Getting the Right Bariatric Wheelchair

If a person has been diagnosed with a mobility-impairing condition that has good chance of rehabilitation, they are often prescribed a bariatric wheelchair. This is what some might call a standard wheel chair. It has two oversized wheels in the back, and two smaller wheels in the front. It also has a metal frame and vinyl or leather material seating; most also have armrests and are custom fitted for the patient for maximum comfort and mobility.

Getting the Best Fit

After a patient is prescribed the bariatric wheelchair, most patients will need to go to a special pharmaceutical or medical supply store to be fitted to the correct chair as there are often several areas in which the patient is fitted. The height of the bariatric wheelchair from the seat to the floor will likely be called the seat height. This measurement is taken with the feet flat on the floor. The therapist or heath care worker will measure the patient from the heel to the back of the knee. The patient should wear typical shoes to ensure lasting comfort.

Another important consideration is the seat width; this is the measurement of the seat across. Many doctors will require the measurements to leave at least an inch on each side of the patient. The seat depth is the measurement of the seat from where the knees will rest to where the seat meets the back. This measurement usually will provide the knee with an inch or two of clearance from the seat itself.

The arms of the wheel chair should be measured to reach the bent elbow easily; the medical specialist will usually measure from the seat to the bent elbow to make this an exact height. The height is important because if it is measured properly it will reduce pain in the shoulders and increase overall mobility. Also these arms should be removable because the arms of the bariatric wheelchair are the most likely location to get caught in a doorway or other narrow opening.

Tires are also important; some models have soft air filled tires or pneumatic tires, which give a smoother ride and are easier to roll but they can be unsteady on turning. Due to this, many bariatric wheelchairs have solid wheels which require less maintenance.

Extra Special Considerations

Some people with respiratory, orthostatic, hypotension or psychological problems may need a reclining wheelchair application; this can ensure the persons comfort and safety in the bariatric wheelchair. Power wheelchairs are usually considered for people with permanent mobility problems, heart conditions, or other illnesses. This is because for their condition, the manual operation of a bariatric wheelchair would cause more harm than good.