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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Information

  • Using your electric wheelchair or mobility scooter on the roads

    Were frequently asked by customers who call uk-wheelchairs about the legislation regarding electric wheelchair, powerchairs and scooters. People want to know what the rules are when it comes to using these on the roads, footpaths and other pedestrian areas including precincts and shopping malls.

    Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are categorised in to class 1 or class 2. Depending on how and where you intend to use yours it pays to do your homework and consider which if these two types best suits your needs.

    Whilst you don't need a any form of licence to use either an electric wheelchair (powerchair) or a mobility scooter you may have to register it and apply for a nil value tax disc to be compliant. Although many users do not do this, we encourage all users to apply for one so they are on the right side of the law.

    If you do not have a licence then you should not use your mobility aid on the roads. To help you assess whether yours is a class 2 or a class 3 please follow this guide.

    To be class 3 compliant your powerchair or scooter must comply with these rules:

    * Not exceed maximum weight of 150 KGs unladen
    * Not exceed the maximum width of 0.85 meters
    * Have a device to restrict speeds to 4mph
    * Not be capable of speeds over 8mph
    * Have efficient brakes
    * Front and rear lights plus reflectors
    * Direction indicators
    * A working horn
    * A rear view mirror

    With the above considerations in place, you may then decide to take your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair on to the roads but you must also bare these things in mind:

    * Do not use bus lanes
    * Do not use cycle lanes
    * Do not use motorways nor dual carriageways where the limit is over 50mph.

    If you do decide to go on the dual carriageways then an amber flashing light is required to comply and to ensure that you are as visible as possible on the carriageway.

    On public footpaths and in pedestrian areas, all mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs are allowed but you must engage your speed restrictor to make sure you do not go faster than 4mph.

    Where there are parking restrictions and any other road markings you will need to respect these as would any other motorist including not parking on double yellow lines.

    With all this in mind please make sure that you are aware at all times and respect both pedestrians and other road users while out and about in your electric wheelchair or mobility scooter.

  • Stair climbing wheelchairs - or perhaps not

    In the past few weeks there has been a lot of chat and speculation about the new generation of stair climbing wheelchairs and their miraculous capabilities.

    Much of this rhetoric has occurred on social media sites where a video animation of a man in his wheelchair shows the chair climbing stairs. However i think there is little reality in this animation and the information is sketchy and written in Turkish.

    It would appear that the whole saga stems from a prototype that was built about 6 years ago that had a wheelchair with tracks that allowed the chair to mount, climb and descend stairs as well as reclining and extending the users legs out straight. This prototype was named Galileo at the time.

    The second stair climbing wheelchair has Swiss origin and looks like it may become more of a reality and is the creation of a group of students studying mechanical and electrical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).

    As and when i find more information on this i will be reporting back!

  • Ultra light electric boot scooters

    Having sold many of the Zinger electric wheelchairs we have been on the search recently for other chairs that come in the same category. That is lightweight, easy to fold making them ultimately portable and reliable. These are sometimes referred to as Boot Scooters !

    The good news is that other manufacturers are coming up with designs that are similar and that get away from the traditional setup with cumbersome steering yolks and heavy chassis making them anything but portable. There is a large proportion of disabled users who want and need the ability to arrive at their destination by car or train and be able to easily deploy their electric wheelchair to allow them to get on with their day. This means that the unit has to be light enugh to be lifted in and out of the boot, bus or train carriage.

    On a recent visit to Naidex at the Birmingham NEC we were able to find a few models that fit this bill. The use of new and different materials is making this type of chair easier to manufacture. Clever designs that allow removal of parts is becoming more common, making the chair lighter and less bulky. One one such model we were amazed to see how light the battery unit was which has made significant weight reduction possible making the chair about 20KGs which is in the range of what most folk can lift without difficulty.

    Models like the Genie, the Smarty and the Mobie from Monarch were some examples of this new ultra portable powerchair coming to the market. The Smarty is so called because not only is it fairly compact and lightweight but it also folds itself at the click of a button, making it ready to be lifted in to the boot of the car or on to the train. Once folded all of the models form very compact units that have easy to reach handles ready to be carried or wheeled to their storage.

