As a lifelong wheelchair user, I know what it is like to be overwhelmed and underwhelmed with choices when it comes to picking a new power wheelchair. When I got my first power wheelchair around the age of 12, I remember being given a few brochures and then being allowed to drive one scooter and one power chair. That’s it. I was allowed to choose which one I liked better between the scooter and the power chair, and then I was told to pick a color. Seven years later, a salesman met me at my dorm with no power wheelchairs to look at – just brochures. He asked me if I liked my current chair and if it met my needs. I told him yes, and he said “Okay, then we’ll get you the new version of that chair.” That was the end of the discussion. Again, I picked a color, and that was it. However, when it was time to get my third power wheelchair, I was in law school and I learned that I had a lot more to choose from than just color. In addition to learning about the many different types of power chairs on the market, I also learned about the different features and functions available in different power chairs. Instead of just accepting whatever my provider suggested, I was able to ask many questions, tell my provider exactly what I was looking for, and ask to see the different options available.
If you’re due for a new power wheelchair soon, here’s a few ways that you can embrace the power of choice instead of just accepting what is recommended to you by someone else:
Review Product Websites
A great way to learn about all of the different power wheelchairs on the market is to check out their websites and learn about the different functions each chair offers. For example, you can learn about Quantum Rehab wheelchairs at quantumrehab.com or lifeatilevel.com. This is the first thing I would do in my research process, but I would not stop there! Just as if I were buying a car, I would keep doing research – I would look for reviews, I would find out which companies share my values, and I would even ask others about their experiences with the products.
Ask on Social Media
If you know many wheelchair users in person, then you should ask them about their experiences with their products. However, even if you don’t know many other wheelchair users, you can learn so much from other people using social media! There are Facebook groups for wheelchair users or you can follow #wheelchair on twitter or Instagram to find other wheelchair users. I would also suggest following manufacturers on social media so you can learn about their products and offers. Quantum Rehab has a Facebook page where we often have product updates, contests, and giveaways! Check us out!
Ask to See the Products
Once you have narrowed down the power wheelchairs and features that you’re interested in, tell your provider that you want to see these products. Call them in advance and ask if they have the products in the showroom so you can try them out or if they can bring them to you for you to test drive before making your final decision. Remember, you are going to be sitting in your chair for at least five years, so you have to be happy with the chair and it needs to meet your needs! You have the power of choice!
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.