MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014Manual Wheelchair Buying Guideand Overview InformationIf you are buying a wheelchair for the first time, youare probably overwhelmed by the number ofwheelchairs and multitude of options that areavailable to you. What seemed like a simple matter ofpurchasing a wheelchair has turned into a myriad ofchoices and second guessing that can leave even themost experienced wheelchair buyers frustrated and Covered in this Guide:confused. Mobility4Less has created this Wheelchair What Type of Wheelchair Do IBuying Guide to help you understand what features Need?to look for on a wheelchair and how to fit it properlyto the user. It is our sincerest hope that we provide How do I know what Seatyou with a wheelchair that helps its user regain Size to order?freedom of mobility and will last for years to come. Do I need to know the Back Height? What Armrests should I choose, Full Length or Desk Length? What are Front Riggings? Are all Handrims the same? Getting Assistance
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014What Type of Wheelchairdo I Need?There are several categories of Manual Wheelchairs available: Standard Lightweight Lightweight-High Strength Ultra Lightweight Tilt-in-SpaceThe first two questions to address in finding the right manualwheelchair is, how much time will the user be spending in thewheelchair and will they be propelling the wheelchair themselves?If the user will be spending the greater portion of their day in thewheelchair and propelling it by use of arms or legs, lighter isalways better. We would recommend a Lightweight-High Strengthwheelchair like the Invacare 9000SL or 9000XT models. Thesetypes of chairs usually weigh less than 34 lbs and are designed totake everyday abuse without breaking. Additionally, while like allwheelchairs they are bulky when folded, they are much lighter thanstandard wheelchairs and therefore easier to load into a car. MOST IMPORTANTAnother consideration in choosing the proper wheelchair is how the QUESTIONS:user will be propelling it. Many wheelchair users propel thewheelchair with their hands but there is a large contingent of How much timewheelchair users that also rely on the use of the legs to help walk thewheelchair along. If the wheelchair user is going to use his legs to will the user bepropel the wheelchair forward, he must have a wheelchair that sits spending in thelow enough to the floor as to accommodate his feet resting flat onthe the ground. This Seat-to-Floor measurement is critical but easily wheelchair andobtained. To measure for the proper Seat-to-Floor height, simply will they bemeasure the distance between the floor and the back of the thighwhile the intended user is sitting. Don’t forget that if a cushion is propelling thegoing to be used, then the extra height of the cushion must beincluded in height of the chair. wheelchair themselves?
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014For instance, if the user’s lower leg measurement is 19 inches, andthe wheelchair cushion compresses to 2 inches when sat upon,then the proper Seat-to-Floor height of the wheelchair should be 17inches to accommodate the extra 2 inches of the cushion.Generally speaking, a half inch leeway is given if you can’t findexactly the height you need. Any more than an inch of leeway,however, will force the wheelchair user to sit unsafely on the edgeof the wheelchair or slouch in the wheelchair in an effort to reachthe ground.Many wheelchairs offer a variety of Seat-to-Floor heights by Seat-to-Floor height can be adjusted with wheel/casterutilizing a variety of wheel /caster and axle positions. In wheelchair combinations and axlelexicon, a caster is the front wheel and the wheel is the rear wheel. adjustmentsPhysics tells us that a larger wheel is easier to propel than asmaller one and that a smaller caster will have more difficulty inground transitions such as doorway thresholds. So before youchoose a smaller wheel and caster size, make sure the personusing the wheelchair is strong enough to manage the smallerwheel sizes.