    So what are the downsides of the new electric wheelchairs and what should be we looking out for ? As with all things that are made to become lighter in weight, there is a tendency for the strength to decrease in line with the weight. Many of the more traditional powerchairs will easily accommodate users up to 21 stone. They are built with a sensible gauge of steel or aluminium frame and all the components that are married to the wheelchair frame are of a similar duty build. This provides strength and stability.

    Another consequence of reducing powerchair weight is often reducing the range it is capable of between charges as manufacturers resort to smaller batteries. The use of lithium based cells are now more commonplace in electric wheelchairs.

    Finally look at the number of parts the model breaks down in to. The main focus here is generally the battery. Most of these are removable so that the weight can be reduced prior to lifting. You need to be confident that you or your helper are comfortable with lifting the biggest and or heaviest chair component.

    We will soon be adding some of these models to our online store once we have tested the units and been able to assess exactly what and who they are suited to. In the meanwhile please visit our selection of electric wheelchairs by clicking here.

  • Chair selection - we revisit this important topic

    We sell many many wheelchairs over the course of a year and have done so for over ten years. We are very lucky with our staff, many of whom are family and have worked for us at UK-Wheelchairs for several years. Over this time their depth of product knowledge has increased and their ability to advise others on what type of wheelchair is most suitable has improved. We supply many different brands and many different types so there is a lot to learn about. From transit to self propelled or manual models, specialist models like tilt in space or reclining and of course models designed for children or pediatric wheelchairs as they are often referred to.

    Our experience helps us to select the right wheelchair for you

    Then each brand or manufacturer has its own quirks and intricacies. For some users, build quality is paramount whereas others maybe looking for a budget wheelchair as they only have short term requirements due to injury or operation. Either way, assessing ones mobility needs is key to supplying the right chair.

    Lifestyle consideration and its impact on chair selection

    Another big consideration is the lifestyle of the wheelchair user. We're all different and therefore have different requirements. Some of us have more active lifestyles than others, particularly younger users. Others simply want maximum comfort and ease of transfer. We pride ourselves in knowing the entire range of chairs that we sell. We are in a very good position to supply the right model once we have listened to you and understand how and where the wheelchair will be used. Many folk receive good advice from their doctors medical specialists or following accidents occupational therapists will often assist in selecting the right type and even model for your needs.

    Once you have selected the right one you then have a massive range of wheelchair accessories to ensure that you are both safe and comfortable and for many the right look is also important. Luckily over recent years, design has become more important and the looks of mobility equipment has improved massively. There are now colour choices for most wheelchairs so users can now differentiate theirs from others. Similarly specialist clothing is now available in more vibrant colours. Cushions can be bought to suit both size and seat width but also have patterns designs and other features to make them more appealing.

    Selecting accessories and clothing

    So here at UK-Wheelchairs our quest to supply the most suitable mobility equipment goes on and we are confident that if you want advise that we can give you the time to make sure you select the right wheelchair. So how do we start ?

      • The first choice is whether it is going to be self propelled, pushed by an other often referred to as an attendant or electric powered?
      • Secondly is it for permanent or for occasional use ?
      • Thirdly is it going to be used indoors or outside?
      • Finally is it going to be transported by car?

    With this information in place we can begin to narrow down the choice of wheelchair and start to propose some models to fit your budget and individual needs. There are pros and cons for each type of chair and with so much choice it can be difficult to know where to start without the right advice.

    Your physical ability

    We pay attention to your physical state and your ability to stand, your balance and of course stability. Depending on your disability these all vary enormously. We also consider the layout of your home and other places where you spend most of your time. We can then assess whether you need to go through narrow doorways or down corridors, whether you need to tackle steps or lifts etc. Even small intricacies like where your power plugs are sited can make a difference to the type of wheelchair that we would suggest as some are designed to make leaning and turning more easy.

