Wheelchairs are among the most commonly used assistive devices that enhance the quality of life and promote mobility for people who have difficulties with walking. Wheelchairs enable users to work, engage in social activities and access healthcare services such as medical appointments. To ensure adequate mobility, wheelchair users need a wheelchair that fits them correctly and meets their unique needs.
Occupational therapists are the only health care profession that considers three factors when assessing and recommending assistive devices such as wheelchairs: 1) the patient/client, 2) the environment and 3) the occupation. By viewing the interaction between these three factors, occupational therapists can improve the physiological functioning and performance of activities of daily living that are important to the patient/client.
There are many different types of wheelchairs desired for specific purposes and user needs.
-propelled by the user
-typically propelled by pushing on the round bars surrounding the wheels
-often has handles so another person can push it
-easy to maintain
-lightweight and least expensive
-propelled by a motor and battery
-often operated using a joystick or push buttons
-certain models that can travel across gravel or rough terrains
-heavy and quite expensive
-supports the user in a standing position
-can switch between wheelchair and standing modes using hydraulics or electric-powered assist
Selzer, Michael E., et al. Textbook of Neural Repair and Rehabilitation: Volume 1, Neural Repair and Plasticity. Cambridge University Press, 2006.