What are the differences between wheelchairs? | Aging in Place Solutions

What are the differences between wheelchairs? | Aging in Place Solutions

It can be difficult to know what type of wheelchairs needed. Don’t worry you aren’t the only one! How is a wheelchair paid for? Who's going to push it? How will we transport it? Since there are a ton of things to consider let's break it down by type of chair.

Standard Wheelchair

This type of wheelchair is the one most people picture when they think of a wheelchair. Even though this type is common there are some important things to consider when using one. Proper positioning in the wheelchair is vital to keeping the person safe and prevent pressure sores from forming. Ensuring the wheelchair is the correct size for the person is crucial to help ensure comfort for the person. If use of the chair is going to be temporary and not daily this type of chair can be a good option because it can be obtained quickly. If someone just needs a chair for "just in case" we often recommend buying a recycled one and using the insurance benefit when/if a custom one is really needed daily in the future.

These chairs ARE covered by most insurance plans. We've created a guide for you on the steps to complete in order to get it covered by insurance. Download it here!


Transport Wheelchair

A transport wheelchair can benefit caregivers when taking loved ones to appointments making it easier to lift the chair into the car. Its also great if the person can walk but long distances are a challenge.

They are lighter weight and have a smaller profile. The main reason is because it does not have the large push rims and wheels which saves 4-5 inches or width and a few pounds of weight.So that means the person using the chair will need to propel with their feet or they will need to be pushed. So keep that in mind!

One trick we love transport wheelchairs for is getting through narrow bathroom doorways! If walking through the door is not possible and the current wheelchair is too wide you could try offset hinges or finding a contractor to widen the doorway but a transport wheelchair could also do the trick!

Transfer into it before going to the bathroom and get in the doorway without costly remodels which might not be necessary in the long term if this is a temporary issue!

Unfortunately, these chairs are not covered by insurance. So if you need one get it from us here


Power Wheelchairs

Power wheelchairs can be beneficial for people that have cardiovascular issues or have limited arm strength to push a standard wheelchair. There are 3 kinds of chairs that are considered power wheelchairs: scooters, standard power wheelchairs and custom power wheelchairs. Power wheelchairs have many features to facilitate independence with daily tasks and many of them can be covered by insurance! Use our guide to help initiate the process of getting it through insurance!

In general scooters are what you see most often in the community with the handle bars to drive them. Standard power wheelchairs are usually a captain seat with a joystick to drive it. A complex or custom power wheelchair is built for the person based on the specific components recommended by their medical team.  

Custom Manual Wheelchairs

Did you know that custom manual wheelchairs are not just for those with a spinal cord injury? If the person has the strength to push a chair and needs to use the chair daily, a custom chair is always a better option than a standard chair because they are lighter and has all types of customizable features to make life easier when using it. 

Like a power chair it requires an evaluation to get it covered by insurance and takes some time but when you consider that it may be the place that a person may spend most or all of their waking hours it's a worthwhile time investment to get one that meets their needs the best. Use our guide to get started on getting one through insurance.

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Brandy Archie, OTD, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is a certified Living in Place Professional with past certifications in low vision therapy, brain injury and driving rehabilitation.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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