Powered wheelchair guide
We understand it can sometimes appear daunting when looking for the ideal powered wheelchair for your needs. This basic guide will help you before contacting us for a personalised assessment.
We provide one of the largest powerchair ranges in the UK. The choice is extensive which means our Trusted Assessors can assess and recommend exactly the right product for your needs, every time. Our team of clinical specialists and technical engineers can use the latest technology and components to configure powerchairs with unique functionality for any need. From basic mobility to advanced controls, or postural support for complex needs, we have the products and know-how to provide the answer. The journey to owning the right powerchair for you always starts with an assessment from us. However before you call us, the following information will help you start to understand the many features available:
Being able to raise the seat of a powered wheelchair provides many practical and lifestyle benefits. These include improved reach, access to cupboards, better visibility and eye-to-eye contact which is important for maintaining confidence and better mental health. Powered seat lift functionality is rare within NHS prescribed powerchairs however is popular within the private purchasing market.
Possibly the most important function on a powered wheelchair. Tilt-in-space allows the seat, back rest and leg rests to recline together without any change in relative position. This means an optimal position, achieved whilst sitting upright, can be replicated whilst reclining. This provides effective pressure relief without losing posture or support.
Negative (anterior) tilt-in-space
This powered functionality allows the seat to tilt forwards. It assists with standing transfers and helps the user lean forward while performing daily tasks. Another advantage is the ability to stretch and exercise safely without standing.
This functionality allows the backrest to be tilted to suit a user’s preference. Recline can either be manual, powered recline or anti-sheer. Anti-sheer powered recline helps protect users from any possible friction or rubbing when the backrest is moved – so that skin integrity is maintained. Sheering can be reduced by up to 80% in many cases which means there is a far lower risk of pressure sores or related issues. Powered recline is also used to move the user from sitting to a laying down position. This is often useful for wheelchair users that may need to reduce blood pressure, reduce swelling, sleep in their powerchair or receive personal care.
Elevating leg rests (ELRs)
Elevating leg rests are used for a variety of reasons. Some powerchairs have manual leg rest elevation however the majority are powered. They allow the user to move their legs in the best possible position for day-to-day tasks. Part elevated during the day might provide comfort and better circulation, whereas adjusted closer to the wheelchair allows easier navigation in the home. Certain elevating leg rests are fitted with an articulation feature. This feature allows for automatic leg length adjustment as leg rests are elevated – hence reducing pressure on hips and the pelvis. Elevating and articulating leg rests can also help reduce pressure build up in the posterior, which leads to discomfort and a need for continual adjustment. Sustained pressure in one area can also lead to pressure sores therefore relief provided by leg rest adjustment is essential.
Permobil powerchairs, for example, are fitted with programmable elevating leg rests that perform an ‘Active reach’. This functionality allows the wheelchair to be positioned into forward tilting positions to help with daily tasks such as cooking. Users are able to get closer to a task without fully standing and whilst remaining stable.
This powered movement can support a user from a seated or lying position to standing. As an example, Permobil provides a standing function on its F5VS powerchair which can be tailored to specific user ergonomics. The standing function on the F5 offers the user two programmable standing functions – sit-to-stand and lay-to-stand.
This is the most commonly used standing function on a powered wheelchair and allows the user to move from sitting to standing. It means the wheelchair user does not need to be transferred to separate standing equipment such as a frame, which involves manual moving and handling or hoisting. The ability to stand is essential for many healthcare reasons such as:
- relieving pressure
- improving bowel movement
- reducing urinary tract infections
- improving blood pressure
- increasing bone density
- enhancing the ability to socialise and interact.
Lay to stand
This function helps a powerchair user who is unable to move from sitting to standing. It is very useful for someone who has not stood for a long time, especially as the process can be closely controlled. Individuals with blood pressure issues can also benefit from changing position and once standing, all the other associated advantages are then available.
Permobil powerchairs, for instance, are supplied with several programmable positions that are ‘remembered’ by the product. This means the powered wheelchairs can be configured to move between pre-programmed seating positions such as seated, rest and pressure relief for personalised comfort. Standing functions, if applicable, are also programmable so both provide preferred positions without having to micro-adjust every time.