This is part of our series highlighting a consumer's guide to seating and mobility equipment. Check out The Wheelchair Handbook for more information about the wheelchair service provision process.
It’s time for you, the consumer, to get a new power wheelchair. What do you need to prepare in order to make sure you get what you need and want?
This series of blogs will highlight things to think about before you meet with your Team. Each blog will provide you with questions to help you evaluate your own needs and goals, so that you can share this information with your team.
This is # 4 in our series and will highlight the power wheelchair. In the first three blogs, you learned about how to prepare for getting a seating system, a new manual wheelchair and a power assist device.
Are you a full-time power wheelchair user, meaning, you use your wheelchair for your safe, basic and functional mobility? If so, is your power chair getting you where you need to go and helping you to manage daily tasks and positions?
Here are some questions to ask yourself and be prepared to share about your current power wheelchair (if you are considering transitioning from a manual wheelchair to power, then these questions apply to you as well):
- How long do I want and need to sit up in my chair throughout the day?
- Am I comfortable all day? If not, how long can I sit before I’m uncomfortable?
- Do I feel supported and do I have good balance to do daily tasks?
- Have I noticed any postural changes? Do I sit upright and ‘straight’ or am I falling over?
- Do I have any skin/tissue issues? Red or purple marks on my skin that don’t go away? Has it been recommended that I change positions during the day to protect my skin integrity?
- Is it difficult to propel my chair ? At home, outside, in the community? Am I no longer able to get where I need to go, using my manual wheelchair (with or without a power assist)
- Are there places that I cannot access or go to because of my manual wheelchair?
- Do I take my chair with me in a vehicle? Do I have a modified vehicle that will fit a power wheelchair?
There are a variety of features of power wheelchairs that will assist you in changing your position throughout the day for pressure distribution, stability, functional task achievement and self care tasks. The research supports these position changes strongly. There are a number of ‘Position Papers’ that outline these features and how and why they work to enhance a consumer’s abilities and safety.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about what you need and want from your new power wheelchair:
- What are my functional and medical needs? Has anything changed about my condition or functional status?
- Where do I plan to use my wheelchair? Indoors, outdoors, what type of terrain?
- What activities do I complete throughout the day?
- I need to change positions throughout the day, how can I do that in a power wheelchair?
- Do I have anyone to help me with maintenance of my wheelchair?
- Are there specific features that I think I need or would benefit from? Am I aware of the different drive configurations, power seat functions, programming abilities, access to my environment through Bluetooth and Infrared?
- I would like to incorporate standing into my daily routine. Can I do that in my power wheelchair or do I need to get a separate standing device?
So now, what do you do with all of this information? Take this information and share it with your team to make sure that your needs and goals are addressed while you select your new power wheelchair. Check out the digital version of The Wheelchair Handbook or if you prefer to download a pdf click here.
Permobil Clinical Education Team
This information comes from the Permobil Clinical Education team which consists of a group of Occupational and Physical Therapists. Click here to learn more about Permobil clinical education team.