When you begin the process of obtaining a new power chair, it’s important to understand that the process is very slow, but once you have the power wheelchair you want, it is the best thing ever. You start off by getting fitted for a new wheelchair, and then they build a chair that is right for you. Learn about the power of choice and power wheelchair options available to you. This may sound simple enough, but it can be complicated.
After taking measurements, and going through any approvals for insurance, the chair is ordered. The chair is delivered to your provider, you’ll be fitted with a cushion that gives you the best comfort and support. You’ll also receive a back cushion. All these components serve a purpose in meeting your needs. If none of this is being done, please make sure that you advocate for yourself. This part of the getting the new wheelchair is so important and everything should fit you perfectly. You are going to be sitting in this power wheelchair for long periods of time every day. You need to be comfortable and in a good position where you can operate all the functions of your chair. And, most importantly, you need to have pressure relief.
Once you are fitted and comfortable in your chair, now comes the fun part. You get to learn how to drive these little “speed demon” power chairs. That can be fun and overwhelming at the same time. Make sure make you don’t start out too fast (and you probably will) because you don’t want to run into walls. This could happen if you aren’t careful. I have experienced this myself (oops). As you get comfortable and learn more about the power of your wheelchair make sure that you understand the turning capabilities. There are different types of wheelchairs out there, like front-wheel drive, mid-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. They all feel very different. If you make the switch from one type of drive wheel to another, it may take you longer to adjust. If you feel that the chair turns too fast or too slow, your provider can adjust how fast or how slow your chair reacts when you are driving. They can adjust how easy or hard it is to push the button or joystick (depending on what you are using) and they can make changes to how fast you accelerate. Acceleration can be raised or lowered, depending on your comfort. Making these adjustments are important, not just for your safety but for the safety of people around you. If your provider is not making these adjustments, then make sure you ask them. The option is there!
Once you’re a pro at driving and turning, it’s time go out in the world, but I do advise you to work on driving up and down ramps. There are different kinds of ramps in every situation and they are never the same. The more you practice, the better you get at driving up and down ramps. It’s sometimes a fun and challenging game. At the end of the day, as long as you can do as much as you want to do within the limits of your power wheelchair’s capabilities, the world is yours!
One more thing. Always keep your chair plugged in for charging whenever you aren’t using it. People always forget about maximizing the life of their batteries. If you don’t keep good charging habits and charge your wheelchair fully and regularly, your batteries won’t last as long. I’ve had batteries that lasted up to six years. So, you never know. Just take care of your batteries and they will take care of you.
About Jesse Cuellar: Jesse is an artist and a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. An accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, so he uses his mouth to paint and expresses himself through his art. Jesse lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoys painting and hanging out with his friends. Click here to learn more about Jesse.