The prospect of better weather will undoubtedly tempt more disabled people to get out and about. We look at the key considerations ahead of purchasing your next mobility aid.
Good purchases start with good questions. Taking the time to audit your challenges (and capabilities) will result in making better buying decisions…
Fitness and energy
Manual mobility solutions such as a walking stick, walking frame or manual wheelchair will require at least some physical effort. With no battery back-up to draw on if you become tired, you’ll need to be confident that you aren’t going to find yourself in trouble.
The other side of the argument is that ‘the longer you keep going, the longer you will keep going’. Some manual wheelchair users are reluctant to switch to a powered alternative out of concern that they will start to relinquish their strength and fitness. It’s a fine balance.
Body weight, shape and height
The shape and size of your body may prohibit some forms of mobility aid. Take particular note of advice regarding weight capacity since exceeding limits can not only invalidate a warranty but may also make the equipment you’re using unsafe.
Similarly, if you’re looking at rollators or other walking aids, you need to check that the height of the equipment suits you. Stooping or bending too far over to use equipment is going to make matters worse. Pain in the muscles, shoulder and back area is unpleasant, to say the least.
Carefully consider your individual condition – and from different perspectives. There may be overlapping issues such as fatigue that mean some methods of propulsion are better than others.
Talk with other people you know with similar needs or with healthcare professionals such as a nurse or occupational therapist (OT) for more specific advice.
Although you may want to retain (or develop) your ability to live independently, there may be times when you’ll need help from someone else. With this in mind, you may want to consider purchasing equipment than can be pushed by an attendant, for example.
Balance, agility and strength
Different equipment relies on different forms of ability and strength. Manual wheelchair users will need decent grip, strong arms and decent upper body strength, for example. People using walking sticks and rollators will need at least some balance and stability. Not all equipment will take the full weight of its user in a leaning position, for example, while other users may need to consider whether their strengths and dexterity is equal on each side of their body.
Where do you want to go?
Any piece of equipment needs to be fit for the purpose you intend to use it for. This will include considerations for how far your average journey might be and if you might need to travel further on occasion. It also means thinking about the environment. There’s an enormous difference between tarmac and grass – not to mention suitability for use indoors. You may well want to use the same equipment whether you are in your own home or the local supermarket.
How often will you use it?
How often you use a piece of mobility equipment is likely to determine your level of investment. A wheelchair that you use throughout the day, for example, is worth spending on for comfort and safety purposes. That said, some people have a passion for their hobby such as golf or tennis and will invest in specifically designed mobility aids or wheelchairs, even though they may only use them once a week.
A motorised add-on can easily transform a manual wheelchair into a speedier form of transport before being detached and stored away for next time.
If you do spend a lot of time using your mobility equipment, you’ll need to think about and prioritise those places where you’ll be using it most frequently. Start with your own home and consider how easy it will be to move around given the existing space and even the floor surfaces – vinyl flooring is somewhat slippery, while carpet can cause drag.
Consider width of doorways and positioning of items such as toilets, beds or cupboards and so on and how you’ll transfer.
While nobody can see the future, there are a few safe bets, such as that children are likely to grow, and adults won’t get any younger. Similarly, you need to consider the trend or likely trajectory of your condition. Some of this can be solved by purchasing equipment that can be adjusted to height and width or by adding accessories.
Storage and transport
Mobility equipment is usually quite large by necessity. It can be a distinct advantage if you have room to store it away when it isn’t in use. Larger mobility scooters or equipment used exclusively outdoors is best stored in a secure garage – ideally with a power socket if it needs charging before use.
Scooter users will need to choose between a saddle (similar to a bicycle or motorcycle seat) or a ‘captain’s seat’ – a full seat with a back panel and armrests. The selection will depend on the user’s balance, strength and any postural requirements.
Wheelchair and powerchair users that use their mobility equipment throughout the day will need to look at the various seating types far more closely to prevent rubbing and difficulties with pressure sores. Attention should also be paid to posture since it can affect respiration and help to avoid muscle and joint aches.
Also consider floor to seat height. This will be an issue when users either sit or stand – or as they transfer to bed or to the toilet.
Different sizes of wheels will affect your ability to move over certain terrain, as will the style of tyres – from solid to pneumatic or slim to chunky.
Weight, width and length
These measurements may determine how difficult or easy it is to use or move equipment. Keep in mind that some transport providers such as bus and railway companies have strict rules about the size of mobility equipment that they’ll let onto their vehicles. You should check your local services to find out if there are any key measurements that might influence your choice.
Discuss and compare aftersales service, warranty and guarantees as part of the buying process. A mobility aid can be a big-ticket item that can cost money to repair or replace.
Check the dealership you go with is accredited by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA). Members abide by a code of conduct based on best practice. Check memberships via:
Try before you buy
With so many different factors and models to consider, it’s always worth looking at a variety of options and trying at least a few out before you make your decision. This is an important purchase, and you should give yourself every opportunity to get it right.
Tzora Mobility Scooters
For three decades Tzora Mobility Scooters has been helping people with their mobility. Tzora have a range of mobility scooters that cover the many and various needs of their customers.
If you’re looking for a lightweight folding scooter or class 3 road-going mobility scooter, they’ll probably stock a scooter that suits your needs. All their mobility scooters are very simple, stylish and straightforward to use and to fold. Tzora design scooters so that those using them can operate, fold and disassemble them. A very important point is that all their mobility scooters have a three-year warranty on all parts. They also all have flight certificates allowing users to take them onto aeroplanes across the world.
Delivery is free. Check out Tzora Mobility Scooters today, at: www.tzora.co.uk
Tel: 01386 576440
Get Moving with Klaxon Klick UK Ltd
The Klick motorised add-on transforms a manual wheelchair into a speedier form of mobility aid – increasing your range and optimising the enjoyment of the journey.
The linking system is easy to connect to your wheelchair and can be divided into three parts, enabling you to store it easily in a car or on a plane or wherever else your travels take you.
Connecting a Klick to your wheelchair takes just a few seconds and provides users with a powerful electric motor that make trips fast, relaxing and fun.
Because you are using your own wheelchair there’s no sacrifice of the postural or other seating benefits it provides. You simply get further, faster – and in a bit of style!
Tel: 07517 545662
Get out there with Triride
Triride technology compliments the drive performance with intelligent cruise control, and intelligent braking system makes driving with family and friends a breeze. Paired with Triride’s patented attachment method, fitting to most manual wheelchairs is possible and customisable to each individual user’s requirements.
Find out more at: www.triride.uk or contact one of their dealers to arrange your test drive today.
LETS GET GOING
Pros: Good choice for a chair to use throughout the day. Preserves user’s fitness. No batteries.
Cons:Dependent on physical strength and energy.
Other considerations: Attendant usage.
Pros: Mobility without manual effort. Easy to use.
Cons: Not always easy to manoeuvre in a domestic interiors.
Other considerations: Battery range.
Pros: Capable of longer journeys.
Cons: Too big to be used in domestic interiors or on some forms of public transport.
Other considerations: Seating style.
Pros: Compact, light and relatively inexpensive – multiple use with a seat and shopping bags sometimes included in the design.
Cons: Need ambulatory ability and stability.
Other considerations:The choice between three and four wheels, size of wheels and handle height.
Pros: Inexpensive and simple to use.
Cons: Need a bit of upper body strength to lift it from step to step.
Other considerations:Worth comparing to see if a rollator meets your needs more appropriately.
Pros:Adds speed and range to a manual wheelchair and can be used ad hoc.
Cons: Need to plan ahead and charge it up in advance.
Other considerations: Top speed will be well above the maximum allowed on pavements (4mph).