Buying a wheelchair isn’t like buying a car. For one thing, most people don’t give much thought to the differences between wheelchairs until they have to. For another, the choice is even more personal. The wheelchair you choose needs to be a perfect fit for your unique lifestyle and mobility situation.
If you’re having trouble getting around, buying a wheelchair is a great way to regain your independence, but for the first-time buyer, the sheer number of options available can be overwhelming—especially if you’re buying online!
Where do you start?
Start by asking yourself these four questions:
1. Power or manual?
Manual wheelchairs are great all-around choices. They’re affordable, durable, and easy to use. Power wheelchairs, while more expensive, propel you automatically, requiring much less effort on your part. Some people prefer to move around under their own power; others like the ease that comes from a power wheelchair. Start by asking yourself which option fits you better.
2. Who will push you?
If you choose a manual wheelchair, you’ll also have to decide who will provide the primary power—you or a friend or family member. Self-propel wheelchairs have large back wheels with push rims you can reach with your hands. Transport wheelchairs usually have smaller wheels in the back, which make them more maneuverable and easier to load into the back of a vehicle. Both types of wheelchair have a handle in the back, so if you do decide on a self-propel chair, you can still get help when you need it.
3. How often will you use it?
If you intend to spend long periods of time in your wheelchair, you might want to consider the heavier, but more comfortable options. If you only need your wheelchair for short trips, such as between your house and a car, a lightweight (though less comfortable) transport chair might be right for you.
4. How portable will you need it to be?
The weight of wheelchairs can vary widely. It depends on what they’re made of: steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber. In general, the lighter the material, the more expensive the chair—but, the easier it will be to load it into a car. Some chairs also come apart for transport quite easily, with quick-release wheels and removable foot rests and arm rests.
Now that you have a better idea of what you might be looking for…it’s time to try to find it. If you’re looking for wheelchairs in Cincinnati or Dayton, Ohio, you can pop into any Med Mart retail store to take a look around and have one of our incredibly helpful customer service people (seriously…they’re the best) help you out. If you don’t live near a retail store, you can also shop online (here is a link to the power wheelchair section, and here is a link to the manual wheelchair section).