Author Topic: Powered wheelchairs  (Read 3180 times)

Bliss

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Powered wheelchairs
« on: August 05, 2013, 10:15:54 AM »
One for powered wheelchair users.....I'm starting shopping for powered wheelchairs this week, and just have one question (for now!). I have a manual wheelchair currently, but I've got to the point where I can't use it alone without someone pushing me. I no longer have the upper body strength to use it, and I've recently developed a weakness in my left side, so I'm currently stuck in the house most of the time.

I need a wheelchair that can be used outdoors and indoors, particularly indoors for when I'm at work. At work I need it to be fairly manoeuvrable to get around the office, and in and out of security doors and other offices. My question is whether I'm right in thinking that for manoeuvrability I'd be best with a mid-wheel drive chair? Also, is there any particular manufacturer of power-chairs that are recommended for build quality and reliability?

ditchdwellers

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2013, 11:30:25 AM »
If you need it for work have you considered asking for access to work to fund it for you.   They would also be able to make some suggestions for you.
I have a mid wheel drive quickie salsa m which I really enjoy.   It gives a really smooth ride and great functionality.

Bliss

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2013, 09:54:42 AM »
Thanks - I have to admit, I never considered contacting Access to Work. They've helped with funding for a lot of support for me in the past. I'm not sure if they'd consider funding a wheelchair though. They've considerably changed their eligibility criteria recently and will now only fund equipment which isn't normally found in the workplace or that have to be considerably adapted or custom made for the individual.

I have a contact at A2W though who's no longer the A2W assessor for my area, though he was in the past, and was the first A2W assessor who dealt with me when I first needed support, and he dealt with me for a number of years. Though he no longer covers my area, I still stay in contact with him and keep him updated with how I'm doing work-wise. He refers to me as one of his "success stories"  >biggergrin< because when I first contacted A2W I'd been off work for almost 3 years, though fortunately I was still under contract with my employer. It was only with his support that I managed to get back to work, albeit with a lot of support and reasonable adjustments, and working part-time rather than full-time, which I've maintained since then. I often call him for 'informal' advice, so I might give him a call and explain my current situation, and see if he thinks it's likely that I'd be able to get some funding.

devine63

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2013, 12:17:52 AM »
Hi Bliss

do actually contact A2W themselves and ask the question - for a while they did have a list of things they were no longer allowed to recommend, but that list has been dropped.  I have that from the head of the A2W programme in person.   It is a matter of your A2W assessor "making the case" for what you need - then they discuss with your employer and work it out.  If you get nowehere let me know as I may have some useful contacts
regards, Deb

Bliss

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2013, 12:28:08 AM »
Thanks Deb, I'll do that.

WheeledTraveler

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2013, 05:45:08 PM »
I don't know as much about powerchairs in the UK, but is there any way for you to even do a very short demo of chairs with the different drive configurations? I absolutely adore my mid-wheel drive powerchair, but quite a few of the reasons I love it don't have anything to do with the drive configuration. I do like being able to turn on my own base, but do remember that that means that you have to have that much clearance 360 around the chair. So if you have a tight corner to get into a room you're still going to need to start turning early to make it through the door. And if you don't have space around you as wide as your length, you'll still end up having to backup out of where you are. That said, I much prefer it over the other chairs I've tried (mostly RWD, I think).

Also, how much you're going to use outside and in the conditions will make a difference. Forward-wheel drive is going to be best if you regularly have to get through things like snow. I think people who off-road the most tend to like rear-wheel drive. You do have to occasionally be careful with midwheel drive on overly steep ramps because there is a level getting on the ramp where your drive wheels can leave the ground. I've only had this happen once or twice, though, and never when dealing with a ramp that was anywhere near code. I have had some issues on ice with getting traction, but, again, that's unusual and takes fairly extreme conditions. (My problems were in the middle of a very snowy and cold winter in NYC and I'm not sure much of the UK gets anything like what I was dealing with)

As far as brands go, I know brands I generally trust for reliability that do sell in the UK are Quickie, Permobil, Pride, and Invacare. They're all major brands. Permobil is based out of Sweden and the rest are American companies, IIRC. I know Quickie, Pride, and Invacare do carry some more general powerchairs as well as what are known as "rehab powerchairs" (more customized and often with features like power tilt, power recline, or a seat lift). Permobil may only do rehab powerchairs. As you can imagine, the rehab powerchairs are the most expensive. I wouldn't expect AtW to fund a rehab powerchair, but I could be wrong. The closest US equivalent to AtW did help a friend fund a rehab powerchair over here, and they aren't generally nearly as good as AtW.

If you do end up self-funding, you may want to look at used powerchairs, as well as new ones. I bought mine (I have a Pride Quantum 600) off Craigslist and was able to get a rehab chair that fits my needs better than a standard power chair, but at a very low price. It's not a fail-safe method, I know other people who've managed similar luck when it comes to Craigslist, ebay, and other second hand websites. The one thing you really have to be careful with buying used is the condition of the batteries, but if needed you can buy new ones (just always buy a proper brand not made in China. the batteries aren't cheap, but you'll have to replace much more often if you buy the Chinese made ones so it's more cost-effective in the long run to buy the brand name).

