Disability aids, equipment and technology
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Power on Manual?

libbytlibbyt Member Posts: 30 Courageous
Hi All

My son is now 16 and we have the dillema of wether to try and keep him in a manual chair or go for a power chair. Any advice?
I always thought that it would be better if he could carry on in a manual (more excersize) but now we're not sure if it's the right thing to do. He's going to have an assessment to see if he could handle a power chair.

Any advice from anyone who has been through this?

Kind Regards



  • libbytlibbyt Member Posts: 30 Courageous
    Sorry, the stress is causing my spelling to go haywire!!

  • pantherpanther Member Posts: 251 Courageous
    Hi Libby

    When I got my wheelchair I didn't feel I wanted a power chair I didn't want to look that disabled!! Silly I know but in my head as I wasn't really ready to accept the chair I felt a manual chair would be better.

    I got a Kuschall K4 whichwas a lightweight chair but then found I struggled to wheel it. I found out that Alber do something called e-motion wheels.

    They are battery operated wheels that fit on to a manual wheelchair to give you power and make the wheeling of the chair easier. They are expensive and I had to do a lot of fundraising to get them but they might be worth a look at as an alternative to a powered chair.

    Gerald Simmonds supply them not sure if you can get them elsewhere but start by looking on the Gerald Simmonds website they'd also be able to tell you what chairs the wheels are suitable for.

    Good luck with the reassessment.

    Helen x
  • SaranoyaSaranoya Member Posts: 2
    Hello Libby,

    I'm 27 years old and have spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. Mine is mild enough that, until about two years ago (with a little surgical help, night splints, some medication and lots of physical therapy) I was able to walk with just a pair of AFO's. Then, two years ago, I had to go to a manual wheelchair because of an accident that ruined the knee on my historically stronger right leg.

    So yes, my situation is markedly different than that of your son. But nevertheless, I have this advice for you: equip him with whatever tools will give him the most independence.

    I fought the idea of going places in a wheelchair tooth and nail for years, even though my mother always tried to insist I take a wheelchair on trips to the mall or the zoo or similar outings, because (I thought at the time) that was easier on the people who went with me. The truth is, now that the wheelchair is my only option for most purposes (I can still get around the house on crutches if I choose to), I've come to realize that many things have become *so* much easier for me to do!

    From the perspective of an able-bodied person, I think it's easy to assume that someone whose tools are more complicated must by definition be "worse off". This is simply not true. Recently, because of a wheelchair-related disaster, I had to go to work on my crutches. Let me list for you all of the ways in which I was worse of that day than any other day:

    - It took about three times the usual amount of energy for me to get to work, and so I had to sit at my desk doing nothing for the first twenty minutes after I arrived, just to catch my breath.

    - I had already arrived late, because I'm so much slower on the crutches than in the chair.

    - People who normally would have called me to their desks to ask my opinion on something now didn't, which left me feeling less able to contribute.

    - Someone else had to get in line for me at noon to get my food, because I couldn't carry my own food tray, or stay upright while using my hands to get some money out of my wallet.

    - I fell on my face on my way out.

    - ... which had security call my boss, who then got me into his car to drop me off at home, and that's something he wouldn't have normally done for *anyone*. So I was more of a 'special needs' case that day than any other.

    - I had to postpone grocery shopping until my chair was fixed, and even if my boss hadn't dropped me off, I wouldn't have had the energy *or* the stability to hop by any convenient fast food place or restaurant on my route home. I had no wheelchair available from which to do my cooking, and I can't move a chair on my own when I'm on my crutches, so I fasted that evening and the next morning.

    I could make that list even longer if you wish, but I'm sure you get the point: I am actually much *less* disabled, in terms of independence, and being useful instead of a nuissance, when I'm in my wheelchair than when I'm using my crutches. I suspect the same might be true for your son, except that for him, it's the power chair that will make all the difference.

    I appreciate the benefits of regular exercise, which is why I, too, still choose to use my crutches regularly (just not to go to work anymore ;)). And maybe, it would be good for your son to continue using his manual chair at scheduled times for the purpose of keeping his body in as much shape as he can, but use a power chair in most of his day-to-day activities.

    Of course, this is assuming that he *is* actually able to do more when using a power chair. If the environment doesn't lend itself to using a power chair, or his transportation options get severely curtailed because of it, or he doesn't have enough motor control to use a power chair independently and effectively, my argument is moot. But that's why I said "equip him with whatever tools will give him the most independence". It's possible that, given the circumstances, the best tool is, in fact, a manual wheelchair -- or a manual wheelchair with e-motion wheels, as the previous responder suggested. I guess what I'm suggesting, first and foremost, is that you should look at it from, perhaps, a slightly different perspective.

    Don't think "as long as my son is not in a power chair, he will be less disabled because he will use body more fully". Instead, ask yourself: "if I put my son in a power chair, will he be less disabled because he can do more?"
  • libbytlibbyt Member Posts: 30 Courageous
    Hi Panther and Saranoya

    Thanks for the replies. You're both right, I guess a lot of our hesitation is because we feel that he will be more disabled in a power chair than a manual. But we must do what is right for him. I think having a power chair for college and a manual for home would be a good idea.

    We are waiting for yet another assessment as we seem to have a different seating therapist everytime we go and everything takes so long!

    Thanks again

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