What I Wish I Knew About Wheelchairs When I Was First Injured
When you become a wheelchair user, there is a lot to learn. Even the best physical therapists in the world at the best spinal cord injury rehab facilities will forget to tell you at least one important thing. And this is because there is simply too much to learn right away.
From rules and regulations to quirks that only longtime wheelchair-users now, there is more to know about wheelchairs than you may think. Here is a list of some of the most important lessons wheelchair-users have discovered since their injury and would have loved to have known when they were first injured.
Anti-Flat Tires Exist, and They’re Amazing
Gel-filled tires are now the standard for most power wheelchair wheels. Before these amazing tires were invented, power wheelchair-users would get stuck with flats on a routine basis. But with gel-filled tires, this has completely eliminated flats from ever happening on power wheelchairs.
For those who use manual wheelchairs, however, gel-filled tires aren't always the best option. Weighing more than air-filled tires, those who want a lighter ride will opt for air-filled tires instead. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of each tire before making the right decision for your lifestyle.
Look Beyond the Wheelchair Choices Your Therapists Provide
When you are purchasing your first wheelchair, this is usually done in conjunction with your physical therapist. They will present you with an array of options, and will even invite wheelchair vendors to your physical therapy session so you can try various wheelchairs.
Remember that if you are unhappy with the wheelchair options presented to you, you can search beyond the options you’ve seen. There are several wheelchairs overseas that are covered by Medicaid and Medicare for example. We highly recommend you do your research before letting a physical therapist decide the best wheelchair for you.
Most Insurance Plans Pay for a New Wheelchair Every 5 Years
When many people are discharged from the hospital and from physical therapy, they aren’t told that if they are on Medicaid or Medicare, they can receive a new wheelchair every 5 years. Maybe they forgot to tell people or perhaps they want to help the government save money, but it is your right to know that you can get a brand new wheelchair every 5 years. In order to purchase a new wheelchair, you will need to go through a wheelchair vendor near you.
You May Be Treaty Differently Depending on Your Wheelchair
How you’re perceived can be greatly influenced by the wheelchair you’re using. Numerous wheelchair-users have reported they’re treated differently depending on if they’re using a manual wheelchair vs. a power wheelchair. Many people who are trying to fit in socially or date after their injury, will opt for a manual wheelchair in hopes that they appear less intimidating. We are not recommending you use either wheelchair to appease ignorant people, but this is an interesting wheelchair-life quirk to know when you become a new wheelchair user.
Manual Wheelchairs Can Transform Into a Power Wheelchair
Thanks to power add-on inventions, whether they are battery-powered wheels or power added to a manual wheelchair in some other way, manual wheelchairs can now be completely powered. One of the newest trends is an add-on power system that is put underneath the manual wheelchair seat and comes with two wheels and a joystick. This turns a manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair, only with a look and weight of a manual wheelchair. This can be very appealing if you are frequently visiting homes that are not wheelchair accessible and you need to get lifted upstairs.
Try Not to Resent Your Wheelchair
More of a wheelchair-life truth — it’s important to recognize your wheelchair as the amazing tool that it is. Many people resent their wheelchairs, hating seeing them rolled into their rooms. But it is important to know that this is a huge invention for humanity that has helped millions of people leave the solitude of their beds and live independent lives. Love the wheelchair, but hate the injury.
Don’t Be Afraid of DIY
As you live your life as a wheelchair user, you'll see that you can do many of the repairs that you need to be done to your wheelchair without the help of a wheelchair repair person or physical therapist. The same goes for accessories you may need for your wheelchair, whether it’s a specialized bag or a compartment for hiding your phone, many people will create these on their own or commission, someone, they know who could do it for them.
Remember, advice from other wheelchair-users is always some of the best advice you will receive as a wheelchair-user. Keep this in mind as you live your life and move forward. Also, don't forget to check in on social media sites like Youtube for videos from folks who will inform you even more about wheelchair life.
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Spinal Cord Team