Electric wheelchairs

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The first decision for an arthritis patient to make is to choose either a powered wheelchair or a manual wheelchair.

This choice can will depend on both economic or physical issues. Before purchasing a wheelchair, be sure to consult with an occupational or physical therapist. It is also a good idea to speak with other people who have purchased or have used the type of wheelchair you're interested in. They'll be able to give you some good advice.

The types of electric vehicles available on the market are divided into three main categories: powered (electric) wheelchairs, scooters and buggies.

Each category has different models and accessories.

Before purchasing a specific model, you should always try out the vehicle both in the house and outside, over the primary routes you will be traveling. Make sure you are comfortable with the vehicle and it is suited to your needs.

Powered vehicles may not be acceptable for all people. If you have a other disabilities affecting vision or balance, you should seek professional advice before purchasing a powered model.

It may be a good idea to rent a vehicle for a short time. If a self-propelled vehicle doesn't satisfy your needs, then another type of wheelchair might be more suitable.

Before you are choosing a powered wheelchair to replace a standard manual wheelchair, it may be worth considering a high performance manual wheelchair instead.

High-performance wheelchairs are lightweight and have big rear wheels which can be adjusted forward more than those on a standard manual wheelchair. This lessens the effort needed to propel or push this kind of chair. The reduced weight makes it easier for lifting and transporting. A high performance chair can be a good choice if a powered vehicle is going to be frequently transported in car or van that is not adapted for wheelchairs.

Another alternative to consider if transportation over distance is important and you are capable of using your arms is a scooter or buggy.

Motorized wheelchairs need an external power source. They use a battery that must be re-charged on a regular basis. These wheelchairs are significantly heavier than most manual wheelchairs because they must accommodate both the battery weight and the weight of any additional other needed equipment.

The following information came from either one of the wheelchair manufacturers or the Arthritis Foundation... I'm not sure which one... so I apologize in advance

Power Wheelchairs vs Manual Wheelchairs

• Powered by a battery - Less physical exertion.
• Easily go uphill - Manual chairs could have difficulty.
• No need for someone to assist you
• Freedom

Medicare and Insurance for Wheelchairs

With your doctor’s approval, Medicare should cover 80% of your wheelchair. Your supplemental or secondary insurance will cover the remainder. Medicare must be your primary insurance carrier in order to file the initial claim with them. If you have secondary insurance, often they will pay any remaining amount that Medicare did not cover. If Medicare is your secondary insurance carrier, you must first file a claim with your primary insurance carrier, wait until you are reimbursed by them, and then file with Medicare with any remaining balance.

Leading Electric Wheelchair Manufacturers

Invacare - Invacare is an industry leader in the $6-billion market for home medical products, manufacturing and distributing the world's broadest product offering to approximately 15,000 independent, home medical equipment (HME) providers. Invacare reports results along three geographic segments (North America, Europe and Australasia) and groups its products into four distinct product categories (Standard, Rehab, Medical Supplies and Respiratory).

Permobil - One of the most respected names in power wheelchairs. Permobil chairs are light, strong and offer features that can be customized to an individual's needs, like programmable electronics, a choice of operating systems (joystick, head control, sip-and-puff control, etc.), and a range of power options.

21st Century Scientific - 21st Century Scientific, Inc. manufactures Bounder power wheelchairs and accessories. Some models with speeds up to 12mph, some for users up to 1000 lbs.

Sunrise Medical - Sunrise Medical is one of the world's largest manufacturers of homecare and extended care products. Founded in 1983, the Sunrise Medical family of products has been built from many of the most popular brands in the homecare industry including Quickie, Sopur, Jay, DeVilbiss, Hoyer, Guardian, Coopers, Oxford and Joerns. Sunrise operates manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain.

Pride Mobility Products Corp - Pride Mobility is an industry leader in the design, development and manufacture of mobility products—power chairs, scooters and lift chairs—is an enduring organization comprised of persons committed to the service of individuals with disabilities and mobility impairments.

Teftec Mobility - Teftec specializes in designing, assembling and marketing motorized wheelchairs. Introduced the TransmissionSteering™ system.

More about wheelchairs...

There are many types and styles of wheelchairs. For optimal mobility, it is very important to find a wheelchair that best suits you. For instance, if you plan to use a wheelchair outdoors, buy a wheelchair that is designed for outdoor use. If a wheelchair that is designed for indoor use is used outside, serious injury can occur to the user.

Some features to consider:

• Weight
• Designed for outdoors/indoors
• Size
• Weight capacity
• Ability to fold into a standard trunk
• Power source of electric wheelchairs. Wheelchairs with a rear wheel power source usually move faster than wheelchairs with a front wheel power source.
• Reclining back
• Removable armrests
• Adjustable footrests
• Swingaway footrests
• Seat widths
• Warranty
• Cost

Get more information about electric wheelchairs and related issues as well as...

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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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