Do you need an indoor wheelchair? Will a standard, outdoor wheelchair not do the job adequately?
If you have been using a wheelchair outdoors for some time but your condition has progressed – perhaps you have more pain when walking, or more difficulty getting about – you might be considering using your wheelchair indoors. However, many wheelchairs that are designed for outdoor use are not suitable for use around the house, for a range of reasons:
- The tyres and casters are designed for rough surfaces rather than smooth
- The wheelchair is bulky and too large to fit through standard doorways
- You cannot easily transfer from the wheelchair to seats within your home
Indoor wheelchairs tend to be far more lightweight than outdoor chairs, and smaller in size. This is especially useful when navigating the inside of a home, where tables, chairs and other furniture can get in the way. Even though you might move furniture around to make more space, standard outdoor wheelchairs can still be too large to move about with ease, and getting your doorways expanded is an expensive business.
Some people use electric wheelchairs when they are outdoors, but could manage with a manual chair indoors. This is because the space is smaller and there are no hills or rough surfaces to navigate when inside a home. When purchasing a manual chair for this purpose, take a look at indoor wheelchairs and compare the measurements of the chair with the measurements of your doorways and spaces within your property. It might seem tedious, but it’s better than getting a chair that just can’t be used within your own home.
Some powerchairs can also be dedicated to use in the home. Electric wheelchairs do tend to be bulkier and heavier than manual chairs, but this does not completely exclude them from being indoor wheelchairs. Again, taking measurements is an important precaution, and bear in mind that there will need to be space to store the chair when it is not in use.
How to prepare your home for an indoor wheelchair
When you are considering starting to use a wheelchair within your home, it makes sense to do some preparatory work to make it as smooth a ride as possible.
- Flooring: you might want to consider your flooring. Maneuvering a wheelchair over carpet can be hard work whereas a hard floor, such as laminate flooring, makes for easier navigation. Match the wheels of your chair to the floor type you have, so that the resulting combination is both smooth and safe, without the risk of slipping
- Furniture: you may also choose to rearrange your furniture to make it possible to go through every room in your wheelchair. In simple terms, you will need a certain amount of space to get around, so make sure chairs, tables, sideboards and bookcases are pushed out of the way if at all possible.
- Renovations: some people opt to have more serious renovations done within their home to make it suitable for wheelchair use, such as having a lift fitted to travel between floors, or having a ramp fitted outside or between rooms. Doorway widening can also be considered in this category. For long-term wheelchair users who own their home, adapting their property to make it as suitable as possible for the future may be a sensible way forward. For renters, some landlords will consider investing in these renovations so that they have an accessible home they can also rent out to future disabled tenants.
However you prepare, starting to use a wheelchair indoors can be a relief to many disabled people. Choosing the right indoor wheelchair is an important aspect of this, so carry out the research you need to make sure the chair you buy is the best one for your circumstances.