Photo of Anomie outside, she is wearing a black tank top and pants and is seated in her Quantum Rehab Power Wheelchair.

Power Mobility for Chronic Illness

When people think of mobility challenges, they usually only think about the loss of movement in the limbs. I have quadriparesis (weakness of all four limbs), but that is not the greatest difficulty I face when getting around sometimes. As someone with chronic illness, my biggest mobility challenges occur when my body gets thrown out of whack. The major triggers for me are viruses, stress, cold weather, and allergens. These factors affect my dysautonomia. This past month has been the worst in a long time; I’ve been experiencing a flare-up where my heart rate reaches 190bpm even while sitting up in my chair.

My other symptoms during flare-ups include severe nausea, burning pain, inflammation in my surgery areas, and dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions). All of these factors make my mobility challenges much more difficult. I am grateful to have features on my powerchair that help me cope with this while time and medications alleviate the flares. Most people with chronic illness have to stay in bed when they’re that sick, but I have the mobility assistance of essentially a bed that moves around with me. The main feature that helps me is reclining.

When I’m experiencing a flare-up, I can move from room to room as needed and take breaks by lying back. It really is like having a bed on wheels, which is a world of difference from my other power mobility devices that didn’t have reclining capabilities, forcing me to stay in bed completely during flare-ups. Another helpful feature is speed control. I’m usually a speed demon, but I know it’s not safe to be moving at high speeds when I’m sick and experiencing dystonia.

Using the “Indoor Slow” setting with the right knob turned all the way down is best during flare-ups because no matter how my hand hits the joystick, I won’t go flying in any direction that could result in a crash or injury. I should note that I always wear my seatbelt, especially during a flare-up. The main reason I remove it normally is so I can reach something in front of me or when I need to lean forward. However, I believe Quantum’s new anterior tilt feature solves that issue. I’m hopeful to return to my normal baseline soon and I’m looking forward to many things throughout the year.

Author: Anomie Fatale