What is a Wheelchair?
Quite simply put, a wheelchair is a chair with wheels. Used in medical situations, these tools are specially designed chairs that are fitted with wheels to help someone get around when walking is difficult or not an option.
There are various kinds of wheelchairs on the market, ranging from push wheelchairs to electronic versions, but they all fill the same general need. They allow mobility where mobility would otherwise be impossible.
Who Needs a Wheelchair?
About 1.85% of people in the world require the use of a wheelchair. That may not seem like a lot, but consider that there are about seven billion people across the globe. 1.85% of that is about 131 million people.
The reasons behind those who need a wheelchair are vast and varied. Some people who use wheelchairs will use them temporarily, while some will need them for the rest of their lives. Medical conditions that cause individuals to require a wheelchair include the following:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Among these reasons are many more.
Additionally, those who are suffering from physical injuries may require the temporary use of a wheelchair. Common injuries like a broken leg to more serious injuries like a spinal cord injury can prompt you to utilize a wheelchair until you are completely healed.
While less severe fractures centered on a foot or ankle do not require a wheelchair, you may find it easier to move around using one.
Lastly, individuals who have a hard time moving around may use a wheelchair either occasionally or permanently. These people are typically elderly, and have found their bodies in a general “wearing down” phase. The gradual degeneration of the body can make it harder to walk or stand for long periods of time, which can limit one’s activities.
A wheelchair can help seniors continue to participate in activities or family events rather than needing to sit them out because of fatigue.
How Do I Choose a Wheelchair?
The kind of wheelchair you need may depend on your unique situation. You will need to choose your wheelchair based on various things, such as:
- Feel and fit
- Ease of use
- Age and weight of patient
- Places you intend to use it
- What you want to use it for
The above items all matter greatly. For example, if you are of a heavier weight, you’ll most likely need a wider wheelchair. At the same time, someone who needs a wheelchair because they are too weak may need a different kind of wheelchair than someone with a broken foot.
When it comes to mobility, there are generally two options: transport chairs and basic wheelchairs. Transport chairs are wheelchairs that are made to be pushed by someone other than the person in the chair, i.e., a caregiver or family member. A basic wheelchair is one that can be self-operated, or self-propelled. Before making a purchase, a user needs to consider their ability to operate a wheelchair on their own. Someone who has a broken leg but is in good health otherwise will be able to operate a basic wheelchair. Someone in their 80s with low strength may not be able to do so. Some basic wheelchairs include foot propel technology that lets you use your feet for movement as well. Someone with weaker arm strength might consider this option.
Basic categories that branch off of these two are lightweight wheelchairs, ultra lightweight wheelchairs, and heavy-duty wheelchairs. The weight of your wheelchair comes into play when you consider how often you will be traveling. A lightweight wheelchair is easier to lift in and out of cars, while a heavy-duty wheelchair may be better to keep in the house. In addition to the weight of your wheelchair, you will also have to consider your own weight. Most basic wheelchairs are equipped to support up to 300 pounds. However, some lightweight designs may support less. At the same time, people diagnosed with obesity may need to look for more heavy-duty type chairs.
Mobility is Key
Whatever your situation may be – a temporary injury, a lifelong condition, or a general worn-out feeling, a wheelchair could be the answer you have been looking for. Remember, being in a wheelchair shouldn’t mean you lose your independence or mobility. Choose one that works best for you, and you may find your life gets a little easier.