What to Know Before Buying a Wheelchair for a Trip

If you're planning a trip that requires a lot of walking, but you don't think you can keep up due to a medical condition or recent injury, consider buying a wheelchair. If your doctor determines that a wheelchair is medically necessary for you, your insurance may even pay for it. However, if it's just for your own convenience, you may need to go to a medical equipment store and buy one yourself. Here are some things to know about buying a wheelchair.

Wheelchairs Come In Different Sizes

You want to buy the right size for the most comfort. Sizes are measured by the width of the seat, but the best way to know if a chair will be comfortable is to sit in it. A seat that's too narrow will be too uncomfortable to sit in for long, and a seat that is too wide might be uncomfortable if you can't rest your arms on the armrests properly.

Wheelchairs Have Different Arm Styles

You might not have noticed, but wheelchair arms are made in different ways. For the most versatility, you may want a wheelchair that has arms that drop out of the way. These arms are usually called desk-length arms, and they are short enough that you can rest your elbows on them and still pull the wheelchair up to a table to eat. The other arm option is the fixed, full-length arms. The advantage to these is that you can rest your entire arm on them rather than just your elbows, plus they add more protection on the sides to keep you secure in the chair. However, because the arms are longer, when you pull the chair up to a table, you'll be too far away to eat comfortably.

Wheelchairs Have Different Weights

When you go to the medical equipment store to shop for a wheelchair, explain why you want one so you get help choosing the right chair. You'll need to balance the need for comfort against the weight of the chair. A transport chair is light so it can be picked up easily and stowed in the trunk of a car. However, a very lightweight chair may not be the most comfortable for sitting in several hours at a time. You might consider buying a gel seat cushion as well so you can spend as much time as you need in the chair without getting sore spots.

A wheelchair can come in handy when you want to spend a day shopping or going to an attraction. You'll have more comfortable and secure seating than if you buy a rolling walker, yet you can still walk when you want by pushing the empty chair. Plus, the wheelchair can carry bags and other supplies you might pick up over the course of the day. Most of all, a wheelchair might allow you to take trips you would otherwise have to pass up because of a medical problem that keeps you from being on your feet for long periods of time.