    Need more help ? Please watch these videos:

    [embed]https://youtu.be/S5CvZP6k8l8[/embed]

    We could ramble on for a long time at this point but instead we encourage you to call us so that our experience can help guide your decision. But if you are interested and want to read on we look into more intricate things like frame design and wheel size, both of which affect the ease of manoeuvre. Basically, the larger the rear wheels are the easier it is for the wheelchair to manoeuvre. The positioning of the wheels in relation to the user also make a difference. Some wheelchairs have an adjustable axle for this reason, this allows the positioning of the wheels to be adjusted in relation to the users position, which means it requires less effort to move the chair forward. Other big considerations are storage and transportation. Many chairs spend most of their lives in use and rarely have to be folded. If this is the case then the ease of which this can be carried out is if less importance. If you are a user who travels frequently and or needs to fold the chair away for storage then we would propose a different model that caters for this.

    Wheelchair seat size and seat angle also have an affect on the maneuverability and comfort for the user. In addition, the positioning of the feet in relation to the body also influences levels of comfort and accessibility. We often refer to standard wheelchairs which tend to be cheaper or active user models that do cost more but also allow a greater level of adjustment to ensure user comfort. This is more important when the user spends more time in their chair so that they receive better support and higher levels of comfort to avoid pressure sores.

    Wheelchair selection assistance

    Of course if you are dependent on being pushed we also like to consider the requirements of your carer or attendant. It is equally important that they too are comfortable if they are likely to be pushing you in your wheelchair for long periods of time. Push handle height and grip are key factors. These have to be just right to avoid the attendant getting either back ache or sore hands. Similarly wheelchair weight is a big consideration also, as they will be the ones pushing you and the chair and indeed lifting and folding it for transport or storage.

    So where else can you get some useful tips ? Why not try these videos and informational articles for more advice - the NHS is a great resource of knowledge:

    Looking beyond the standard wheelchair This video displays the options if you are not wanting an NHS model

    Independent living How leading an independent life with a physical or learning disability is now more achievable than ever.

    If its children's wheelchairs that you are looking to learn about why not visit here

    Part two of the wheelchair selection video:

    [embed]https://youtu.be/8HEVruGqG-s[/embed]

    We hope that this article has been of help to you. Please call us if you want more help in the selection of yours - we're here to help!

  • Available Mobility Products

    Many people have a need for mobility devices because of a birth condition, some unfortunate accident or disease, or simply because of old age. Although some might need them temporarily, others require mobility products permanently. No matter how long they are required to use them, it cannot be denied that these products enhance the quality of the lives of its users.

    The most common types of mobility product are wheelchairs. These come in two main categories; manual wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs. The manual type can be controlled by users through an outer rim attached to the wheel while the electric wheelchair can be controlled using a joystick or some buttons. This is made possible by its motorised technology allowing it to be powered by rechargeable batteries or wheelchair power packs.

    Another common type of mobility product are scooters. These come either with three or four wheels. Although scooters with three wheels often provide more leg room, many prefer four wheels because they are known to be more stable enhancing safety. These mobility scooters can come in two types including the Class 2 on-road and the Class 2 on-pavement.

    With these forms of mobility products, it is important for you to know how to decide which best suits your needs. To aid you in figuring this out, you must first identify your requirements as each type would be better suited to specific lifestyles.

    What is the best method to decide which mobility device is be best for you?

    • If you find the need to be very mobile, you will most likely use your mobility device for extended periods of time. Should this be the case, it may be best for you to decide on buying a wheelchair as its support features for your torso and extremities will make you feel more comfortable.

    • If you have limited upper-body strength, choose between scooters or electric wheelchairs so you would not have to manually control your mobility device.

    • If you often feel weak and find difficulty in sitting up independently, it is recommended that you avoid scooters that these require upright postures and a considerable amount of strength.

    • If your lifestyle requires you to be traveling on uneven roads or surfaces, try getting a manual wheelchair as scooters and electric wheelchairs have difficulty being stable in uneven terrain.

    • If you like to travel to far places involving the use of trains or airplanes, it may be best for you to choose a wheelchair with a foldable feature so you can easily store it while in transit.

