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Having to move from a manual to a power wheel chair might be seen by many wheelchair users as a negative thing as it is usually an indication that their physical abilities are deteriorating. Even though this is true in most circumstances, the timely progression from a manual to a power wheelchair might actually slow down that user’s deterioration and can actually improve their prognosis for the long term.
Humans are made to use walking as their primary mode of mobility. For those who are unfortunate to be wheelchair bound because of an accident or medical condition need to find other ways to be mobile.
For those who cannot walk for one reason or another, a manual wheelchair provides a great mobility option for those in the early stages of the medical condition that put them in the wheelchair. A wheelchair is not the most natural form of mobility and the arms play a bigger role in mobility if a manual wheelchair is being used. The arms will also come into play when moving from the wheelchair to toilets, beds, into vehicles etc that put quite a bit of extra stress on the shoulders and arms.
Transition from Manual Wheelchair to Power Chairs
Manual wheelchair users delay the progression into a power chair because of pride and most will put it off making the move to the power chair as long as possible. This is a prevailing attitude of those who were in wheelchair from an early age or those who were actively involved in sports. Sometimes their shoulders and arms have deteriorated so much, they have pretty much forced the use of a power wheelchair on themselves.
When a wheelchair user reaches this stage, mobility is not the only activity that will be impacted. They will now have difficulty transferring from wheelchairs to bathing, toilets, dressing and regular daily activities that require the use of the arms and shoulders.
Moving to a power wheelchair before deterioration causes permanent damage takes place is a good idea, because it will extend use of the arms for everyday activities. To keep some of the independence it is better to make the move much sooner rather than later.
Choosing Between Manual or Power Wheelchairs
Keeping a power wheelchair handy while the user is still in a manual wheelchair will give them the best of both worlds. On hectic days they use of the power chair might be the better option and on days where they are feeling good and don’t have much physical demands, the manual wheelchair might be the better option.
Even though it might seem like an unnecessary luxury to have two wheelchairs at the same time, think about the reduction on the wear and tear of the arms and shoulders. Think about the caregiver cost savings, the extra years of living without pain and maintaining independence and dignity at the same time. You can’t really put a price on those things.