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014How do I know what SeatSize to Order?Because people come in various sizes, wheelchairs mustalso. Why does it matter that a wheelchair fit a personappropriately? Just like clothing, a good fit makes forcomfortable use.A wheelchair seat that is too wide for its user will leavethe user stretching his arms out in an unnatural position topropel it. This will lead to quick fatigue and even injury ifthe user is forced to propel any substantial length of time.A seat that is too deep for a user will force him to slideforward or “sacral sit” in the wheelchair so that the backof the legs don’t hit the edge of the seat. This type ofsitting creates bad posture leading to sore backs and thepossibility of pressure ulcers forming on the buttocks.So, it is important to consider the proper wheelchair seatsize before buying a wheelchair. To measure for theappropriate seat size, ask the user to sit upright in a regularchair or wheelchair. To obtain seat width measurement,measure across the lap from the outside of one thigh tothe outside of the other. This will give you the appropriatewidth of the user, but not the appropriate seat size. Add aninch or two to the lap measurement so that the wheelchairdoesn’t pinch the user and to also accommodate for anyweight gain that may occur in the future.CONSIDER THIS:On average, users sit in theirwheelchairs for 10 hours per day
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014It is important that the seat be deep enough to support the entirefemur or upper leg. This allows the pressure created from sitting tobe supported across the entire seating area instead of solely on thebuttocks. To obtain the proper seat depth measurement, measurefrom the back of the calf to the back of the buttocks. Once youhave this measurement, subtract two inches from it to get theproper seat size. This will allow the back of the legs to movewithout hitting the seat edge. For instance, if the wheelchair user’smeasurement is 18 inches, the appropriate seat depth is 16 inches.Have a question? Call us, we can help1-800-898-9014
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014Do I need to know theBack Height?Not necessarily. There are many variables in determiningthe best back height, but none are critical considerationsunless the user is aggressively propelling the wheelchair ina manner in which his shoulder blades are being inhibitedby the presence of a back that is too high. For most users,the back height should be tall enough to lend supportwithout interfering with wheelchair propulsion. Thismeasurement can be had by measuring the sitting userfrom the seat surface to bottom of the shoulder blades. Ifyou are uncertain whether a back height is proper, manymodels of chairs have adjustable back heights that can bechanged once the user begins using the wheelchair.What Armrests should I choose,Full Length or Desk Length?Since most wheelchairs offer two different styles of armrest,this is one of the easier decisions to make. Generally speaking,the following guidelines should be followed in choosing thearmrests. If the user is able to transfer from the wheelchairindependently but is unsteady, then Full Length Armrests offerthe best support for making the transfer. By being positioned outnear the edge of the chair, Full Length armrests give the userthe ability to push off of them to assist in standing.However, because Full Length Armrests are so far forward, theywill interfere with the wheelchair user’s ability to get close todesks or tables. That is why many people choose to go withDesk Length Armrests.
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014In addition to Desk and Full Length Armrests, some wheelchairs MOST IMPORTANToffer Adjustable Height Armrests too. These are valuable for QUESTIONS:taller users whose elbows would not rest comfortably on thearmrests if the user is sitting properly upright in the chair or Can the userwhen a thick cushion is used creating the same scenario for anaverage height person. If the user is going to be in the transfer fromwheelchair for great lengths of time, it is important for comfort the wheelchairand health that their arms rest comfortably on the armrest. independently?What are Front Riggings?Front Riggings are wheelchair terminology for footrests.Because most wheelchairs offer the ability to take the footrestson and off, the mounting systems are referred to as riggings.There are two different basic types of footrests. Swing Awayfootrests and Elevating Legrests.Swing Away footrests are the basic and most commonly usedfootrests. These are positioned 70 degrees from the seatingsurface and are sufficient for most users. Some are available withplastic or aluminum footplates but beware, while aluminumfootplates add additional strength, they also add additionalweight. Heel loops are usually available on Swing Awayfootrests and help keep the user’s feet from sliding off the backof the footplate.Elevating Legrests are just as the name suggests. The footrestcan be raised and lowered to accommodate the user’s needs.They will have a calf pad on them to support the leg when thelegrest is in the elevated position. Elevating Legrests are usedwhen one or both legs of the user are unable to bend to 70degrees. The Elevating Legrest can be set at a degree of elevationthat is comfortable for the wheelchair user. Additionally, ElevatingLegrests are used for persons that have extreme edema orswelling in their lower legs. The common practice of elevating thelegs helps the fluids that are trapped in the lower leg circulatebetter.
MOBILITY4LESS.com | 1-800-898-9014Are all Handrims the Same?Definitely not. Many wheelchairs manufacturers offer composite oraluminum handrims. While composite handrims may be a tiny bitlighter, they tend to get nicked up over time creating a rough andsometimes jagged surface. Aluminum, however, is extremelydurable and comfortable to grip. Given a choice, we would alwaysrecommend choosing aluminum handrims over composite.Some wheelchairs offer plastic coated handrims that may or maynot have projections coming off of them. The plastic coated Weight, user’s ability to propel,handrims are slightly thicker and much easier to grip than comfort and durability arealuminum or composite. This type of handrim works especially important factors when considering handrims.well for someone with severe arthritis in their hands or a lack ofgrip strength. If the user’s hand is so damaged as to be unable togrip at all, then plastic coated handrims with projections protrudingfrom the rim is a viable alternative to giving up the use of handpropulsion entirely.Still have a question? Call us, we can help1-800-898-9014This wheelchair guide is meant to be just what the name implies, aguide. If you should have further questions regarding your or aloved one’s wheelchair, we encourage you to seek assistance froma qualified therapist or wheelchair seating specialist. Make sure theperson with whom you speak is ATP certified by RESNA.For questions regarding the purchase of a wheelchair, pleasecontact Mobility4Less at 1-800-898-9014 or online atwww.mobility4less.com.