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Choosing the Right Wheelchair

Most people are familiar with prescriptions from a doctor for medications, but not for mobility aids such as wheelchairs or even crutches. The process of choosing the right wheelchair can be especially difficult, because the types of options available are as varied as the types of people in the world and their various lifestyles. 

Depending on daily activities, wheelchairs may need different accessories such as a  pressure-relieving cushion, brake extensions, or other special options in order to make it effective. Since a wheelchair is designed to either fully provide or significantly add to mobility, it is vital to get the chair that matches the user’s needs.

Unlike prescriptions for medications, which are very specific, a doctor’s prescription for a wheelchair often reads “a wheelchair”. This is partly because many general practitioners are not experts in physical medicine and so they are not really qualified to make a suggestion as to exactly what type of chair that will be required. 

When possible, it is a very good idea to go through the selection process with a qualified physiotherapist, physical therapist,  or occupational therapist who knows and understands the user’s daily routine and lifestyle so the chair can be properly suited to the needs.

Depending on what the requirements are, a doctor may need to write a somewhat specific prescription for insurance purposes. If the user will be spending a significant amount of time in your chair, or have particular needs in terms of posture or support, these options can represent a considerable expense above a basic wheelchair system.  For many insurance companies, in order to provide payment, they require that these options be outlined by a physician.  This  means that the prescription may need to be re-written by the doctor after an evaluation with a rehabilitation professional. 

Although evaluations are not yet required by all insurance companies, most rehabilitation personnel consider them an absolute requirement. People always test-drive a car before buying it, and in the same way the user should get to test-drive the wheelchair and have a professional opinion to ensure that it will do what it needs to do.

Getting a professional evaluation before purchasing your wheelchair is the best way to ensure that the chair will support the user in doing what is needed to do on a daily basis so that the user can live comfortably and do the things that are wanted and needed.  

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