What wheelchair is right for me?
Wheelchairs are far more than just a means of transport. Whether you are a part time or full-time wheelchair user, there are things that need to be done to make sure that your wheelchair is going to suit your individual needs. In a real sense, a wheelchair is an extension of the user’s body so it is important that a wheelchair must match the needs and environments you are using it for.
How to choose your wheelchair?
An experienced and well-trained Occupational Therapist (OT) can help you find the right match by following these steps.
- Individual interview and assessment: This includes an interview to determine what you need your wheelchair to do, review of the home environment and areas frequently visited to ensure that the wheelchair will be suitable for all (including transport needs).
- Hands on assessment: An OT needs to know what your body needs… Can we improve your sitting posture? Do you need extra supports or cushioning? How strong are your arms? There are so many areas to consider about how you sit and use your wheelchair.
- Body measurements: You wouldn’t want to wear shoes that are too big or jeans that are too small. Just like clothes and shoes, wheelchairs come in different shapes and sizes to accommodate the individual. Our OT’s will conduct a variety of measurements to ensure that they can get the right fit for you.
- Manual or Electric: How much assistance do you need to move around in your wheelchair? Do you need it to tilt or lift to enable you to function in your daily life?
- Pressure Management: A high percentage of wheelchair users experience skin breakdown and pressure pain / injury. One of our priorities when helping you select the right wheelchair is to prevent the development of sitting acquired pressure injuries. Read more about pressure management here >
- Trial of equipment: You wouldn’t want to buy a car without test driving it first! The same rule applies for a wheelchair. You need to know that it is going to fit to your body, to know that it can move around the areas you need it to, to know that you can manoeuvre it up ramps and driveways, and that it is comfortable for you to use.
Where to get your wheelchair?
Once all these steps have been followed, your OT will work with one of the many local suppliers to arrange for your chosen wheelchair to be made, delivered and set up for you. Your OT will be there to review the chair with you to ensure it is correct and comfy in meeting your needs. Your OT will also teach you or your carer important skills for using your new wheelchair to ensure that you are as safe and independent as possible.
Remember, wheelchairs are not one size fits all. Every wheelchair user’s body and needs can change over time and new technology is always available.
Need to know more?
If you are needing a first-time wheelchair, or looking to replace existing equipment, our experienced Occupational Therapy team are here to help. Contact us today to discuss your wheelchair needs
via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us on 1300 729 190 and we will be happy to help!
Author: Donna Joosten
More about the author… Donna is an Occupational Therapist and Manager of SSRG’s Occupational Therapy Team. Donna has worked extensively with neurological rehabilitation, particularly movement disorders and has completed training in physical and cognitive rehabilitation. Donna holds a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy as well as qualifications in Business and Music