If you are a new wheelchair user, you may find yourself naturally drawn to electric chairs. However, before going out and buying an electric wheelchair you really should think about buying a manual one instead.
Using a manual chair can really help to keep you fit. Generally speaking, manual wheelchairs are lighter and fold up, so are easier to fit into a car. They take up less space in the home and are usually narrower than electric wheelchairs, so can potentially help you to access more places.
Is a Manual Wheelchair Suitable for You?
Provided you have reasonable upper body mobility and do not suffer from breathing difficulties a manual wheelchair is potentially an option for you. Operating a manual wheelchair independently requires a certain amount of strength, in particular when negotiating wheelchair ramps and kerbs. This means that upper body strength is also a consideration; however remember that, over time, you can usually build the necessary strength with a good exercise regime.
As well as considering the above take the time to discuss your choice of wheelchair with your physiotherapist and doctors. It also makes sense to discuss the issue with wheelchair users who have similar mobility issues to you. They can explain to you the practicalities of using a manual wheelchair, and give the best advice about the type of wheelchair you should consider buying, including lightweight wheelchairs.
If you are still not sure about buying a manual chair, consider hiring one. Doing this for a few weeks will help you to establish 100% whether a manual wheelchair isright for you.
Things to Consider
Once you are sure you will be able to use a manual wheelchair, do a little research into which chairs are available within your price range. If you plan to travel with your wheelchair, make sure that it is foldable. Look at the way your chair will fold or be dismantled, ask yourself will it be small enough to get into my vehicle and can I dismantle or fold it myself?
Manual wheelchairs with an additional set of rear wheels tend to be easier to propel. If you are going to spend all day in your wheelchair, the seat has to be comfortable, so this is an important consideration.