What do you need to know about a wheelchair for amputees?
A wheelchair for amputees consists of a comfortable seat, a sturdy frame, a fixed or reclining backrest with or without a headrest, rear handles, comfortable armrests, two large rear wheels fitted with handrails and a braking system, two small front wheels, as well as a leg rest which should be adjustable and/or removable.
Thanks to a wheelchair for the disabled, the patient will never be immobilized on a bed for the rest of his life. Young and old alike will both be able to enjoy their lives by having the possibility of moving around their house or even outdoors according to their desires.
This medical vehicle will be the best way for them to find a new life marked by a return of mobility and autonomy without necessarily having recourse to the help of a third party.
Features to consider before you buy a wheelchair for amputees
Below are some of the features and criteria you should consider while choosing a wheelchair for amputees.
Several types of chairs are grouped in this model, each suitable for a particular use. There are mainly two types you can choose from:
- Manual model: A manual wheelchair is characterized by the absence of a motor. It requires physical effort by the user himself or by another person. It is a model equipped with handles accessible behind the backrest. This facilitates its movement in all directions. Good examples are the Karman Healthcare S-115 and the Invacare Lightweight Wheelchair.
- Electric model: Like the Hoveround Electric Wheelchair, this is a wheelchair with a built-in motor powered by a rechargeable battery. The electric control which allows it to move is accessible on the sleeve.
The width varies depending on the wheelchair, so no general answer can be given to this question. The width of the wheelchair depends on the width of the seat.
The optimal seat width should not restrict the person concerned. There should be about 2 cm space on each side, depending on the width of the buttocks. The standard wheelchair is, on average, 60 to 75 cm wide.
However, there are also models for stable people, which are a few centimeters wider for better comfort.
The seat depth should not be too high or too low. The legs should be able to touch the ground or footrests so that you can move your feet if necessary. The risk of injury is minimized, especially indoors. It also prevents your hands from being trapped.
For optimal seat height, you should sit in a wheelchair. You can measure the distance between the back of your knees and the floor. The value determined does not have to be the exact seat depth. As a rule, there is a margin of around +/- 10 cm.
If the wheelchair is only used outside or if you cannot or do not want to use your feet to move around anyway, the seat depth is less important when buying a wheelchair. In any case, a seat depth that is too low should not be chosen.
The same applies to the height of the back. This should reach no more than the shoulder blades to still be able to use the handrails well.
It is very important to determine the dimensions of your wheelchair, first of all, according to your morphology, but also to the environment where you are going to use it. Choosing the best size is important for portability, ease of access, and ergonomics’ sake.
We advise you to take into account the width of all your doors, at least those through which you will pass most often. These can be the door of your room, that of the toilet and the bathroom, the main entrance door, and that of the living room. You won’t have much trouble choosing your chair if your doors are all the same width.
Otherwise, it’s either you equip yourself with a second transfer chair to access certain rooms, or you will have to content yourself with not going through the doors that are inaccessible to you. Note that the overall width of a manual wheelchair is equal to its seat width plus 17 to 21 cm.
The maximum load capacity of a wheelchair should be included in the datasheet of the product. This is based on the body weight of the person concerned.
The least acceptable capacity is around 200 lbs. Meanwhile, most models weigh 250 lbs, and you can even find ones such as the Medline MDS806550E Wheelchair that can be used by someone who weighs up to 300 lbs. Still, there are more resistant models on the market.
The wheelchair must not be too heavy – regardless of being manual or electrical. Both variants are useful in everyday life, especially if you like to travel alone. When traveling, a light wheelchair such as the foldable wheelchair is particularly suitable, as this wheelchair is very mobile, compact, and quickly stowed away at all times.
A very heavy wheelchair makes movement difficult and can be slower. It is therefore important to pay attention to the weight of the mobility aid when buying a wheelchair. A standard wheelchair, for example, is very heavy at around 50 lbs. You can find lightweight models such as the Karman S-115 on the market and super heavy models like the Hovearound Electric Wheelchair, which without a grant more freedom. That is why it is not recommended as a wheelchair for children or seniors. A lightweight wheelchair weighs only 20 to 30 lbs. Although this range of chairs may be lighter, they will require a lot of force.
The design and comfort level
The choice of a folding model can, for example, be very useful to facilitate the transport of equipment by car. You just have to make sure that the folding system is simple enough, fast, and requires little effort.
Also, pay close attention to the level of seating comfort. For this, we recommend that you opt for a wheelchair with a backrest, with padded armrests, as well as height-adjustable and removable footrests to allow less bulky transport.
You can even choose a reclining wheelchair to avoid the fatigue associated with a 90° seated position. Also, be sure to choose a material that is both durable and lightweight to ensure the sturdiness of your equipment. And as far as the brakes are concerned, check that they are indeed an efficient and manageable mechanism for the user.
The stability and safety of the user are generally guaranteed by the tires of the wheelchair. The wheels must be of good quality and chosen in size and a certain resistance according to the intended use of the material. The drive wheels of such equipment are generally 24 inches in diameter for adults. And for that, you have the choice between several models. If you prefer wheels that do not require any maintenance, opt for solid wheels equipped with tires.
For outings on uneven ground, opt instead for low-pressure fine-toothed tires or MTB-type tires which absorb shocks. And for better performance, high-pressure tires of 5 to 8 bars will be perfect.
Also, don’t forget that if you often travel on uneven ground, your best bet will be to have large front wheels that will easily overcome small obstacles, i.e., 8 inches. For a more maneuverable chair for use indoors, choose small 3-inch front wheels.
So many additional accessories can complete the main function of the wheeled cart. Among these elements is, for example, the tray allowing the user to enjoy a meal in complete stability in his chair, even while he is out for a walk or at home.
A wheelchair with a tray also offers him the possibility of going about his leisure activities without necessarily having to stay at a table. It’s a very practical way to do your crosswords under the shade of a tree, for example.
The adjustable footrests are necessary if you want the best wheelchair for lower leg amputees. And when they are removable, the better!
Also, some vehicles offer a shopping basket or a bag hanging from the wheelchair that can be used to store a few things, especially during an outing.
These storage units also offer the possibility of storing purchases to prevent the person from having to carry them on his knees. Some tools like the ramp, transfer board, and grab bar can also complement the convenience of the wheelchair.