Wheelchair Recommendation and Favorite Features
As someone with spinal muscular atrophy, I understand the importance of selecting the correct wheelchair. Not only is it a huge financial commitment but is a piece of our body that we use every single day. I wanted to walk through what some of the steps are when selecting a wheelchair and what are some of the features that are possible to request.
If you’ve been around for a while now you may understand these beginning steps but for any parents who are new to this, I wanted to start from the very beginning.
What features do you want and need?
Before you start the actual process of getting your wheelchair I would encourage you to ask around or even do some Google research on the type of wheelchair you think you (or your child) would like. I have found that social media has been a wonderful place for recommendations. I have asked around two other people who have the same condition as me and found what wheelchairs they recommend and why. Your needs aren't every person's needs, but I find it helpful to find someone with a similar body type, weight, or even lifestyle to ask questions about what chairs they would recommend.
A perscription from your doctor
The first thing you will need is a prescription from your doctor for a wheelchair. This can be from your primary care physician, neurologist, or any specialist that sees you (or your child).
You will then need to find a company located near you that services people with wheelchairs and providing new equipment for people. Some of them will require a physical therapist to evaluate you or your child before a chair is ordered.
You can expect to schedule appointments for measuring, trying out different seat cushions, or other accommodations that may be needed for your child or yourself.
For your child, he or she will most likely need to be taken out of their current wheelchair if you’re getting a new one, or out of the stroller or other mobile device that your child is using, in order to try out some new wheelchairs, or be measured for other seatings. I know that many of these repair and equipment places have private rooms with beds in them or at least a soft surface to be able to sit or lay down on. I find that extremely helpful.
Many different options
I know there are many different options when it comes to wheelchairs. My personal preference would be the Permobil. I know some people are hesitant because it was originally a Swedish made product however they do have manufacturers here in the United States. I would say that Permobil is extremely reliable and durable and also comes with some of the best features.
My personal favorite features on my wheelchair.
I have five main positioning features that come with my wheelchair. (I can go into greater depth of what each feature is, some helpful tips on how to request the features and get approved and what I use them for in another article.)
- Seat elevation - this raises your seat up and down to bring the wheelchair users eye-level to different heights.
- Seat recline -this keeps the bottom of the seat in its position but allows the seat to lay back
- Seat tilt - this tilts the seat at the same time both backrest and seat changing the angle of the person sitting in the wheelchair.
- Leg lift -this bends at the knee lifting my legs up and down.
- And lastly my newest and favorite feature would be foot plate elevation - this allows me to drop my foot plate lower and higher depending on shoe or if I would like to have my feet hanging or change the position of where my ankles are.
Applying for insurance coverage
Once all the measurements and decisions are made on what wheelchairs you’ll be applying for and what features you would like, the company will then submit to insurance. You would wait for insurance approval or denial and hopefully have a new wheelchair within just a few short months.
Remember you are applying for this wheelchair therefore you may get denied, but do not be discouraged you can always appeal the denial and work with your doctors, therapist and clinicians to come up with a game plan on how to get it approved.
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