Wheelchairs are most commonly used by people who have restrictions on their mobility. A wheelchair allows you to move around with greater freedom than you may have once had without it. They provide mobility to those who would otherwise be limited or completely unable to move their legs… but that doesn’t mean that they are only for those who are unable to walk. Many people who use them are still able to walk but simply are not as mobile without it.
For example, if you have severe arthritis in your legs, heart trouble, or a weight concern, a wheelchair will allow you to move about with great freedom and without fear that your health challenges will get in the way.
There are several options available for you to enjoy. Thank goodness that we no longer live in the day and age of the wooden wheelchair of a century ago with its giant front wheels and tiny back wheels, those looked cumbersome and unstable, even if they were built with the best intentions.
Today’s wheelchairs are truly state of the art. They are lighter and stronger than when they were originally constructed from wood: they are made of such materials that they can withstand a great amount of wear and tear but are not very heavy. They do not necessarily require someone to push around the person seated in the chair…quite often the person seated in the wheelchair can move themselves about very easily, by rolling the larger wheels (now in the rear).
As well, these wheelchairs can come with adaptations to make them electric powered…the user can simply attach a battery and they are able to use a small joystick device to get around. The main benefit of these wheelchairs is the freedom and mobility that the user enjoys. With technological advances in the manufacturing of these devices, the user can move around with a great deal of ease and comfort.
Unfortunately, there are drawbacks, too. The biggest drawback is not in the wheelchair itself but rather in the design of buildings and city streets. When they were designed and built, wheelchair accessibility was not forefront in their minds. Today, many laws are in place to ensure that retrofitting and remodeling take place to allow users the freedom to get around. But the reality is that this retrofitting is not complete: there is still a lot of work to be done. However, wheelchair users can rest assured that changes are being made and wheelchairs are increasingly being designed to help users make it through narrow doorways or over high curbs with greater ease.
What else is available in the mobility industry? There are many devices that can help you get around a little more easily. Electric stair ascenders are a great device where the wheelchair user simply sits on the platform and presses a button and the platform rises along a track installed parallel to the staircase. Think of it like a cross between an elevator (which is completely vertical) and an escalator) which is diagonal and it doesn’t restrict stairway use for those who do not use wheelchairs!
Mr. Rougeaux has written numerous articles about various wheelchair equipment, mobility scooters, adjustable beds, walkers, rollators, power chairs and assistive living.