Tips to Choose Best Wheelchair or Scooter: Power or Manual for Mobility Needs, Rehabilitation, and Disability
Each day thousands of individuals begin to lose the ability to perform basic “Daily Living Task” due to disorders arising from injuries, diseases, surgeries or simple medical conditions that occur throughout one’s lifespan. Most often these individuals are left feeling dependent on others for basic homecare needs. When this occurs, the patient’s dignity and self respect become a very important factor and finding the best power wheelchair or scooter for mobility can restore a person’s independence.
Manual Wheelchair: Some people still may have enough upper body strength to self propel a manual wheelchair and can function quite well. In my opinion, as long as you can still move around under your own strength you should. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it”. Today’s manual wheelchairs are very easy to use. They come in various weights from standard manual wheelchairs which weigh around 40 lbs to ultra lightweight wheelchairs which weigh in the mid 20 lb range. These suit many different skill or strength levels. I always recommend asking your Doctor first to help determine your limitations. Once you’ve determined that a manual wheelchair is best for your needs, you should then find an experienced Home Medical Equipment provider that not only can sell you the appropriate wheelchair but can also maintain or repair it if the need arises.
Some people simply don’t have enough upper body strength to use any manual wheelchair regardless of the weight. Should they be confined to an immediate area? Does taking a trip become too difficult? Rehabilitating amputees, such as those who’ve served our country in war, should enjoy the freedom & independence they fought for. That’s where power mobility comes in. Finding the best power wheelchair allows individuals to regain their independence and can give them the freedom to go wherever and whenever they choose.
There may be some confusion in the power mobility industry in regards to Power Wheelchairs and Power Scooters. They are two totally different devices which serve two totally different needs.
Power Scooters Users: A power scooter is designed for someone who still has decent Hand-Eye coordination, but more importantly, has enough upper body strength along with the endurance level needed to sit upright with little support for extended periods of time. A scooter for mobility is best for someone who can still walk with limited assistance but tires or gets short of breath on longer distances.
Power Wheelchair User: On the other hand, Power Wheelchairs were designed for someone who still has the mental capacity to control the power wheelchair but has very limited physical ability. The Power Wheelchair user may or may not still be able to support their weight for 1 or 2 steps but not for much more than that. Today’s power wheelchairs (also known as motorized wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs or even Power Chairs) are not only more aesthetically pleasing than just a few years ago, but today they’re designed to deliver the perfect balance between indoor close-quarter maneuverability and outstanding outdoor performance.
With the recent expansion of power mobility and the increase of products that are available, it can be difficult to choose the right model that meets the demands of your particular needs.
Range: One concern many people have when looking for a Power Wheelchair or a Power Scooter is, “How far can I go before it runs out of power”? The answer is, in both cases, it depends on #1 the user’s weight, #2 whether you’re going uphill or downhill and #3 the age of the batteries. These are the major factors determining how long the batteries will last on a single charge. If you’re of average weight, on a level surface, fully charged, and have fairly new batteries, the average distance, on most basic scooters is approximately 10 - 12 miles. Power Wheelchair have bigger batteries (since the user will often spend most of their day in their power wheelchair) they can usually go an average distance of 20-25 miles on a full charge.
Many power scooters and even some power wheelchairs have built in, or a compact battery charger which you can take with you and plug into a regular wall outlet. If you go to your favorite coffee shop or the library, you can usually plug in (as many patrons do with their laptops) but just to be sure, you should ask for permission. You need not spend a long time charging, it can just be a little boost to make sure you can get home safely.
Maneuverability: Power Scooters are available in 3 or 4 wheel variety. The 3 wheel scooter is much more nimble than the 4 wheel style because the 4 wheeler has a wider wheelbase for added size, stability and comfort. If your main intent is to use it outside to go to the market, library or some other destination, the 4 wheeler may be a more comfortable ride. However, if the main use will be indoors in tighter areas, the 3 wheeler maneuverability can really amaze most users.
As for Power Wheelchairs, once you get the feel of the hand controller, you can usually spin on a dime and get around with the use of just one finger. The chair can be adjusted in so many ways; it ends up feeling like a total custom fit.
This article is some of the options now available in the Manual Wheelchair and Power Mobility market. Questions, or for more information, call Bruce Sandler at 818-832-4177 or visit us at www.WishingUWellMedical.com.