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Powered and Manual Wheelchairs - How to prepare for your first Wheelchair Purchase

Updated on July 7, 2009

Your first Wheelchair Purchase

If you would like to learn about powered and manual wheelchairs for yourself or a loved one, then you have come to the right place. As you keep reading, we’ll discuss the features and benefits of the powered wheelchair and the pros and cons of the manual wheelchair. By the time you’ve read to the end of this article, you will know which wheelchair is right for you.

Powered Wheelchair Guide

There are many powered wheelchairs to choose from, giving the person with mobility challenges a wide array of features and prices. The powered wheelchair is the first choice of most people. However, powered wheelchairs are very expensive and should only be chosen after extensive research.

The price of a powered wheelchair ranges from $500 to $30,000. Pricing depends on the added features. Medicare and other insurance companies may pay for a select group of people to have powered chairs if they meet certain conditions.

Those conditions include needing assistance with daily needs such as dressing, bathing and bathroom assistance. You must also be unable to use a manual chair, a cane or a walker. You will need to check with your particular health insurance to see if they will assist in paying for a powered wheelchair.

Safety and Portability for the Electric Wheelchair

The first thing to learn about a powered wheelchair is how to operate it safely, especially around children and the elderly.  You must be careful operating it outside on grass, gravel, or dirt.  Uneven ground with holes or dips must be carefully navigated.  Running into a hole can cause the chair to tip over and cause you injury.  It is not recommended that you operate a powered wheelchair over ice or snow.

Something else to consider is a powered wheelchair does not collapse so it won’t fit into the average car.  You may need to have access to a van equipped with a lift in order to transport a powered wheelchair.

If the user has very limited use of his or her hands, then the powered wheelchair will need to be customized to be operated with another body part.  A paraplegic may have to use the head or mouth to operate the powered wheelchair.

Manual Wheelchairs Explained

 The biggest consideration in choosing between a powered or manual wheelchair is the person’s physical ability to move the chair.  The manual wheelchair requires a decent amount of upper body strength to move the chair forward.  Also some doctors do not recommend that a person with a heart condition use a manual wheelchair because of the extra exertion.

The Pros

There are many benefits to using a manual wheelchair.  The biggest benefit is they are affordable.  You can purchase a manual wheelchair for as little as $110..00, however, if you will need the chair long-term or permanently, a more expensive chair would last longer.

This wheelchair is also an excellent choice for short term use.  It can be folded up to be placed in the trunk of a car.

The manual wheelchair helps the user maintain or build upper body strength and endurance.  It also requires very little maintenance.

The Cons

The manual wheelchair is harder to get around in than the powered wheelchair.  You may need assistance when trying to push the chair over grass, gravel or dirt.  If you don’t have the proper upper body strength to push the chair yourself, you will need someone to push you all of the time.

After reading this article you have come to know the advantages and disadvantages of the powered and manual wheelchair.  Use what you have learned to make the best decision for you.

What additional tips can you offer on Wheelchair purchasing?

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