Multiple Sclerosis compounded by hip surgery put Vickie Richmond in a wheelchair. The pairing was less than perfect.
“It was just horrible, it wasn’t made for me. It was just a generic one from a medical department store; just one they grabbed to help me out. And I was in it for a long time,” says Vickie Richmond, wheelchair user.
Most insurance covers an evaluation. Performed by a certified therapist, it’s customized to find each patient the proper wheelchair.
“To assess not only what kind of wheelchair would be best, but their strength and range of motion, to see what features of wheelchair we really want to justify,” says Amy Morrell, physical therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.
“My legs are straight and just so comfortable this way,” says Richmond.
“I measure their hip measurements, their thigh measurements to make sure the seat depth. If they’re measured for the wheelchair wrong then it’s going to be harder for them to push the chair and maybe they have poor posture in the chair,” says Morrell.
Richmond is six feet tall, so a proper fit was crucial.
“Some people sit in their chairs for 16 hours a day, it’s got to be comfortable,” says Morrell.
Each wheelchair is expected to take a patient at least five years down the road. That means looking at their medical condition now and anticipating future needs.
“I look at what would best fit their needs, whether it be a manual wheelchair or a power wheel chair or a very specialized power chair that tilts, reclines and legs elevate,” says Morrell.
Richmond chose a manual chair that keeps her muscles tuned up.
“It was like a dream come true, I cried oh I was so happy. It’s like I went from a model T to a 2013 Mustang,” says Richmond.
She’s now in the driver’s seat and on a roll.