Approximately 500,000 people in United Kingdom have mobility problems severe enough to require either part-time or full-time use of a wheelchair. From children to senior citizens, wheelchairs are a necessary part of everyday life. Understandably, the challenges of living life from a wheelchair are often frustrating and disheartening. No one chooses to be in a wheelchair, and those 500,000 can use all the help they can get to make life a little bit easier.
Best Light Wheelchairs in UK 2018
|Max User Weight|
|Patterson Medical Days Escape Lite Aluminium Wheelchair||Attendant-propelled||53 cm||10.5||100||Check Prices|
|Simplelife Mobility Lightweight Folding Transit Wheelchair||Attendant-propelled||58 cm||10.5||116||Check Prices|
|Swift Self-Propelled Wheelchair ||Self Propelled||59 cm||10.2||115||Check Prices|
|Dash Express Ultra Lightweight Folding Attendant Propelled Wheelchair||Attendant-propelled||56 cm||10.4||100||Check Prices|
|Drive DeVilbiss TraveLite Lightweight Transport Chair||Attendant-propelled||56 cm||10||115||Check Prices|
|Elite Care folding self propel wheelchair||Self Propelled||64 cm||14.5||115||Check Prices|
A wheelchair provides mobility and independence for people who have lost the use of their legs. Their disability may have resulted from an unfortunate accident or the effects of an illness. The wheelchair restores their ability to move around independently without the need for assistance and offers people access to work and shopping or any other travel outside their house.
Picking the right wheelchair
Purchasing a wheel chair in the not-too-distant past was a relative uncomplicated procedure. All wheelchairs were manually operated, so the basic concerns in selecting one was in finding the most comfortable fit.
But the technological advances win wheel chair design made wheelchairs an option for those whose size or physical condition would once have made it impossible for them to buy a wheelchair. Anyone who decides to buy a wheel chair which operates electrically can expect to spend between £4,000 and £20,000, so the decision to buy a wheel chair needs to be considered carefully.
First thing, you probably need to do is to think of what is required out of that wheelchair. Is it just for day to day use? Has it got to be foldable so that you can put it into a vehicle boot? Has it got to have reclining function? Do you need a wheelchair that climb stairs? In the back of our head we can already think of the various types of wheelchairs available in this ever-changing industry. Disabled wheelchair, lightweight titanium wheelchairs, children wheelchairs, bariatric wheelchairs, paraplegic wheelchair, transport wheelchair and sports wheelchair.
The manual wheelchair is still appropriate for those whose physical condition will let them propel it, or who have someone available to push them. Manual wheelchairs have been available for a long time, and recent years have seen the advent of the power chair, or motorized wheelchair. Even though the power chair is a welcome innovation for people with severe disabilities, some individuals may prefer the speed and mobility of a manual chair. This type of wheelchairs weigh between four and thirty pounds; the user’s strength will be a big factor when he or she decides to buy a wheel chair.
For people who want to participate in wheelchair sports, or for people who may only use a manual wheelchair occasionally (like when their power chair is being serviced), standard manual wheelchairs are much too heavy to move. Fortunately, lightweight wheelchairs are now available that can be moved more easily. Lightweight wheelchairs make it possible for the user to participate in sports like basketball and tennis, and to propel themselves more easily.
Lightweight wheelchairs are often referred to as K4 wheelchairs, because of the US Medicare reimbursement code (K0004) for manual wheelchairs that weigh 34 pounds or less. Most lightweight folding wheelchairs in this class weigh between 29 and 33 pounds. They include features like flip-back arm rests, adjustable back heights, and adjustable seat heights. Lightweight wheelchairs can be quite affordable, with low-end, online prices running in the £100 to £300 range.
Self Propelled Manual Wheelchair
f you want to be able to propel yourself using the push rims on the outside of the wheels then you will need a self-propel wheelchair. This type of wheelchair have large rear wheels and hand rims to push the wheels round with. Although self propelled wheelchairs are designed to be push by the user himself, they are many times chosen by the people who don’t want to propel the wheelchair themselves, but merely buy this wheelchair due to the comfort of the ride given by the much larger rear wheels. These chair also have handles at the rear which can be use to push the chair by the attendant.
