People may initially view wheelchairs as a sign of disability; however, many do not know that appropriately prescribed custom wheelchairs and seating systems can give people back their ABILITY and independence with activities that may have been previously impossible. If you have a neurological or other medical condition that is significantly affecting your mobility, you may benefit from a custom wheelchair evaluation.
What Do I Need to Do?
The wheelchair evaluation process starts with your physician. Tell them you are interested in a custom wheelchair to assist your mobility needs. He/she will need to provide an order for a “custom wheelchair evaluation,” as well as a history and physical to the seating clinic and therapists. The clinic will then contact you to schedule an appointment.
What Does the Process Entail?
- Posture Evaluation – to determine your postural impairments and assess if you have the flexibility to sit with optimal postural alignment. This assessment will allow the therapist to recommend appropriate options to address balance, improve posture, improve mobility, and decrease the risk of skin breakdown.
- Wheelchair Evaluation – to determine the most efficient and functional means of mobility. A therapist and assistive technology professional (ATP) will assist the patient in trialing a variety of wheelchairs, seat backs, cushions, frame types for manual wheelchairs, and/or systems/options that can be set up on a power wheelchair.
- Wheelchair Training – to optimize function in multiple environments. We have access to areas to simulate obstacles frequently encountered in a person’s typical environment. Options include grass, gravel, sloped sidewalks, curb cuts, and curbs.
- Final Fitting – the complex rehabilitation team and patient complete the process by fitting the patient into the recommended customized equipment. Adjustments are made as needed to ensure that the patient’s seating and positioning needs are being met with the recommended equipment.
Types of Wheelchairs
- Manual Wheelchairs – appropriate for people with good upper body strength and endurance. Different options:
- Rigid vs. Folding Frame
- Solid Backrest (various heights and lateral support)
- Footplate vs. Swing-Away Leg rests
- Skin Protective
- Postural Positioning
- Combination of Both
- Power-Assist Add-Ons
- Power Wheelchairs – may be appropriate if limited arm strength, significant shoulder pain, limited cardiovascular endurance, need for increased assistance with positioning.
- Front-Wheel, Mid-Wheel, or Rear-Wheel Drive
- Power Tilt, Recline, leg rests, Elevation, Standing
- Drive Control – Joystick, Mouth stick, Head-Array, Sip and Puff
- Additional Postural Supports
- Cushions as Above
“Mobility is a precondition for enjoying human rights and living in dignity.” (World Health Organization)
Providing appropriate and efficient wheelchairs can enhance mobility and begin to open (or re-open) a world of education, work, social life, and love to people with limited mobility, as well as assist them in becoming productive members of society. Sage’s Wheelchair and Seating Clinic can get you on your way to doing just that. Contact us today to get your process rolling!