    Now that you know what type is best for you, the next step is finding a model that suits your preferences. In deciding this, consider the places where you would be using your mobility product and try taking measurements. You at least have to make sure that the model you would like will fit through your home's doorways.

    Also think about what other features you may find useful. Some enjoy having headrests and other extra features for added comfort. Also consider what your insurance policy covers.

    Although you may gain many tips simply by reading, it is recommended for you to seek the help of experts. The choice of which mobility product to purchase will definitely affect your life tremendously so make sure you get quality advice from those who really know about these things and where to buy them.

  • Batteries for Wheelchairs

    Wheelchair batteries don't work the same as car batteries. While car batteries are needed to start the vehicle's engine and to run the electric components, wheelchair batteries work for as long as the wheelchair is in use or as long as the battery has enough power. Wheelchair batteries have to be recharged at least once a day, depending on the wheelchair usage.

    Wheelchair batteries are commonly known as deep cycle batteries. Unlike common rechargeable batteries, deep cycle batteries will not be damaged when they are completely discharged. However, it is still advisable to keep them charged at all times.

    The good thing about wheelchair batteries is that they are convenient for the wheelchair user as they can be plugged in for charging during the night when the wheelchair user doesnt need the wheelchair. Charging the batteries overnight isnt unsafe as the batteries cannot be overcharged.

    Depending on how often the wheelchair(s) is used, wheelchair batteries can last a very long time as long as correct precautions and re-charging times are carried out correctly. There are also tell-tale signs the wheelchair user can look out for to determine whether or not the batteries are weakening so they will know when a replacement is due.

    Wheelchair batteries or power packs are often sold in pairs and can range in price anywhere from £80 to £200. The price depends on what type of battery is needed and what type of wheelchair it will be used on, generaly the larger the battery capacity the more expensive it is.

    There are two main types of wheelchair batteries:

    1. Wet batteries:
      Wet wheelchair batteries get their name as they need distilled water in order to function. The water must be checked in regular intervals, this may be a difficult task if the wheelchair user does not have assistance.

    2. Gel batteries:
      Gel wheelchair batteries do not use water. Gel batteries are also preferred by those who travel with their wheelchair especially in airports as airport security does not allow wet batteries to be in place while on the plane.

    Compared to wet batteries, gel batteries are known to have 10% - 20% less power making them less appealing for those who travel great distances using their wheelchairs.

  • The Costs of Being Disabled

    Physically disabled individuals who were born with their condition may have already become used to some degree of social discrimination. However, employers and the physically able public have become more progressive in thinking and their attitude towards the physically disabled.

    This has led to better accommodation and considerations allowing wheelchair users to be more mobile and become more independent. Although these changes have taken place, it can still become quite hard for the disabled to move around in many public areas. For this reason, assistive devices including electric wheelchairs have become necessities.

    Although the difficulties of physically disabled individuals have been acknowledged, it is difficult to understand the financial damage it can cause unless it is personaly experienced by the person him/herself or his/her family. With necessities that include mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs, wheelchair ramps, special furniture, walking aids, specific personal care goods, having a physical disability can easily cost anyone a fortune. None of these are considered luxury goods and they are all costs physically disabled individuals incur.

    Although financial assistance may be available, the assistance often cannot cover the total cost of goods physically disabled individuals require. Because many do not have personal finances to cover all expenses, many have had to decide on having one necessity over another. Families have also had to make certain sacrifices to make the budget fit. This may not be easy especially if the physically disabled in the family quickly grow out of their assistive devices or if they like to enhance their lives through sports that can cause rapid wear and tear to their equipment and quickly need replacements.

    There are assistive devices that allow life to become easier. Because of the costs involved, many have no choice but to make do with what they have. In the case of temporarily disabled individuals, many feel as if they are better off suffering than taking such a huge financial hit for assistive devices that they are not sure they will be using for very long. Of course this is not an ideal situation. When it comes to the mobility needs of individuals, all should have enough money to make their lives easier to live.

