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:
- 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.