How to Locate, Assess and Purchase a Wheelchair for an Elderly User

Published In Mobility Devices

April 23rd, 2015

Seniors can find the right wheelchair to suit their needs if they take the following information into consideration when deciding what to buy. There is a lot of choice in determining whether a wheelchair is comfortable and suitable to your needs. Find our top tips and top ten wheelchair features provided below.

How are wheelchairs fitted for users?

In order to get the best fit, you need to have your wheelchair made according to the dimensions of your body as measured in a seated position. Height and weight is not enough to properly fit the chair. If you want to sit with a cushion, make sure to take the measurement of the cushion into account, too. Wheelchair manufacturers are required to follow the American National Standards Institute/Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (ANSI/RESNA) procedures when building a wheelchair. This requires that the wheelchair be measured with a weighted test dummy so as provide a more realistic idea of the eventual fit of the wheelchair to the proportions of the customer. It is best not to rely completely on this test when buying your wheelchair, but it helps as a guide.

What are the main components of a wheelchair that must be considered and adjusted?

The main components of a wheelchair that must be considered and adjusted to the individual are the following:

  • Seat width
  • Seat depth
  • Seat surface height
  • Backrest height
  • Footrest-to-seat distance
  • The tilting of the rear axle of the wheelchair

If you use armrests and/or a headrest you will need measure:

  • Armrest height
  • Front of armrest to backrest distance
  • Armrest length
  • Front location of armrest structure
  • Distance between armrests
  • Headrest height

Who should use a manual wheelchair vs. who should use a power wheelchair?

Manual wheelchairs are suited to people who have the strength and the energy to power themselves along. They are small and light weight and less expensive to maintain and repair. However, if you do not have the strength or energy to keep yourself moving all day, then a power wheelchair could be your better option.

What is the best way to locate, assess and purchase a wheelchair?

Select a clinic with a good team of people to help you. Because there is so much to consider when fitting a chair, it is a good idea to have it done at a qualified clinic that is certified. You want to get the best option for enabling you to continue to get the most out of your life. Make sure your clinic has a good team and clear process and certification in place. To get your ideal wheelchair, you need to speak to rehabilitation professionals.

Top 10 Wheelchair Features:

  1. Supplied by a certified clinic that has Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) certification from RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) See more at:
  2. Prescribed by a doctor who understands your overall health situation
  3. Suited to your age and abilities
  4. Adjusted to fit to your height and weight
  5. Provides support to your core area to enable you to sit comfortably
  6. Is functional and suits your needs
  7. Is also suited to the requirements of your caregiver
  8. Fits with your home environment and lifestyle
  9. Meets your financial considerations
  10. Can be easily repair and maintained in future.

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