    Because of the high costs involved, many physically disabled individuals have learned to purchase items in bulk. For all obvious reasons, this involves lower costs than if they would purchase in retail. Since they are able to save a considerable amount of money, they are able to afford more and better assistive devices. Others have even chosen to purchase seconhand mobility devives especially when their need involves something very pricey. This can be a good decision but in most cases the devices are not built or designed for the individuals needs and specifications.

    Those that have even had to deal with extensive financial strain are families who have disabled children. The reason for incurring more costs is that the children quickly grow out of their assistive devices and they therefore cannot have long term use of what they currently have. Even those who are temporarily disabled find themselves without any use of high-priced items they bought for recovery simply because their needs were only temporary.

    Assistive devices are often suited to their users and their environment, many who have the need to change residences find that their devices no longer fit in their new home. This has led to a wide selection of quality secondhand products that many others may still have use for. Secondhand mobility products can be purchased at much lower prices and the benefit they will get will be the same as if they purchased brand new goods.

    When looking to purchase secondhand mobility products, ask questions about its previous owners to better evaluate the condition of the product and to evaluate if the previous owner had a similiar ailment as yourself. Such questions should involve how it was previously used, whether warranties still apply, what services have been made, and what parts have been replaced.

    When buying assistive devices, whether new or secondhand, it is always better to avoid rushing into a purchase so as to better evaluate the product and others that are available in the market. Taking time when purchasing a secondhand mobility product can pay off as you can research the items and you may well find exactly the product that suits all of your requirements at a cheaper price.

    Although being physically disabled can be costly, many options have allowed individuals to lessen the financial strains. Local foundations, government grants, and insurance covers also help in a significant manner.

  • Independence With Shower Chairs

    For quite a while now, shower chairs have existed to aid the elderly and those who have physical disabilities. Since they were introduced, they have continued to help people gain their independence by requiring little or no assistance when taking showers. Whether people have mobility needs due to physical disabilities, lack of balance, or debilitating diseases, shower chairs have become an appealing option. In today's society the trend to have large or oversized bathrooms has allowed further development of shower chairs.

    Some of the most favoured shower chairs are made of strong plastic as these are most economical. This type of shower chair is lightweight, durable, and strong. Many plastic shower seats are foldable and easy to store. Making sure that the shower chairs are installed or placed securely can assure you of both safety and convenience. There are shower chairs that are more like stools while others feature including support for the back. Although shower chairs with backrests often take up more space they are preferred by those who have back problems.

    When choosing a shower chair you need to evaluate your needs to decide on which type would suit you best. Rubberized contacts or other non-slip material should be used on the bottom of the chair's legs to ensure your safety. However, there are other things to consider, for instance, you may want a shower chair with padding if you don't feel too comfortable sitting on hard surfaces for the length of time it takes for you to shower. These padded shower chairs use a vinyl cover due to its water-resistant property.

    Some shower chairs feature wheels to accommodate those with mobility problems. For added safety, some shower chairs have features that lock the wheels to make it stationary while in the shower whereas others can be converted into stools when the wheels are not needed. This allows you to roll into the shower and sit comfortably while you bathe.

    Shower chairs may range in price depending on the make and model you wish to purchase. While some can cost around £25, others can cost as much as a few hundred pounds. Furthermore, there are water-resistant wheelchairs that can be used both in and out of the shower allowing you to purchase one mobility product for use wherever you may want to go.

    Because of the existence of shower chairs, disabled people require little or no assistance when showering. The usage of these products has also allowed the elderly to avoid nursing homes which not only allows them to stay in their own home but keep their independence and save much money as well.

    Although the idea of shower chairs may sound trivial, these continue to change the lives of people who have come to be more independent individuals. They can now feel more dignified as they gain the ability to bathe themselves. Furthermore, it has allowed them more privacy and more time by themselves.

  • Independence Via Mobility Scooters

    Many people may find their movement restricted sometime in their lives. As our bodies weaken with age, we experience increasing loss of strength in our limbs and begin walking less and less efficiently as we did in youth. The young, on the other hand, could lose the power in their limbs through infirmity or accidents. Old or young, the mobility impaired stands to benefit from a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair. Both are designed to help those with limited use of their lower limbs to regain a independence they had lost.

