A Guide To Buying A Pediatric Wheelchair
For any child, mobility and independence are hugely vital, both physically and emotionally—something that remains true even if they need assistance with mobility. This is what makes pediatric wheelchairs a vital resource, and an important decision for any parent.
To help, we’ve compiled this guide for what to look for when buying a pediatric wheelchair.
Consider Individual Needs
Every child is different, and they will have their own unique mobility needs based on both their condition and their lifestyle. And as a parent, it’s important you’re able to find the right pediatric wheelchair for your child.
Here are some important questions to take into consideration:
What are their underlying health conditions, and how do they affect their mobility?
How much physical support do they require?
How active are they?
What is the layout of your home and how does this affect mobility?
What are the access requirements of their school?
Consult With A Medical Professional First
As helpful as this guide is, it’s always a good idea to consult a medical professional first, before selecting a pediatric wheelchair.
A doctor will be able to give more insight into not only the needs related to your child’s condition, but also a long-term perspective that will help you make the right choice for both the present moment and the future.
One of the biggest choices you need to make is whether you want to opt for a manual or an electric wheelchair. Later on in this article we’re going to take a closer look at electric wheelchairs, but for now, let’s look at some of the different types of manual wheelchair, and why they may be the right option for you.
The standard option for a manual wheelchair will be one propelled by arm strength, however, there are options such as lower or Hemi framed chairs which rely on leg strength—opt for whichever system will work best for your child’s needs.
Here are the basic categories for manual wheelchairs:
Small Child Wheelchair
These wheelchairs are generally designed for children under six years of age and range from scaled-down models of a standard chair to more customized options
These chairs are designed for children aged six years or over and are made specifically to accommodate a child as they develop and grow, as an affordable and practical alternative to frequently buying a new chair every 1-2 years
Originally developed with sporting activity and racing in mind, these chairs have since proved popular across a wide range of users thanks to their improved mobility and greater allowance for independence.
The most common option, this traditional style will usually feature a folding cross-brace frame, elevated footrests, either fixed or detachable armrests, and a back with push handles to allow for an attendant or guardian to operate the chair.
One of the most recent innovations in pediatric wheelchairs has been the widespread development of powered (or electric) wheelchairs. Up until recently it had been believed that children lacked the skills to use these aids, and that in doing so it may inhibit their development.
But, recent research has disproved this hypothesis, and shown that these chairs can be beneficial in terms of helping them conserve energy and boosting self-confidence.
A powered wheelchair is an ideal option for children who would struggle to propel a manual chair on their own, while allowing for more independence than they would have if they required a guardian or attendant to propel the chair for them.
However, it’s important to check with a medical professional first to ensure that other factors such as posture, visual acuity, and coordination could affect your child’s ability to use a powered wheelchair.
When choosing the type of wheelchair that would best suit your child—and even for making decisions between individual options—it’s important to consider the overall weight of the chair.
Generally, you will be able to choose between lightweight and ultra-lightweight options. With the latter being made from more lightweight materials and allowing greater ease of movement, but often proving to be a more expensive option.
Checklist For Getting The Right Fit
Whether you’re able to buy in person or have bought a chair online, one of the most important things to do is to check for how well the chair fits with your child, making sure that everything is comfortable, accessible, and easy to operate.
To help, here is a checklist of some important features and what you should be looking for:
- Make sure that the seat has enough space widthwise to accommodate the child, but not so much that there is too much room either side, as this may make it difficult for them to reach the wheel rims if they need to propel the chair in this manner.
- Depthwise, the chair should allow for at least 2 inches of space between the front of the seat and the back of the knee to avoid discomfort.
- Heightwise, the child should be able to put their feet on the floor with their heels, make sure the seat can be adjusted to achieve this.
Footrests And Armrests
- Make sure that the footrests and armrests are comfortable and allow for an adequate amount of grip.
When it comes to buying a pediatric wheelchair, you need a reputable supplier who can guarantee a high quality of end product and service. In British Columbia, no one can offer this better than Island Mediquip. To find out more, browse our products or contact us today.