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So You Want to Buy an Electric, Power Wheelchair

Updated on August 21, 2015

You Want to Buy an Electric, Power Wheelchair?

There are pros and cons to buying an electric, power wheelchair for someone who needs one, in that there are times when a manual wheelchair wheelchair is good for the person using it in order to keep some muscle tone when pushing it along with their hands.

Still, this can get pretty exhausting after a relatively short time, so having a mobile or electric power wheelchair is a must for those times.

Another thing to take into account with power wheelchairs is they can be very heavy, and if you don't have wheelchair van and a wheelchair lift, you many not be able to load up the heavy wheelchair to be able to travel anywhere.

So having a manual, folding wheelchair is a good backup for times like those if you don't have the wheelchair lift to get the wheelchair and the person into the vehicle.

Get fitted for your power wheelchair

It would be a good idea to have your therapist and/or physician involved in choosing a wheelchair, in the sense of making sure it is the right fit for you or your loved one.

If someone needs a wheelchair, they will be in it most of their waking hours, and the right fit is imperative for comfort and being able to sit in it for a long period of time.

Weight considerations with a wheelchair

Wheelchairs come in almost infinite variety, including numerous brands, sizes and shapes. Prices can also be in the low thousands all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars.

With that in mind, one of the first things to think about when deciding on a power wheelchair is what the weight limit is. Be sure to know what the weight requirements are before going any further in your decision-making process, as the rest will be a moot point. 

Electric power wheelchair

Wheelchair heights

Another thing to be aware of is that many wheelchairs will come built for specific height and leg lengths, so that will also be vital in successfully choosing the right electric powered wheelchair.

You may also want to ask the providers of medical equipment if they are able to custom build a power wheelchair, as many times they are able to, and you can check if your insurance covers it or if you are able to afford it.

Customized wheelchairs are fantastic, and can really provide the ultimate in comfort for the circumstances you're in.

Power Wheelchair leg rests

If you've ever needed, seen or helped someone with or in a wheelchair, you know there are several types of leg rests used in different chairs.

There are fixed wheelchair leg rests, swing away types and elevating leg rests. You usually wouldn't want fixed legs on your electric power wheelchair unless you don't go out very much, as they are hard to work with when needing to get in and out of the chair. If you have a lot of space when you're transporting your wheelchair, that also lends itself to deciding to choose fixed leg rests.

When deciding whether you want to include swing-away leg rests as the ones for your wheelchair, what you need to know is your wheelchair will fit easier into compact spaces, as well as make it easier to get in and out of the chair for the user or those helping them.

Elevating electric power wheelchair leg rests are best for those with the inability or strong difficulty in raising their or bending their legs. 

I gotta get me one of these tank wheelchairs

Power wheelchair cushions

Just like an office chair, cushions for a power wheelchair can come in a variety of sizes and designs.

Anyone who will sit in a wheelchair for hours a day must have a good cushion to sit on in order to prevent pressure sores and a lot of discomfort.

Along with comfort and prevention of soars, a good cushion will also help support the individual sitting in the chair too, making even a better experience for them.

It's important to get feedback from the medical supplier who can get you the cushion that fits the need and body of the person sitting in the power wheelchair. 

Electric Power Wheelchair safety

All electric power wheelchairs are built with safety in mind, and a couple of things on the chair are especially important. Whatever we do, we shouldn't interfere with or attempt to change or modify our chairs by compromising the safety devices.

The first line of safety defense is the wheel locks. The purpose of a wheel lock isn't to secure the chair in a permanent, unmovable position, rather they're built to offer resistance when a user wants to remain stationary and movement could end up putting them in wrong positions. They should always be locked in place when someone is being transferred. If you've noticed the leg rests of electric power wheelchairs,

you'll have seen the footplates which can be flipped to keep them from interfering with getting in and out of the wheelchair.

Finally, a really important safety device for any electric power wheelchair is the anti-tipping mechanism which keeps the chair from tipping backwards when a person is sitting in it. They should never be tampered with or removed, or it could cause serious danger to the person in the chair, or possibly someone they may fall on. 

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