Why is it important to be part of your wheelchair selection process? When you acquire a spinal cord injury, you lose function of certain body parts. The emotions that come with this can be complicated. You may feel that you’ve lost control of not only your body but your circumstances.
Whether you have a recent injury or you’ve been living with a spinal cord injury for many years, one thing you can do to counteract the losses is to gain control of as many areas of your life as possible.
This doesn’t mean to become obsessed with every little detail. If you stress over your toast coming out a shade too dark, that can also cause problems. But you should take charge of the major choices that affect you. And one of those choices is your wheelchair selection.
Wheelchair Selection May Be Confusing
Making your daily life as comfortable and as accessible as possible will help you feel more in control. And one of the best ways to do this is to make sure you have equipment that has been properly chosen and fitted for you.
If you have a recent injury, the evaluation for your wheelchair may be done while you are still staying at the hospital or rehab center. It can be hard to focus on the details while you are still trying to process a major life change. You may be distracted by factors such as insurance and cost rather than focusing on functionality.
You may find that your wheelchair selection takes place in the midst of therapy sessions or other equipment evaluations, which can feel chaotic. You will be shown the features and benefits of wheelchair types that you never knew existed.
Do You Know What You Need?
Under these circumstances, people sometimes come away with the feeling that they didn’t choose their chair. Maybe they didn’t yet have a full grasp on what they needed. Or maybe they were so incapacitated that someone else chose for them.
Maybe their decision was affected by insurance and what they would cover. Sometimes only a couple of options are presented, or all your options are on a screen or brochure and you don’t have the opportunity to see more choices in real life.
Once the decision has been made, it may turn out that the chair doesn’t do all the things you wish it would. The way to solve this problem is to insist on becoming actively involved in your wheelchair selection.
Take Charge of Your Choices
Your number one request should be, “show me.” Nothing beats being able to sit in a chair and try it out to determine if it is the right selection for you. Many chairs may have similar features, with only small differences. But how do those small differences affect its ease of daily use?
Trying out a wheelchair inside your home can show you if it fits well at your kitchen table or bathroom sink. Do you live in the countryside and need a chair that rolls well outdoors? Does the seating allow you to reach your cabinets or counters easily? Are there any new technology or innovations that may bring you great benefit?
It may take a longer time to find your wheelchair if you wait to try out as many models as you want. But in the end, it is much better to make the wheelchair selection process a little longer than to get stuck with a chair you don’t like. It’s a one shot deal. You may not have the opportunity to choose another chair for years.
Also, even if your insurance doesn’t approve something doesn’t mean you should try out all the options to know what is available. You may decide that it’s worth it to pay out of pocket for extra features if they significantly improve your day-to-day life.
You may not have complete control of your body, but you do have control of your wheelchair selection. Exercise your choices and take charge of the things that affect making your environment as accessible and enjoyable as possible.
Author: Annie Beth Donahue is a professional writer with a health and disability focus. You can find her at www.anniebethdonahue.com