Wheelchair users have a great deal of choice today. Modern models use technology to aid greater mobility and the increased range of powered wheelchairs means greater comfort than ever before. However, one of the most important decisions you will need to make is to choose a self-propelling wheelchair or one that requires an attendant. Your decision will depend on some of the following factors.
Upper Body Strength
Self-propelling wheelchairs are only suitable for those with the strength in their arms and chest to be able to push themselves along a path or road. These models have larger wheels and safety features that the user is able to easily manoeuvre while driving. Some models retain push handles in case the user needs extra help such as getting up a slope.
Attendant-propelled wheelchairs are designed with a second person in mind – therefore it has handles at the back. The wheels do not have handgrips, and tend to be smaller to keep the weight down for the attendant. If you have little muscle mass or bone strength in your upper body, you may prefer one of these.
Another issue to consider is your body weight. Wheelchair users come in all shapes and sizes and it is not always about upper body strength. If you are overweight, you may struggle to with a self-propelling wheelchair whereas an attendant with sufficient strength may not have trouble pushing you along a street or up a slope. Weight may be less important than body strength, particularly in male users – but these two issues should be considered together.
The terrain around your home should also be a consideration in line with the issues already raised. Is there area where you live relatively flat or hilly? We’re not just talking about the path up to your home (something you can change by putting on slopes) but also the things you cannot change – the gradient of your street or the terrain of the village, town or city around you. A self-propelling wheelchair may be problematic in areas where there is considerable variation in terrain; an attendant-propelled wheelchair is less problematic.
Indoors vs Outdoors
Where you will spend most of your time will also be a contributing factor here. Self-propelling wheelchairs tend to have larger wheels and take up more space. They are designed to improve mobility outside, and if you are able to walk short distances (such as around your home with a walking stick) then they are ideal. However, if you have no mobility in your legs, you may require two wheelchairs – one attendant-propelled wheelchair for inside and a self-propelled wheelchair for outside.
Is Help Readily Available?
If you live alone and don’t have (or need) a carer, or otherwise can’t expect regular help, then your better option will certainly be a self-propelled wheelchair. This is for when you will need to rely on getting yourself around. Attendant-propelled wheelchairs have much smaller wheels; the user cannot manoeuvre it with his or her hands. However, self-propelled wheelchairs still have handles at the back, retaining the best of both worlds – self-propelling when you need it while retaining provisions for a second person to push you when necessary.
Understanding the needs of the modern wheelchair user, CareCo supplies a wide range of options. We have some of the best examples of self-propelled wheelchairs from the lightweight to the sturdy, sports models and super-light travel models to aid in your mobility. Realising that some of our customers still prefer an attendant-propelled wheelchair model, this range is also as diverse. Either way, you will find that most of our models are made from strong steel or lightweight aluminium, suiting every budget and individual mobility requirements.