If you are a first-time wheelchair user, one key decision you are likely to be facing is whether or not to use an electric or a manual wheelchair. There are pros and cons to each one, of course, and the choice you make will no doubt be informed by the level of disability you need to contend with. That being said, there are a few universal truths concerning each type of wheelchair, which it pays to think about when making your decision.
Using a manual wheelchair
For many people, a big part of the attraction of manual wheelchairs, as opposed to electric ones, is that they are lighter and easier to manipulate. This means greater agility and manoeuvrability, two very attractive benefits to anyone who is coming to terms with a recent loss of mobility. Being able to move around tight spaces, with relative speed, under your own power is an appealing prospect, and the fact that manual wheelchairs can be easily folded into cars, gives them another edge over their electric counterparts.
It should also be noted, however, that learning to use a manual wheelchair to the extent that you are sufficiently mobile and independent can take time. Arm and shoulder muscles need to build a lot of strength before a manual wheelchair can be relied as a principal means of transport. In the meantime, it is likely that you will need handles to be attached so that someone else can help you get from place to place when the pushing gets too much. It’s great to have this possibility, but it isn’t ideal for anyone seeking full independence.
The benefits of electric wheelchairs
Necessarily larger and heavier than their manual counterparts, electric wheelchairs don’t always appeal at first to those who want to be fully independent. However, anyone who is dealing with a recent loss of mobility, and facing all of the tremendous lifestyle changes this represents, can get a great deal of benefit from using an electric wheelchair.
A model such as the Quickie Jive outdoor electric wheelchair offers independence and flexibility, and can travel as far as 25 miles on a single charge. The large central wheel makes most urban terrains easily manageable, and with a low turning circle it can get round tight corners with the minimum of fuss. Excellent suspension and adjustable seating also mean that you can travel in comfort, and unlike a manual wheelchair, there is no need for physical exertion. Although not as lightweight as manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs offer considerable advantages in terms of ease of use, and allowing a greater sense of freedom and comfort.
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