life can be a bumpy night. Most manual wheelchairs and standing lifts don't require seatbelts, though you might want to purchase a lap belt. You'll most likely need seatbelts for:
• Power wheelchairs
• All-terrain wheel chairs
• Bumpy terrain
• Wheel chairs used as van seats
As you would in a plane or car, make sure your seatbelt or lap belt is fastened, especially if you're zipping along in a power wheelchair or scooter. You don't need to read a guide to wheelchairs to understand common sense! Listen to the movie greats and always obey the seatbelt law.
Though larger wheelchair manufacturers do come with a built-in reputation for making quality products, buying from them does come at a price – literally. If you want to know what the disadvantages are to buying from larger wheelchair manufacturers, read on:
The most important room in the house is also the one you may have the hardest time occupying—the bathroom. Depressed showers, narrow toilets, sinks that are too high.
If you can't move or don't want to move from your dream home—you weren't planning, after all, to be in a wheelchair—you can adapt. Some whiz-kid (pardon the bathroom humor) ideas for making your bathroom more wheel chair accessible:
• If your shower is wheelchair accessible, try a shower chair if you need assistance from an in-home health care worker or family member.
• If your shower has a drop, install a rubber threshold ramp—just be sure to dry it off so you don't slip.
• Wheel chairs are a temporary thing for you, and you're not about to widen your doorways. If you can walk, use a cane to get into the enclosed toilet.
• Install a pedestal sink if your wheelchair can't be adjusted and you can't see the mirror when you're doing your morning shave or facial scrub. Or choose a wheelchair with recline, tilt, and raise options. An inflated air cushion may also help.
• Sore from sitting too long? A toilet air cushion may help.
• Turn off your electric wheelchair when washing up--after all, water and electricity don't mix.
Now you can take forever in the bathroom because you're fixing your makeup, not because you're struggling to get to the commode.
You love the idea of the Jazzy wheelchair, but you're more accustomed to life in the slow lane. You wonder, does Pride Mobility offer a manual Jazzy wheelchair?
Sorry to disappoint. Quantum Rehab, one of Pride Mobility's family of wheel chair brands, furnishes manual wheelchairs. But the Jazzy wheelchair remains, well, jazzy, and you can still push a manual wheelchair under your own power.
While Quantum Rehab's Stylus model is a lightweight dynamo, you still want the Jazzy wheelchair. The Stylus has more options than your car's power steering, but still you miss the Jazzy design. You're in no hurry to need an electric wheelchair though, so you roll on.
If you need a scooter, however, to zip around and the manual wheelchair is tiring you out, you can hop a Go-Go Travel Scooter. Feels just like when you were a kid...it's love all over again. Sorry, Jazzy wheelchair...finding wheelchair brands to replace you wasn't as hard as I imagined it might be.
Everyone grouses about the big companies, but when we choose a wheelchair, we go for the big wheelchair manufacurers and wheel chair brands. Then we find that mom-and-pop company and we think, "Small business. I should support them." Even if you're Miss Wheelchair sponsored by the major wheel chair brands.
It's tempting to choose an Invacare wheel chair, Jazzy wheelchair, Sunrise Medical wheel chair, but many people have appreciated personalized service. Still, that doesn't mean the big wheelchair manufacturers are uncaring Big Business behemoths. In fact, there are several advantages to choosing recognized wheel chair brands:
• Parts more readily available away from home
• Multiple lines of products, with more options and accessories than you can think of
• Stable companies with ongoing research and healthy product sales to fund research
• Dealers have more experience repairing them, at home or on the road
• Will often refer customers to competitors if the manufacturer doesn't have the right chair
• Medicare is more likely to recognize them and cover major sellers/manufacturers
Still, small business, too, has that can-do spirit you cherish. Small business can give you a leg up or helping hand with these pluses:
• More time to spend on customer service and on individual needs
• May specialize in, say, scooters or transport chairs, or standing lifts for Parkinson's
• Local manufacturer may be more accessible, plus knows the market and the population
• Great if you want a custom chair
• Less money to spend on research but may be more experimental
• More options and more players mean more competition in the marketplace, which is better for you
Don't think you're contributing to the problem of Big Business (and what's so bad about big business anyway?) if you choose an Invacare wheel chair. After all, big and small companies have one thing in common: They want to help you preserve your independence and freedom of choice.
Before renting a wheelchair, The Wheelchair Site recommends that you consider what you will use the rented equipment for. Many wheelchair rental outlets will offer a variety of manual wheelchairs, powerchairs, all-terrain models, and motorized scooters to suit different needs.
Before you buy, do your research. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of specific wheelchair manufacturers, and about various types of wheelchairs, and which will best suit your needs. Wheelchair manufacturers provide models ranging from electric to manual wheelchairs, and from pediatric to all-terrain models.
Are you wondering about the current cost of a wheelchair carrier? TheWheelchairSite.com pegs the cost of wheelchair carriers between $350 and $1600 through online vendors. A bumper mounted wheelchair carrier tends to be more affordable; while motorized wheelchair carriers typically hit the top of that price range.
The Wheelchair Site recommends getting a used wheelchair for its affordability. Used wheelchair buyers should check for any existing warranties or to negotiate one with a vendor if possible. Unfortunately, if you're buying a used wheelchair from a private party, you don't have any warranty protection.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|