Wheelchair advice please

We are getting to the stage where J would be happier with a wheelchair available. My priority is for it to be collapsible and light, so I can get it into the car easily. I don't think it needs to be motorized as we are fairly flat. Any suggestions re specific chairs?

We are in the US. Does Medicare help with the cost at all? Has anyone tried renting one through Medicare?

All comments welcome! Thanks.

Finoni

14 Replies

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  • Hi - I'm over in the U.K. so the brand we use likely won't be helpful.

    But the big breakthroughs for us were:

    1 - Non inflatable tyres... They make pushing much easier and the bumps are absorbed, or not, by the chair itself.

    2 - A really good wheelchair seat cushion - Ours is some sort of foam - very dense and very comfortable.

    Best of luck!

  • Thanks, Kevin. I will be sure to pay attention to the tyres and get a good seat cushion. Good to know.

    Finoni

  • Hi Finoni,

    We're not quite there yet. But what I understand Medicare will help, but there are stipulations. Google Medicare and DME (durable medical equipment). You can usually download a booklet on all of the medical equipment they will cover. My dad was in a wheel chair for quite a few years, and because he that's all he sat in, it was made/ordered special for him. Medicare helped with some of that also.

    LynnO

  • Thanks so much! I will look at the website.

    Finoni

  • We have two. My husband was using a light "transfer" wheelchair which we purchased. Great for me, but due to the small rear wheel, he would fall backwards when getting into it. Now I only use it when we need one for trips. From Medicare, he got a "Lightweight" wheelchair. It is somewhat heavier, so I can still pick it up, but large wheels are in the back so the tendency to fall backwards is curtailed. I believe the code is K0003, at least with our insurance. Steps were 1) Neurologist had to request a evaluation from his physical therapist. 2) The PT sent requested style back to neurologist. 3) The doctor then requested it from the insurance company. 4) The insurance company had to approve it. The Code is really, really important. It took 2 months of incredible inaccuracies on the part of the insurance company and serious frustration on my part, daily calls, to get it right...right up to the moment when I went to pick it up and it was wrong. I went into meltdown. But we have it now. Yes, I put pads on the seat and a lumbar support for his back. Hope this is helpful.

    I should mention we rent it for about $7/month, and needs reapproval every four months, and in one year we own it.

  • Lots of great information! Thanks so much.

  • Once you get to the wheel chair stage - it can move fairly quickly to making transfers from chair to car difficult . Thinking ahead is a good idea with this illness and so consider a car with wheel chair access as you may need it sooner than you think . Sorry - that is a gloomy prognosis but a realistic one .

  • You're right - I'm not ready to think that the wheelchair will soon be a full time thing, but I will take that into consideration. I intend to keep him doing as much as he can, while he can, to put immobility off for as long as possible. Thanks for the reality check, Georgepa!

  • Before buying suggest rent one to find the correct size and ease of use. Agree with Kevin solid tyres, must but also for ease of steps get one with large wheel at rear. Besides seat cushion try a back cushion for some support. Try and get a chair with detachable foot rests makes easier to sit patient in correctly and makes chair lighter to lift also stops patient pushing up and tipping the chair while you are getting sorted.

    Agree at beginning a lightweight chair good idea, in addition it may be you need to start planning for wheelchair adapted car (WAV) as even a lightweight chair is a chore lifting into back of a car your back will feel it even with correct manual handling. And is ready for bigger chairs later.

    Our lightweight has been assigned to the Red Cross as M needs more back and head support which lightweight chairs do not provide something to think on for later. (as you see I'm a Brit so cannot help with US providers but there will be someone to help you.)

    Best wishes Tim

  • Thanks, Tim. Good ideas.

  • I would recommend one with attendant brakes, very useful.

  • The first wheelchair my husband used, was a light fold up one, which I Could put in he back of our car. I could use it in doors too. The only thing was, that it was hard to push around, it had small wheels.The second wheelchair, also fitted in the back of the car but had a large wheel at the back and was much easier to push.

    It was provided for my husband by wheelchair services. When my husband deteriorated and needed a much more robust wheelchair, it was a Rhia Azalea wheelchair. By then we had a WAV , so it could be pushed up into the car but the only draw back with such a heavy wheelchair, is that I needed to buy a battery pack for the back of the wheelchair. I wouldn't have been able to push up the smallest slope without it.

    I didn't really know in the early days,that I would need to keep changing his wheelchair over the years and with hindsight, I probably wouldn't have bought the first one with the small wheels. I didn't know how hard it was to push, until we got the second wheelchair!

    DX

  • Dear Finoni,

    Charles feels the same way and I found a really nice chair. Not a transport but a lighterweight heavy chair, if that makes sense. Haven't bought it yet but looking into funding. The wonderful thing is that the arms come off and the foot pads, making it 10 pounds lighter to lift into the car. I'll call the place and find out the name.

    Cuttercat

  • Thanks Catherine! I would love to know which it is.

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