First there were the manual wheelchairs. Then came the battery powered wheelchairs and the evolutions of these motorized movers is not over yet. In fact, customized chairs are getting more attention now than ever before. “If somebody is put into a wheelchair that’s not specifically fit to them, they could develop sores on their bottom or on their legs. They could get muscle tightness, contractures that don’t go away,” says Lee Memorial Health System physical therapist, Amy Morrell.
She conducts wheelchair assessments at the Lee Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness. Through a series of measurements and exercises, she can help design the perfect chair to meet your needs. “A lot of chairs have a recline function or a tilt that allows them to. If this person doesn’t stand at all during the day, then this kind of chair allows them to circulate the blood, helps with digestion, and it’s amazing all the different things it can help with.”
Many customized chairs come with some extremely comfortable features. This joystick not only powers chairs, it can power the person into various physical positions. “They’re elevating their legs. Reclining the chair. Even turning off the light switch. You can hook it up to the electronics in your house and do the ceiling fan or light switch,” adds Morrell.
While measuring a person for their customized chair, Morrell also assess how much time will be spent in the wheelchair itself. “Cushions are a big deal. I mean, there are many different types of cushions and getting the right cushion is really important because you don’t want someone to get pressure sores and they could end up in the hospital.”
And it’s not just motorized wheelchairs; physical therapists can also assist in helping people find manual wheelchairs that are lightweight and comfortable as well.