Wheelchairs are a functional solution for those with decreased or impaired mobility. Not only can this piece of medical equipment allow an individual to complete or participate more in activities of daily living, but they can increase quality-of-life. However, those who are new to wheelchairs or need to replace their existing device may have multiple wheelchair questions. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions.

What are The Different Types of Wheelchairs?

There are two main types of wheelchairs that are discussed here. This includes manual wheelchairs, which are propelled by the user’s arms, feet, or pushed by someone else, and power wheelchairs. Battery powered wheelchairs have a joystick or specialty drive controls to operate. The type of wheelchair needed is based on several different factors. This can include but is not limited to the ability of the individual requiring the wheelchair, costs and ultimately preference.

What Size Do Wheelchairs Come In?

Wheelchairs are not one-size-fits all. As a matter of fact, a variety of individuals may use them, from children to adults. This is why there are various sizes and widths of wheelchairs. Some are adjustable in terms of height, but they are manufactured in different widths. For example, one of the smallest widths of wheelchairs is around 10 inches. When we talk about width, there are usually two types of widths to keep in mind – seat width and total width. While a seat may be, say, 18 inches wide, a standard manual wheelchair can have a total width of up to ten inches wider than the seat. Most wheelchairs will have a seat width that falls somewhere between 16 to 24 inches, with a total width of 26-34 inches or more.

How Do You Close a Wheelchair?

Most manual wheelchairs, both manual and electric are “closed” by folding them. Although it may vary by the individual type and manufacturer, many allow the folding or closing by pulling up the seat while the wheels are locked. It is always important to keep in mind that following the recommendations of the manufacturer is always the safest way to prevent not only harm to one’s self, but to prevent potential damage to the wheelchair. If still unsure, a medical professional or your local CareLinc representatives can assist in teaching how to safely close the device.

How Do You Charge The Battery In A Power Wheelchair?

A power wheelchair comes with rechargeable batteries. Charging the battery in a power chair is quite like charging the battery for any other battery powered device. It is as simple as plugging the battery charger into the charger port on the wheelchair. For daily use, most manufacturers recommend charging the battery every night. When not being used for long periods of time the batteries should be charged weekly at the most, bi-weekly at the least. Always read the manufacturer instructions for specific charging procedures. While these batteries do have longevity (typically 6 months to one year), they will need to be replaced at some point. Medicare typically pays for replacement once per year.

How Much Do Wheelchairs Cost?

When it comes to wheelchair questions, costs are often one of the many concerns. Durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs can vary significantly in terms of costs. A standard no frills manual wheelchair can be purchased for as little as a couple hundred bucks and range upward depending on size and features. Power wheelchairs will start around $2,500 and continue to increase in price depending on the medically necessary or preferred options added. Some custom power chairs can cost thousands of dollars.

Will Medicare Pay for a Wheelchair?

Yes. Medicare does cover wheelchairs. However, there is a limit as to how often they will purchase such equipment and it must be deemed medically necessary. Medicare may pay for the manual or power version, but medical qualifications will apply. In order to be Medicare eligible for a power device, the user must meet criteria such as an inability to self-propel a manual wheelchair. When purchasing medical equipment via Medicare insurance, there may also be a co-payment. If there is no secondary or supplemental insurance, the co-payment (typically 20%) must be paid out-of-pocket. For more information, contact your insurance company or your local CareLinc location and we’ll be happy to help you find answers to your questions.

How Do I Choose Between a Manual and Power?

The type of chair the consumer chooses is often directly related to their needs. Someone who lives independently or semi-independently but may have difficulty self-propelling a manual wheelchair may find that a power wheelchair suits their needs better. However, Medicare only pays for power wheelchairs when medical necessity is inside the home. Someone who can maneuver a manual chair with ease or who may not require wheelchair use on a regular basis may find that the manual version can best suit their needs.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

These are just a few of the most common wheelchair questions. However, other questions can include concerns about ease-of-use, the ability to transport the wheelchair and general maintenance information. All these factors can differ significantly depending on the individual chair make, model, and specifications. Many times, the retailer or DME provider can directly answer these individual questions.

If you would like assistance to figure out the right wheelchair for your needs, contact CareLinc or visit your nearest location and our team will help you find the best solution.