    Most people take for granted the ability with which they perform common daily tasks. When this ability is lost, a person is likely to lose confidence as well. The loss of such ability may result in psychological problems which in turn, may further complicate the person's physical state. Thus, restoring a person's mobility becomes essential, if not paramount.

    For the physically challenged; the prospect of undertaking simple activities like shopping, running errands and visiting friends or relatives can be daunting without any aid. Clearly, a device which allows them to accomplish these has to be provided. In temperate climates, this may not seem as big a drawback as does in places where it can get extremely hot or dry. However, going outside for a bit of fresh air or to socialize is good even if only to lift one's spirit.

    Mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs not only enable physically challenged people to make short trips by themselves, they also help resume many of their routines independently of others. Increased independence in the physically challenged eases the anxiety and pressure on their friends or loved ones. This independence ultimately restores the dignity of users of mobility scooters.

    With regard to aging individuals with increasing loss of limb functionality, mobility scooters allow them to keep their independence longer. Although electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters serve the same purpose, scooters are more widely used. Electric Wheelchairs compared to mobility scooters are bulky devices which are more difficult to store in addition, the size of the wheelchair may limit access to certain areas.

    Many people favor the look of scooters over the boxed-in look of wheelchairs. Beyond mere looks, the scooter's streamlined design makes its user feel less restricted or confined. Last but not least, there is a wide variety of mobility scooters to suit the specific needs and preferences of different users.

  • Wheelchair Shopping - Considerations

    Generally the first wheelchair any wheelchair bound individual acquires is from one of the following:

    • Persons known to them and who own used wheelchairs
    • Wheelchair rental companies that contract with the users insurance providers
    • Medical supply stores that fulfill wheelchair prescriptions from the users doctor
    • Wheelchair clinics with advice from expert occupational therapists, physical therapists or mobility consultants.

    As individuals requiring mobility devices have differing medical conditions, it is a wise move for wheelchair users to consult their physicians and occupational or physical therapists before choosing their wheelchair.

    Selecting a wheelchair that fits the users requirements need not be difficult. The following is a list of factors and considerations when buying a wheelchair.

    All wheelchair purchases should primarily take into consideration the user's physical state. Basically consider the following:

    • Gender
    • Body type
    • Specific physiological conditions (level of endurance, physical limitations etc.).

    Other factors to consider when purchasing wheelchairs and accessories are:

    • Place of use - indoor or outdoor
    • Users daily activities - shopping, visiting friends or relatives, etc.
    • Users mode of transportation - car, van, public transport
    • Length of time the user will spend in the wheelchair
    • Need of a wheelchair lift or ramp at home
    • Availability of a person to assist the user with his/her wheelchair
    • Where the wheelchair will be used - gravel, pavement, carpet, sand, etc.

    Individual features need to be considered:

    • Wheelchair Speed - if desired, an electric wheelchair rather than a manual wheelchair
    • Wheelchair Colour - the users personal choice
    • Joystick mounting - right or left-hand, fixed or swing-away
    • Wheelchair Batteries - gel or wet
    • Wheelchair Tyres - to match the conditions where the wheelchair will be used
    • Wheelchair Armrests - height adjustable, removable, etc.
    • Wheelchair Leg rests - swing away, elevating etc.
    • Wheelchair Seat - elevating, tilt, or recline
    • Wheelchair Seat cushion - gel, air or foam
    • Wheelchair Accessories - drink caddies, bags, trays, etc.

    A major factor that also has to be reviewed is wheelchair servicing and spare parts. If you have a problem with your wheelchair, you can get it fixed quickly and easily by purchasing from a recommended wheelchair dealer or wheelchair manufacturer.

    Generally a brand name wheelchair will have client support and the wheelchair itself will always have a manufacturers guarantee.

    When buying a wheelchair it is important to take all aspects into consideration as they are not cheap and the user has to spend a lot of time in it.

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