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Understanding Mobility Devices: How to Choose the Right Wheelchair for You

Understanding Mobility Devices: How to Choose the Right Wheelchair for You

Choosing a mobility device can be overwhelming, especially if you or a loved one is a first-time user. There are many options available with different impacts on your utility, accessibility, and comfort. Wheelchairs are incredibly beneficial ambulatory devices, but there are so many options that many people don't know what  might be best for them. Read on to learn the differences between the many wheelchair options available to you!

The Best Mobility, Assistive, and Ambulatory Devices Available at Mountainside Medical Equipment

Manual Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are a great long-term solution to maintaining independence despite mobility or stability issues, and manual, self-propelled wheelchairs are the most common type. Defining features include:

  • Four wheels: two smaller front wheels and two larger rear tires, usually 18" to 24", that have rotating handrails.
  • Self-propelling: rotating handrails allow you to push yourself forward.
  • Assisted option: typically have handles on the back to allow another person to push you forward when needed.
  • Durability: reinforced steel construction provides heavy-duty stability for long-term use.
  • Comfort: a longer length of time sitting means that most wheelchairs have padded armrests, seats, and backs.
  • Braking system: typically have a push-lock wheel that locks the chair in place so you can get in and out of the chair safely.
  • Accessory options: many different attachable accessories are available, including cushions, oxygen attachments, trays, cup holders, and bags.

Powered Wheelchairs

Powered Wheelchairs

For users who have limited arm strength or mobility, or who are prone to fatigue, battery-powered wheelchairs with an electric motor are a great option. Defining features include:

  • Powered control: traditionally a controller with a joystick, but numerous Alternative Access Controls can include your head, chin, tongue, speech, and "sip-and-puff" controls that use air pressure from breathing and inhaling into a wand or tube.
  • Different wheel drives: rear-wheel drive is standard, but mid-wheel and front-wheel drive options may be lighter and more maneuverable in tight spaces.
  • Specialized options: many complex needs may require the use of a powered wheelchair, and options can vary from voice command to environmental control options to many different body position and alignment options.

Powered wheelchairs are endlessly adaptable and can come in many different sizes and formats, but they may also require some level of maintenance, as well as awareness of typical battery life and driving range. Some can be bulky and may require your home to have larger passageways, and may even require an adapted van or accessible public transportation options. But despite the learning curve, these are immensely helpful devices for providing independence to people with complex medical conditions.

Positioning Wheelchairs

Body position is important for anyone with a complex medical or mobility issue. Positioning wheelchairs have advanced adjustment options to keep your body in a position that supports physiological functions like respiration, circulation, digestion, and cardiac functions, as well as relieves pressure to prevent tissue trauma to vulnerable parts of your body. Defining features include:

  • Reclining.
  • Leg elevation.
  • Tilting seating system.

Sports Wheelchairs

Sports and Leisure Wheelchairs

For more active wheelchair users, a sports wheelchair can help you more readily participate in physical activities you enjoy! Defining features include:

  • Sports customization: many of these are designed for specific sports. Popular choices include basketball, tennis, racing, and rugby.

Related are handcycles, arm-powered bikes that present a sporty option for active and athletic wheelchair users. Both casual and competitive racing handcycles are available.

Also of interest are beach wheelchairs, chairs with large, balloon-like tires that prevent the chair from sinking into sand.

Standing Wheelchairs

A wheelchair doesn't have to mean constant sitting. The health benefits of regular standing have been widely studied in recent years -- you may be familiar with the trend of standing office desks -- and standing wheelchairs are made with this in mind. Defining features include:

  • Adjustable seating: the key element of a standing wheelchair is a seat that can be adjusted to place you in a standing position.
  • Safety features: these come with many pads and straps to ensure you're safely harnessed in your chair without risk of falling out.
  • Different types of functionality: standing options can be found on both manual or powered wheelchairs, including options for powered seat-lifting.

The Best Wheelchairs are Available at Mountainside Medical Equipment

Wholesale Medical Supplies Available at the Best Prices

Have you been to our storefront? Mountainside Medical Equipment offers wholesale medical supplies on a cash & carry basis. Get top brands for the highest quality assistive and mobility devices at the lowest prices right here!

Mountainside Medical Equipment’s storefront is located at 9266 Old River Road, Marcy, New York 13403. It’s open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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