Wheelchairs: what do you use?: At the moment I... - Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK
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Wheelchairs: what do you use?


At the moment I have a bog-standard manual wheelchair and it's rubbish. I really need a new wheelchair, especially considering I'm having to spend more and more time in it. But I don't know what to get, and I'm not sure what will be suitable or even available for me, as someone with ataxia. For example, a rigid or foldable frame, armrests or no armrests, what size backrest? Also, does anyone here manage to use a wheelchair without anti-tippers on the back, so you can do 'wheelies'? And I was going to get a wheelchair that's as light as possible, but is using a lightweight wheelchair with balance issues a good idea?

I know that you cannot tell me which wheelchair to get, but it would help a lot if you could tell me wheelchairs that work for you, because at the moment I'm clueless.


12 Replies

Have you tried your local wheelchair service? You should find their details on your local council website. They will measure you and offer you a suitable wheelchair or they can give you a voucher to the equivalent value which you can use towards a wheelchair of your choice.

I wanted to change mine for a lighter model as my wife was finding it too heavy to lift in and out of the car (I could not help any more due to my ataxia). The ones they offered me were still too heavy so I accepted a voucher and chose a lightweight aluminium model from a local suppplier, it only cost me an additional £19.00!

Give them a try, it could be worth it ~ Bob

Hi Wildone

I struggled with the NHS-supplied wheelchair for a while and then gave up. It was like a tank in weight and a real pain to manoeuvre! Like you, my husband (carer) just couldn't lift it and what with the weight of it, it was a nightmare for him to push too: he's in his 70's.

As Robo has rightly said: we went a local accredited wheelchair supplier (GBL) who spent hours going through what I needed. They then took measurements and I got a lightweight (foldable) Neon 'Quickie' with arm rests and 'swing away' foot rests. It was around £1,700. Thanks to a recent little (stress little) financial windfall, I've now also got a Benoit attachable/detachable Power Pack which allows me to 'drive' my wheelchair when I'm out and about.

If you want any more details, I'd be happy to help. :-)

in reply to SussexDodo

Thanks. I would also like to get a power pack for my wheelchair (if I figure out a way to afford it). Do you mind me asking who you bought it from? Also, do you know whether power packs can only be attached to certain types of wheelchairs?

And (sorry about this) I can imagine a lighter chair is easier to push and carry, but is it more difficult to ... manage yourself? As in, do you have problems with it tipping or do you ever accidentally knock it over? Or, with it being lighter, is it more difficult to transfer or get in/out of the chair?

Thanks again!

Thanks for replying!

I should've explained further. I've got an appointment at my council's wheelchair service soon, but last time I went I didn't find it overly helpful. I mean, I got a wheelchair, but it's not really suitable for me. For example, last time I went they insisted I get a chair with armrests and cushions etc., and even told me that there was little point in getting a self propelled chair because I wouldn't be able to propel myself anyway. Luckily I won the latter battle, and got a self propelled wheelchair, and I've taken the armrests and cushions off. I felt like they didn't really listen to me, and I think I'm more capable than I look. I think if I go in with more of an idea of what I could have (or what others with ataxia use), they are more likely to consider what I actually say rather than just guessing what I need based on my appearance and my general condition. I think I need advice on how to be advised. That's my logic anyway!

Hi Wildone, I've got a powerchair as I can't self propel. I've used one for 4 years now and it gives great independence, especially as I can use it on buses, taxis and trains and it's easy to get round shops etc. I got it funded through motability when I had to give up driving. It does come to bits apparently but I've never tried it!

All the best :)

Hi Wildone :-)

Sorry a bit slow coming back to you but it's been a 'bit of a day' so far. :-)

Here's the link to the Benoit Lite Drive I bought for my Neon 'Quickie' Wheelchair. The Quickie is light, foldable but very robust and 'no', there's no chance of tipping etc. As I said above, the wheelchair was supplied and fitted through an accredited dealer (GBL) who also then supplied and fitted the Lite Drive.

I think the bottom line is: go for the best wheelchair you can afford and DO go to a dealer that has the accreditation to mobility organisations - you'll see the badges on their websites which are a bit like the ATOL and ABTA badges in the travel industry. That way you won't be sold the 'latest, sexiest model' just for the sake of someone's commission. LOL

My wheelchair sales person said buying a wheelchair that suits you perfectly, is a bit like buying a Saville Row suit: loads of fittings to get the right fit. Anyway, here's the link to the Lite Drive. There's a nice video to watch as well. :


in reply to SussexDodo

Thanks for the advice and the link, it's really appreciated.

I hope your day improves:)

in reply to wildone

I'm around if you need anything else, wildone. :-)

Thanks for your good wishes. Today (Wednesday) is much better. There's Cricket on the radio to listen to while I work. LOL

in reply to SussexDodo

Hi Sussex Dodo

You did not mention that the Lite Drive system costs £ 3995.00! Thats about 10 times the cost of my wheelchair. It may be good but.............. Bob

Quickie RX


I have a NHS supplied wheelchair and it is really like trying to wheel through mud it is that heavy.

in reply to Hidden

I went to an appointment to get another NHS wheelchair and they weren't much use. I can only get a newer version of the chair I've got now, which is pretty much the same as the chair I've got now (but with intact paintwork!). I think I'm now going to bypass the NHS when it comes to wheelchairs, so it looks like I'm on my own!

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