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The only wheelchair guide you

16th March 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Contemporary society has become far more accepting and accommodating of wheelchairs, in all their forms and it is something that continues to improve, making four-wheeled life easier and disability equality closer in reach. A wheelchair no longer defines the person, it has become a vehicle that allows us to accomplish the once unthinkable and therefore its acquirement should not be a task undertaken lightly.

This guide looks to give a fully comprehensive and thorough insight into not only the choosing of a wheelchair but also wheelchair use in general. As mobility aids and stairlifts become ever more sophisticated, reduced mobility is slowly losing its status as the restriction it once was and this guide looks to prove that living with a wheelchair no longer needs to be considered a disability in life.

Buying a wheelchair

When purchasing your own personal wheelchair, whether for the first time or as a replacement, there are a number of things to consider closely prior to that final decision. This is a possession that is not only going to be a part of your everyday life but it is something that is effectively going to be an extension of yourself and, as such, you should make sure it fits with your tastes and lifestyle. Think about whether you need a wheelchair for an active lifestyle or whether being able to easily move from the wheelchair to a recliner chair is important, as these generally involve a different form where the wheels are positioned further forward on an adjustable axle.

Here we sum up the main decisions to consider at a glance.

                                                                                 

                                                                                  

The main thing to consider when choosing between a manual or electric wheelchair is your lifestyle and upper body strength. If you feel comfortable in pushing yourself and wish to maintain a level of independence a manual chair could be the choice for you as they are relatively inexpensive and help you maintain exercise and self-sufficiency. Alternatively, if self-powered movement is not an option, electric powered chairs are a great option by way of maintaining independence. In choosing the second option there are still a whole host of decisions to make such as what speed, as well as decisions to do with the chair itself including type of seat, armrests, neck support and even colour so be sure to speak to a professional for advice.

                                                                                 

                                                                                   

Mobility is the key subject that surrounds the concept of the wheelchair and, as such, the mobility of the wheelchair itself is incredibly important. A fixed frame has a whole range of benefits from its superior strength, when compared to a folding frame, but it is harder to move about and transport via vehicle rather than needing specialist wheelchair accessible vehicles.

While of course this is just a brief overview of the wheelchair buying process and there are many more important decisions to take into account, it shows just how important it is to consider your lifestyle when choosing a wheelchair. See the NHS website for further advice and support.

Out and about

Once you have your personal wheelchair, it is time to make the most of it and get out and about. Britain as a whole has become far more accessible country in recent years and considerably more wheelchair-friendly. There are a number of websites that highlight accessible venues in the UK such as Euan’s Guide and Accessible Britain. You can also find out about Britain’s most accessible venues in this previous guide and the country’s most accessible beaches, nowhere is off limits!

Wheelmap.org is another great website that takes the form of an online map that you can search, find and mark wheelchair-accessible places around the world.  Downloadable as a smartphone app, it is a great way of feeling confident in your chair when out and about.

Wheelchair hire is another option when you’re travelling. A number of UK beaches offer the hire of special beach wheelchairs and the Shopmobility scheme ensures that you are never without access to city and town centres.

Clubs such as the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation, British Wheelchair Basketball and even Wheelchair Fencing also prove that a wheelchair doesn’t stop your abilities it just adds a further challenge to achieving your potential. You can even enjoy the best of the British countryside with Walks with Wheelchairs.

Where will your four wheels take you?

Image Credit: Jnzl’s Public Domain Photos (flickr.com) Changes have been made from the original.

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.