Sunshine Meadows

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2013, 08:07:30 AM »
Bliss,

Welcome to Ouch Too - nice avatar  >thumbsup<

I dont know much about electric wheelchairs except what I remember from my Mum having to use one.Having one that is the right size makes a big difference and also having one that can cope with indoor outdoor use means you wont need two chairs. Also dont forget leg rests.

I got a lightweight manual wheelchair via Access To Work back around 2005 so it is a long while ago. Initially there was talk of me having to leave the wheelchair at work and use my NHS one to get from the house to the taxi then from the taxi into work, but once the manager involved said that out-loud he realised how petty he was sounding and I got to use the chair as though it were mine.

I worked in a call centre and there was another wheelchair user besides me who had been allocated an electric wheelchair by Access To Work. The wheelchair was so big and heavy that the lady who could walk a bit used to leave it at work. The problem with that was some little twits would play 'chariots' with it in the late evening (I never actually saw this but was told about it a number of times by different people).

I preferred to stay in my wheelchair rather than site in the office chair provided which did cause me shoulder and back problems but it was worth it.

Thinking about it if you need Access To Work to supply you with an office chair and that is up for renewal maybe ask for the money to go to a 'multi tasking wheelchair'


lankou

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2013, 08:19:40 AM »
(http://imageshack.us/a/img600/788/54885317.jpg)

Sunshine Meadows

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2013, 08:22:02 AM »
Lankou,

'Yeah baby!'

Using that would make going to Osmotherly moors feel do- able rather than as likely as a trip to the Moon.

oldtone27

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2013, 10:52:10 AM »
I thought that shot WAS on the moon.

devine63

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2013, 07:51:21 PM »
Hi

there is no reason why Access to Work cannot supply both a wheelchair and an ergonomically designed office chair, if those are your needs.
regards, Deb

Bliss

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2013, 10:19:18 PM »
Thanks guys for all your suggestions, and my apologies for being away so long before coming back. I eventually bought a powerchair, a RWD one - a Rascal Compact 320. It's a second hand one, but in really good condition, and the shop serviced it, replaced the batteries and polished it up before they delivered it. As the salesman said, at half the price of a new one, if after a while I decide I want a new one, or a different model, a second hand one would depreciate more slowly than a brand new one. The decision as to what type I had though was essentially driven by my dad, who has a tendency to treat me as though I'm 14, not 40 (grrrr!), as according to him it needed to be one which would break down to fit in the car boot. I was the one paying, but to hear him in the shops we visited you'd have thought that he was doing the buying and paying - long story (it's just one of the annoying ways he treats me and my mum), but we're working on that. Gonna be a long-term thing battle though! I think part of it is to do with my disabilities, because I still live with my mum and dad, as I can't manage on my own, whereas he treats and talks to my younger sister completely differently. Anyway, despite this obsession with it having to fit in the car boot, I can't think of the last time he took me anywhere where I'd need to walk far enough to need to take the wheelchair - outings are normally to relatives, and he pulls up outside the door, and I can manage very short distances with either crutches or my walker. Time will tell I guess, but the next time I buy one, I'll be the one making the decisions!

Despite all that, generally I'm very happy with it so far (I've had it about a month now). After my initial excitement, which although I've never bought one (for some reason , I imagine is like buying a new car, a couple of days after I started using the wheelchair depression set in. I'm already on anti-depression after suffering from severe clinical depression in 2011 after I was bullied at work, in part due to my disabilities, and I'm still far from fully recovered. Although in some ways the wheelchair's given me more freedom and independence, in other ways it's limited me more than using my walker.  For most of my adult life I've known that eventually there would come a time I'd need a wheelchair, but I wasn't thinking it would be quite so soon. I guess I'll get used to it, but at the moment I guess I'm still getting used to it. On the bright side, though I'm having difficulty getting to/from work (long story which I'll post about separately) I can go into the local village to get the daily paper and milk if I run out, as my mum (my main carer) has gone off on holiday, so I'm 'home alone', but I do have a number of neighbours and friends who help me out. Generally though the power chair's made a huge difference to my life - I can go places I've never been able get to before because I simply can't walk far enough to get there - the new estate that's just across the road from where I live, which I've discovered is huge, or the local park, which I remember taking my nephew to when he was a toddler (he's 14 now!). It's basically freedom and that little bit more independence which for a while pre w/c I thought I'd lost forever. The best 850 I've spent for a long time!  >biggergrin<

PS:

@Lankou - WOW! Now that IS a powerchair and a half!

@SunshineMeadows - glad you like the avatar - a couple of years or so ago I got fed up of all the standard avatars, and got a logo design company to do me one, with the instruction that it had to incorporate both the female and male symbols, my initials, and angels. That was the result!

Yvette

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2013, 09:42:48 AM »
I am delighted for you.  >thumbsup<

Prabhakari

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2013, 06:19:28 PM »
Hope all goes well with the chair.

I had an interesting chat with an engineer on a train journey once.
He was designing a wheelchair for rough ground, and I told him that we needed one with light catepillar tracks.
He was interested in the idea.

I wonder. . . . . . . . .    >wheelchair<
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.

bulekingfisher

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Re: Powered wheelchairs
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2013, 04:56:15 PM »
Hello Bliss

I use a Pro Road King (mobility scooter) it is great for shopping with the basket on front I have had it for 3  nearly 4 years now + I do a lot of miles/Km's in it bus + car driver's flash their light's at me to say it is safe for me to cross a road + I raise my arm to acknolwedge them + say thank you