These are the main things to look out for when buying your new chair
3) What to look for when choosing the perfect wheelchair for you.
This particular subject is a must read for anyone looking to purchase a Folding Electric Wheelchair. This guide can also be applied to anyone looking to purchase any piece of expensive mobility equipment that you hope will change your life.
The very first and most important thing anyone needs to do in their journey when choosing the perfect chair…… is to just take a breath, try not to get too over excited or to jump into the market headfirst as this will only leave you confused resulting in making a bad decision. Instead, take your time, be smart and just grab yourself a piece of paper and write down a list of the most important things that this wheelchair purchase must be able to do in order to dramatically change your life. Also write down the key attributes that your new chair must have or have on it spec wise. This should be everyone’s starting point as it will help you to know what questions to ask later on in the search and also once you know roughly what you’re looking for it will also straight away eliminate a lot of chairs due to what style and spec they are very quickly!……….if you need some help or you are struggling to make a list, below is a few case studies to help you and to think about.
Case study 1 – 60 Year Old Lady who is 5ft 4 and weighs 15 stone.
What does she need and want from her new chair?
- Due to her height to weight ratio she’s looking for a chair that can comfortably take her weight easily and most importantly that she can feel comfortable when on the seat and doesn’t feel pinched in between the arm rests.
This is an incredibly important point to understand. Just because a wheelchair can easily take your weight that it states in the spec, it still doesn’t mean that it will comfortably fit your specific body shape. It’s a well-known fact that men and women are by nature completely different body shapes. Men tend to hold their weight in their mid sections and normally patrude outwards whereas females tend to hold more weight around their lower midsection, hips, bottom or thighs meaning that they normally patrude widthways. Although the exact same weight, A 15 stone 6ft man would more than likely fit into a standard Folding Electric Wheelchair (depending on the brand and model), where as a 15 stone 5ft-4 lady due to her height to weight ratio would feel uncomfortable in a standard chair, the side bars of the armrests would be digging in and they wouldn’t be a happy bunny. (On top of that always remember to allow space for a jacket or coat as well for the winter months) This means that someone that fits this similar type of case study would need a chair with more space between the armrests (for example the LITH-TECH SC-1 XL) which at its widest point is still no wider than the regular SC-1 but just gives the user more comfort and space between the armrests resulting in them loving their chair instead of it making them feel bad about themselves or uncomfortable. In the end of the day the two most important things that you must feel in your new wheelchair is to feel safe and comfortable!
- She is newly retired and her and her partner want to travel the world once she has her new chair.
First and foremost, she is going to need a proven and reliable chair with reliable parts from a well-known and reputable company. The last thing anyone will want to have happen is to break down in the middle of nowhere and get stranded.
After stating the above obvious the next most important thing whilst travelling is for your chairs batteries to be easily and quickly removed in seconds (not minutes) this feature will reduce hassle, waiting around and awkwardness when in ques or in hotels or getting it into taxis etc in case they need to remove them to make lifting easier. Most importantly the batteries must be able to be removed so they can be charged off the chair and into the battery directly. This is a must when buying a chair in 2020 (every LITH-TECH model offers this)
The next major point is that she needs to buy a chair with plane safe batteries under the new rules so she can bring her chair on all the airlines in the world. The only batteries which are completely plane safe on every airline in the world under the new regulations are 6ah batteries. You can have either one or two of these and you will experience no problems on any airline in the whole world. (Good UK example is Ryanair will only Except 2 x 6ah batteries if your chair comes with 2 batteries as standard, but ask in advance as every airline is different) 90% of UK mobility companies especially on ebay firstly don’t even know the new battery regulations or for that matter even understand what they are selling. Secondly, they just knowing chose to defraud their customers and continue to list their chairs as aeroplane friendly knowing full well they are outright lying to you just to make a sale.
If this or something similar has happened to you, remember your rights (especially as a vulnerable customer) as this is false advertising, in an attempt to mislead a customer into a sale. it’s illegal, unethical and you can either give back your chair or if they w. (just remember to get a printout of their advert for proof first)
Last summer we experienced a holiday horror story where a lady had bought a chair off ebay from one of our competitors. Part of her criteria when buying it was that it was plane safe as she was just about to go on her first family holiday abroad and needed the new chair to make this holiday happen…..irresponsibly and deceivingly she was assured by the (unnamed but well known company) that it was all fine and that was that. Two months later her and her family got to the airport ready to enjoy their well needed trip to Spain when they were stopped whilst checking in the wheelchair. They were told that it wouldn’t be able to board the flight due to its batteries being above regulation output. (Apparently, she was sent an email but never received or read it) She was told they would keep the chair for her in storage at the airport but she would have to hire one out there. She was left completely distraught and also panicked, worrying that she wouldn’t be able to hire or find one out there. She made the decision before she had to board the flight just to get her phone out and google someone for help. She typed into Google “folding electric wheelchairs uk” found LITH-TECH right at the top and called us. After explaining the situation and then giving her a ten minute telephone consultation we agreed on a suitable model, she paid us over the phone then and there and we shipped it out to where she was staying in Spain. She received it in 48 hours and was utterly thrilled with her new SC-1, our response time and most of all saving her holiday.
Case study 2 – A 70 year old man who lives by himself near town but can’t walk more than 20 meters without aid and who gets out of breath easily
- He needs the chair to be capable, safe and one that can be used on multiple terrains so that he can safely make the 1 mile journey into his local town.
Rule of thumb is, if you need a safe, capable and multi terrain wheelchair so you can tackle town or city life where on your daily travels you will be faced with an abundance of obstacles, bumps, curbs, uneven pavements and also to top it off people also in your way while you are trying your best to get to your end destination without mishap or getting in anyone’s way.
This means your criteria should be a medium weight chair (around 24-28kg) with big rear wheels and (Preferably rubber tyres) so you can hold the road well and stop safely and quickly. The bigger wheeled chairs will also be better and smoother at taking curbs, cobbles, grass and uneven pavements). Wheelchairs with anti tip bars at the back which are low to the ground are not good at taking curbs, uneven terrain and just get in the way. If big rear wheeled chairs have these it means there centre of balance isn’t very good and potentially dangerous, only small rear wheeled chairs should have them.
- It needs to fold up small and have the ability to be pushed or towed in free wheel mode when either in a folded or unfolded position
This is imperative these days with a modern chair and all of our range can do this. Either be used to stand behind the chair in an unfolded position as a stroller or walker. This gives the customer the backrest to hold on to for balance and it means they can get exercise and push their own chair in freewheel mode very easily.
All of our customer also want the luxury of being able to tow the chair behind them like a suitcase or they can push their chairs either around their houses or flats or out to the car from trips (this great feature means they don’t ever have to lift the chair). It also means that when the chair is not in use it can just be folded and wheeled into the corner of a room or hall out the way incredibly easy.
Case study 3 – Someone who is predominantly housebound to mainly inside the home and the back garden.
- They need a smaller chair which is narrow and nibble to navigate around a typical house or bungalow
In this specific scenario (user size and weight depending) they would be looking for a smaller, probably lighter and definitely a slightly narrower chair if possible.
It would need a small turning circle and be able to manoeuvre easily in small and tight area, for example narrow hallways, doorways and around the kitchen.
This time it’s not about big wheels or being able to do an array of terrains, it’s about being responsive, breaking well, and being very nimble and easy to navigate. For example, reversing into bathrooms or coming up really close so you can transfer onto the sofa. It is also a must that both arms must be able to fully lift up out of the way for easy access. A great example would be either the LITH-TECH COMPACT or MC-1. These chairs are great inside but can also tackle grass and other obstacles easily as well.