Personal mobility is a lifeline to independence. Able-bodied people can easily overlook this correlation, but people who live with mobility impairments know that your body determines how much of the world you can explore and experience on your own terms.  There are drawbacks to long-term manual wheelchair use, which include fatigue, repetitive stress injuries, and lack of power on inclines and uneven terrain.  Since our upper extremities were not designed for self-propulsion, the desire to lead an active lifestyle in a manual wheelchair could potentially be derailed over time by the limitations of the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. For people with very limited mobility, or those who lack hand strength and energy, a power chair might be the only option. Power wheelchairs (aka power chairs) can navigate different environments and terrains, operate easily in wheelchair vans, and give the user more options, support and independence.

With a power chair, no minimum strength is required so you can cover greater distances without tiring.

Different drive-trains (mid, front, or rear) offer personal preferences for different terrains (pavement, grass/dirt, etc.) The seating options of a power chair are enhanced by its ability to tilt, recline and elevate the leg rests. These features have made the power chair an essential part of everyday living for people who need rehabilitation such as those suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or other progressive diseases.

Dynamic Movement

Having a power chair allows the individual to shift between different postures throughout the day. The postures help a person remain productive and functional at all times. The periodic movements also ease pain on the person using the chair, thereby enhancing comfort.  Being able to move in a wheelchair by accessing power seating functions or non-restrictive seating systems can make a huge difference in achieving more freedom in daily activities.

Pain, Fatigue, and Sitting Tolerance

The ability to change one’s sitting position increases their comfort levels. Sitting for too long in one position is known to cause pain due to pressure. Improperly configured wheelchairs can increase the discomfort tenfold. Functional activities and sitting stability are greatly increased by tilting the seat with adjustable reclining angles.

Realigning Posture

Incorporating seat functions into the daily activities of people with disabilities of different kinds helps in carrying out daily tasks and in self-management. Gravity assisted positioning is enhanced by such seats since different terrains can be countered with the tilt of the seat. People with muscular dystrophy and children with spinal cord injury and/or cerebral palsy find this function to be invaluable.

Physiologic and Orthopedic Implications

Improving postural alignment has been seen to help individuals achieve better visual orientation, speech, respiration, arousal and alertness and in carrying out bowel and bladder movements with ease. It also aids in managing orthostatic hypotension. Risk of injury to the patient’s’ shoulders, as well as to the caregivers, is reduced by a great margin thanks to the seat functions that are available in a power wheelchair.

Managing Edema

Elevating leg rests can be used in combination with tilt to raise the legs. Tilting the chair by 30 degrees along with fully reclined leg rests (if possible) improves lower limb hemodynamic states significantly. This can be one way of managing edema.

If you have a health issue such as muscular dystrophy, ALS, cerebral palsy, spinal stenosis or any other disease that affects the central nervous system which can reshape your body, you need to select a power wheelchair that has the proper supports and cushions for your spine, lumbar, and legs. Some known heart or lung diseases can have a negative affect on the way you breath in an upright position. By purchasing a power chair with a reclining seat this can help alleviate heavy breathing or blocked air passages.

You must always work with your healthcare professional, physical therapist, occupational therapist and/or physician to determine which power chair is the best solution for you or your loved one. Visit Pace Medical Equipment & Supplies to talk to one of our power chair experts for a FREE, NO OBLIGATION power chair consultation. We accept MC/Visa/Discover cards.  Pace offers a great selection of power wheelchairs including:

Golden Power Chairs by Golden Technologies: Golden LiteRider Envy, Golden Alanté DX, Golden Compass TRO, Golden Compass HD (450lb weight capacity), Golden Compass Sport

Pride Power Chairs Jazzy Power Chair Line: The Jazzy Select® Elite, The Jazzy Select® 6, The Jazzy® Elite HD, The Jazzy® 614 HD