wheelchairs and transfer aids

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Medical wheelchairs - benefits and uses

For people who have leg injuries, gait problems or more serious conditions like cerebral palsy, a well-chosen wheelchair can be a godsend. However, only a medical specialist should recommend this rehabilitation equipment.

Who are wheelchairs for?

Wheelchairs are mobility aids used for people who have difficulty with walking to or cannot walk on their own, due to a number of possible conditions. These come in two variants, manual wheelchairs and ones with electric propulsion powered by motors. The manual option is powered by the person sitting in the wheelchair, which requires them to push themselves by moving the wheels. These medical devices are also used in a number of sports, including tennis, basketball and even wheelchair racing, however, they are designed specifically for sports and include additional wheels, better steering capabilities and control.

Whether you suffer from temporary or permanent disabilities, a wheelchair can certainly improve your quality of life, however, prior to purchasing one, you may require a wheelchair prescription from your doctor, as these medical devices aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. Wheelchairs are commonly prescribed to people who suffer from paralysis, musculoskeletal conditions, neurological issues, gait problems or injuries sustained to the feet or legs, and each of these requires customized features. Wheelchair prescriptions help to define the required components needed to make the wheelchair fit your needs, which include specially designed seating, required size of the wheelchair, transfer aids, the type of cushion and additional modifications (postural support).

Both electric and manual wheelchairs provide great therapeutic benefits, including the facilitation of independent mobility, adjustable seat height, and allows the user to be able to remain comfortably seated without feeling tired. A well-chosen wheelchair provides the user freedom of mobility and significantly increases their physical activity levels in comparison to bedridden people. Aside from this, people who constantly lose their balance, have gait issues or cerebral palsy often find it exceedingly difficult to move about on their own, but with the right mobility device, they can significantly improve their quality of life.

A wheelchair is also an effective medical device in helping users maintain good physical and mental health. A probably chosen wheelchair, along with the right transfer aid and therapeutic cushion can help to significantly reduce any pressure ulcers, progressing deformities and other secondary issues caused by bad posture. Other physical benefits of utilizing this kind of rehabilitation equipment include better respiration, digestion, improved upper extremity stability and posture support. As for mental health, people who have difficulty getting around on their own may experience low self-esteem and depression. However, wheelchairs give them a second chance - users often see them as extensions of their bodies, allowing them to be able to move about more freely, which helps to significantly boost their confidence.

How do wheelchairs work?

Each wheelchair functions differently, depending on its purpose and the condition of the user it’s specially designed for. With that being said, all wheelchairs share a few common features - they keep the user comfortable, help them get around and are used to improve their health (both mental and physical). Certain wheelchairs have additional options such as postural support devices and additional cushioning, in order to help the user maintain good posture and prevent further development of progressive conditions.

Wheelchairs can be used either temporarily or all the time, spending on whether the user’s condition is permanent or temporary. In the case of manual wheelchairs, the user can propel themselves by pushing the wheel railing forwards with relative ease, or can have someone push them. Electric powered wheelchairs on the other hand are more easy to use and are especially beneficial for people who not only can’t walk, but also have difficulty pushing themselves in a manual wheelchair.

What are the types of wheelchairs?

As mentioned previously wheelchairs come in a number of models - medical wheelchairs can either be manual or powered by an electric motor. There are also specially designed versions used for sports, such as tennis, basketball and even wheelchair races, which can have three wheels and a completely different design from their medical counterparts.

Although all medical wheelchairs share common features, including 4 wheels, a seat and frame, they can differ depending on their customizations from the wheelchair prescription. Often, these include changes to the wheelbase, frame (either cross-folding or rigid), size of the seat, adjustability options, elevated leg rests, specially designed cushions and seat backrests, trays, headrests and even straps. In other words, each wheelchair model is unique. It’s also important to note that these devices are often used for home care, which means that it is best to choose a fully featured wheelchair that provides the user with the most comfort and safety, as it may not always be possible to have access to health care facilities.

Before purchasing your own wheelchair, consult with your doctor and ask if they recommend a wheelchair for treating your condition. They’ll make a thorough health screening assessment and give you a wheelchair prescription that will get you the right mobility aids for home care. You can find a number of reliable wheelchair brands and transfer aids in our store’s catalogue, here.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

1. How can I get a wheelchair prescription?

You can get your prescription by speaking with a physician or doctor, who will asses your health and recommend the right features for you.

2. Can I purchase a wheelchair without the prescription?

Yes, however, it is ill advised - only a wheelchair chosen by a medical specialist, with features best-matched for treating or alleviating your condition(s) will help you to recover or improve your quality of life.

3. How much do wheelchairs cost?

Prices can start at a few hundred dollars and can go for a few thousand. They’re likely to increase in price as a result of additional features, like headrests, elevated foot rests, etc.

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