If you don’t possess the strength to proper the wheelchair yourself, then a transit wheelchair may be the better option. They have small rear wheels that makes it easier to be pushed by others. The standard size of the transit wheelchair is about 12 inches. Most model of transit wheelchairs offers additional brakes for the attendants. Transit models are also lighter in weight for transporting and take up less space in the boot of the car.
Measuring For A Good Fit
For those weighing more than 300 pounds, it is suitable to buy a wheelchair that is heavy duty and extra wide, also known as a bariatric wheelchair. To determine if a wheel chair will accommodate its potential user, place a measuring tape beneath him or her to determine the seat width, and add two inches on either side.
To measure a person for seat depth, have him or her sit upright and measure from a point two inches in back of the knees to the rear edge of the seat.
The proper height for the wheel chair seat will correspond to the user’s height; a 15” seat is a good fit fro kids and petite adults 4’11” and under; for those between 5’ and 5’4”, an 18” seat should work; and a 20” seat is a comfortable fit for those 5’5” and taller. Before you decide to buy a wheelchair, have the user try it on for size so that any adjustments can be made before you take it home.
Those who have little upper body strength with little head and trunk control need to buy a wheel chair with a higher back. And those who have poor upper body strength and cannot easily shit their position need wheel chairs which either recline at a 45 degree angle, or have memory foam cushioning to help them minimize the pressure on their backs, buttocks, and thighs and prevent bedsores.
Traveling With A Wheelchair
People who are able to get out and about might want to buy a collapsible transport wheel chair which can be used for excursions and will fit in a car’s trunk. The transport wheel chair must either be pushed, or maneuvered by the user’s feet. Power wheelchairs are not collapsible, and people who use them usually travel by van with specially designed wheel chair lifts.
Before you buy a wheel chair, measure all the tight spaces in the user’s environment through which it will have to fit; widen the necessary doorway and move what furniture you need to. It would be very frustrating to buy a wheelchair which is a perfect fit for it user but an impossibly bad fit for the places where it will be used! Before you actually buy a wheel chair, make sure the armrests, footrests, and any other add-ons you want will fit on the frame you have chosen.
Electric Wheel Chairs
The first electric wheelchairs were introduced in America in the 1950s. Whereas today’s electric wheelchairs could rightly be called “electronic,” the first wheelchairs were truly merely electric. The E& J 840 was a simple machine that had no circuit boards and no smooth, proportional control like today’s electric wheelchairs. Instead, the joystick was pushed or pulled against 4 on/off switches which would cause the chair to jerk when it started, stopped or changed directions. Some of the jerkiness was mitigated by the two very heavy series wound or field coil motors which would start up slowly. This was extremely inefficient, not to say downright excruciatingly slow. The chair had two basic speeds, high and low. The chair had two six-volt batteries which were connected in parallel for low speed and in series for high speed. You would have to be stopped to switch between the two speeds.
The next big step in motorised wheelchair development was the introduction of electronic circuitry and proportional control drive. This allowed the wheelchair rider to have greater control over the operation of the chair. Now, the further the wheelchair rider moved the joystick in the direction she wanted to travel, the faster the chair would go in that direction. Electronic circuitry also allowed for the replacement of the series wound motors with much more efficient and lighter permanent magnet motors. Now, instead of being limited to starting off at a crawl, the wheelchair rider could start off at any speed the chair was capable of.
The first of these proportional drive wheelchairs was the Motorette, which was an add-on unit to a manual wheelchair. The two 12-volt motors sat on top of the rear wheels just behind the rider. The motor shafts turned a small cog which pressed against the rear tire. The cogs would slip when the tires got wet or if they weren’t fully inflated. Although the batteries were placed forward under the wheelchair, the weight of the motors made the chair tippy. When the Motorette malfunctioned, “it went crazy and acted like a bucking bronco,” said one person familiar with the chair at the time. Still, the Motorette, when it was working right, made for a faster and smoother ride.
Most of the early electric wheelchairs used a slightly modified manual wheelchair frame with wheelchair batteries, belt-drive motors and a control box added on. The rear axle mounts were placed further back on the frame, pushing the center of gravity of the chair forward to compensate for the added weight of the batteries in the back. Little else was done to the frame. Wheelchair manufacturers, at this time principally Everest and Jennings, hadn’t figured that the chairs would be used by active persons outside the home or institution. This led to serious problems when an electric wheelchair rider would drive his chair into a curb at the lightening speed of 3 miles per hour, bending the caster forks and cracking the frame.