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Things to Know When You’re Buying a Wheelchair

on May 28, 2021

A wheelchair is a movable device specially designed for individuals who cannot walk on their own feet or have physical injuries. Mainly there are 2 types of wheelchair which are available to suit the different needs and preferences of customers. As, there are many wheelchairs that exist in the Singapore market so take a brief look at the types of wheelchair and make your choice wisely.

Self Propelled
Self-propelled wheelchairs are the most widely used type of wheelchair. They are fundamentally designed to allow the user of the chair to move or propel themselves along without the requirements of somebody moving the chair. These wheelchairs consist of four wheels (two small caster wheels for front and two large-sized wheels for back), push rim, back cushion, and footrest. The user of this self-propelled wheelchair pushes the chair with the assist of push-rims so that the user would have enough strength on arms.

Attendant Propelled 
If the user is not strong enough to propel themselves and is independent of someone else to push the chair, then an attendant-propelled wheelchair is suitable for them. These pushchairs consist of two handles at the back which allows the attendant to push the chair forward. Tyres of this type of chair are usually smaller and lighter than the self-propelled one. Brakes are also provided in the handles for the convenience of the attendant.

As such there are no rules for the user to go for a particular type of chair. If the user can propel themselves, then a self-propelled wheelchair would work well for them. This difference helps you to choose your type of wheelchair.

While choosing a wheelchair, there are a number of things you should consider. These things will provide clarity about using a type of chair.

Overall Weight
We all know that the weight of a wheelchair is the most important factor to be considered if you are aiming to carry it by car also, it defines how difficult the chair is to move. Lightweight wheelchairs are easy to access and foldable to fit into the car. In fact, it becomes easier for the user to propel themselves when using the lightweight wheelchairs.

A foldable wheelchair is easy to squeeze to bring its two sides together. In the folded stage, the wheelchair automatically takes a lesser amount of space for storage. These types of chairs are easy to load in a vehicle and can be easily stored.

Usage frequency
While making the decision of buying the wheelchair, you must have to consider the factor of frequency as well. Because some wheelchairs are specially made for irregular use like for short road trips to shops or for therapist visits. However, others are more suitable for constant and daily use.

1. Assisted brakes
2. Back Rest
3. Arm Rest
4. Seat
5. Hand Brake
6. Leg Rest
7. Foot Plate
8. Push Rim
9.  Rear Wheels
10. Caster Wheel
11. Cross bar on frame
12. Anti Tippers

Rear wheels are either of solid tire or pneumatic tyres. The pneumatic tyres are filled with air while the solid tires are made of rubber. Well, if you have rocks and a sharp track around the person who is going to use the wheelchair then you must have to go for solid tire wheels as they are puncture-proof. But this will give a little hard ride to the occupant.

Foot Rest
Some wheelchair footrests do have universal attachment feature however, not all of them do have it. There are also some standard footplates that are used in most wheelchairs. And the majority of these footrests swing inwards and outwards. Though having swing-away footplates are important for safe transfers as without swing footplates it becomes hard to stand in front of the chair by stepping off the plates. On the other side, removable foot plates are of major concern while commuting somewhere out, as after removing the plates the overall size of the frame gets reduced. Some footrest are height adjustable and elevated for user's extra comfort.

Some chairs have armrests that can easily move up and down, while others come with the detachable armrest for easy side transfer. Sometimes, the normal height of the armrest doesn’t not allow the occupant to sit up comfortably on the table as the arm will hit the edges of the table. 

Reclining & Tilting Function
Some models comes with reclining or tilting adjustment. These types of wheelchairs are particularly suited for users with more complex mobility needs. Reclining option is recommended for users who need to use a wheelchair for long periods, alternate between an upright seated position to a lying down one to help distribute pressure more effectively.
The tilt-in-space wheelchairs are designed to tilt back as one complete unit, this helps to maintain the patient’s posture and prevents them from slipping out of the chair, which minimizes the risk of any shearing injuries. The chair’s center of gravity can be alternated throughout the day, this allows for pressure to be redistributed regularly, helping to reduce any build-up of pressure in one particular area of the body, which helps to mitigate the risk of pressure sore.

Motorised Wheelchair & Scooter
Electric mobility aids boosts independency to elderly or people with limited mobility. This encourage them to go outdoors and stay socialise, keeping a healthy mind and body. It comes with flip back arm rest making self side transfer easier. Hand control on these wheelchairs are adjustable to fit the user's needs. We provide on-site training during delivery, to guide the users on the speed control and safe manoeuvring. Read more on Singapore PMA regulations here.

Wheelchair cushion provides cushioning comfort and pressure relief. But mostly wheelchairs are designed so that the user can use their own cushion fit to their needs. Also, it is suggested that to buy a separate cushion while purchasing a new wheelchair. The basic cushions in memory foam or gel combination form, are suitable for the user who is at low risk. For medium-risk users, adjustable air pressure relief cushions provides extra comfort and better positioning. You must consult your therapist while making a cushion purchase. 

Storage Bags
This storage bag is an advantage for elderly and senior citizen individuals. As these storage bags are great to carry all the personal essentials and also big enough to carry shopping stuff as well. Some designs are attached to the under-seat of a wheelchair to conceal their medical equipment. 

User Weight
All wheelchairs come with a certain amount of weight limit to carry. One should not exceed this weight limit as it will invalidate the given warranty and the wheelchair can become dangerous to use.

Arm Rest Height
Armrests are made to support the arm of the user comfortably as these are adjustable according to occupants arm height. Basically, premium wheelchairs have height-adjustable armrests. 

Hope this wheelchair buying guide provides you enough information to choose the right wheelchair. Visit any Lifeline retail stores in Singapore to know more.