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Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Right Wheelchair

Wheelchairs are a great option for people with mobility issues, since they are transportable and easy to use. Our wheelchair buying guide offers insight into the buying process and how to decide if a wheelchair is right for you.

Do I need a Wheelchair?

There are many reasons someone might need a wheelchair. For example, a wheelchair can benefit those:

  • Who have trouble or are unable to walk
  • Who are in a lot of pain while walking
  • Who tire easily while walking long distances
  • With musculoskeletal issues
  • With injuries to the legs or feet
  • With balance or gait problems
  • With neurological problems

It’s also important to note that plenty of people are part-time wheelchair users and only use theirs on ‘bad days’ or in situations where they have to stand for long periods or walk long distances.

If you think you may need to use a wheelchair, take into consideration how much you struggle with everyday tasks. If your pain or fatigue makes daily living difficult and keeps you from enjoying things you enjoy, you may find a wheelchair helpful.

3 Signs You or Your Loved One May Be Ready for a Mobility Aid >

What to Consider when Choosing a Wheelchair

There are many factors to keep in mind when getting a new wheelchair, such as your needs, condition, and lifestyle.

Consider the following so that you can find the best wheelchair for you.

  1. Measurements
    It’s important to consider your body measurements so that every part of the wheelchair you choose, from the seat to the leg rests, is comfortable and safe for you. Our “Measuring for Your Wheelchair” section of this guide goes into detailed explanation.
  2. Weight
    Not all wheelchairs can support the same amount of weight, so make sure to take your weight and the weight capacity of each chair into account. In some cases, a bariatric chair or one made of more heavy-duty materials will be safer.
  3. Frequency of Use
    Whether a fulltime or part-time wheelchair user, your frequency of use can also affect which wheelchair you may choose. Part-time users may only need a standard manual chair or a transport chair.
  4. Travel
    If you travel often, a transport chair may be a great addition to a standard or power wheelchair. This will give you a lighter, more portable mobility aid when you need it.
  5. Type of Car
    The type of car you will be transported in can also impact your choice. You will want a wheelchair that can easily fit inside either the vehicle or the trunk.
  6. Outdoor Use
    If you plan on frequently using your wheelchair on different terrains, you may want a chair made with more heavy-duty wheels and materials.

Measuring for Your Wheelchair

There are some measurements you will want to keep in mind when choosing a wheelchair. We’ll go through how to measure to find the right wheelchair for you:

  • Overall width
  • Dimensions of the seat
  • Height of the back
  • Seat to floor height

Overall Width

Make sure that the wheelchair you choose can fit through all the necessary hallways. To do this, measure the most narrow passageway locations, such as your home or workplace.

Make sure your wheelchair’s width is less than this measurement by at least an inch so you can pass through safely. If an overall width is not listed in the wheelchair description, it is typically determined by adding 8 inches to the wheelchair’s seat width.

  • Dimensions of the seat
    You want your wheelchair’s seat to have enough space for you to sit comfortably and safely.To find the seat width, measure the width of your backside when sitting on a flat surface. Add two inches to this measurement to make the chair more comfortable. To find the ideal seat depth, measure your pelvis to the back of your knees when sitting straight and subtract two inches.A standard wheelchair will come in 16, 18 and 20-inch width options with a seat depth between 16 and 18 inches. Bariatric wheelchairs will have larger dimensions for greater accommodation. Your seats width and depth should be closest to the measurements of your backside and pelvis to knees.
  • Back Height
    To make sure you can sit back comfortably in your wheelchair, measure from the top of your shoulders to your pelvis in a seated position. Most back cushions are available in sizes between 16 to 20 inches.  Ideally you’ll want to choose one closest to this measurement.
  • Height of Seat to Floor
    The correct seat to floor height will place your feet at a comfortable distance from the floor without causing them to drag. To find this measurement, you will want to measure the length of your lower leg, from the back of your knee to the bottom of your feet.Your seat to floor height should be about two inches more than the above measurement.

If you plan on moving with your feet, your seat to floor height should be lower than this measurement. Some wheelchairs allow you to adjust the seat to floor height to accommodate shorter users or those moving with their feet.

Seating and Positioning

Sitting in a wheelchair for longer periods of time may become uncomfortable. By shifting your body to avoid this pain you can inadvertently cause further injury. It’s very important for you to sit with the correct posture.

To sit in your wheelchair correctly, sit back in the chair to distribute your weight on your thighs and buttocks evenly. Keep your shoulders back and avoid slumping or leaning to one side. Support your arms and feet with arm and leg rests.

If you are unable to hold this position comfortably consistently, your measurements may not be correct.

If your wheelchair’s measurements are correct, you may need a back or seat cushion. Cushions can often help you stay seated in this correct position comfortably, while also preventing injury.

Have Questions or Want to Learn More?

A wheelchair can be a great option for many people – they are affordable, reliable, and provide excellent support in a comfortable manner.

If you would like to purchase a wheelchair or if you’d like more information, please reach out to Renmar. Our team is more than happy to answer your questions and help in any way they can!

Wheel Chair

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