Living Independently After A Stroke: How To Pick The Perfect Motorized Wheelchair

Posted on: 18 September 2020

Many people who have had strokes are capable of walking only a few feet. For longer distances, they rely on using a wheelchair. However, manual wheelchairs are often difficult to use for people who have had strokes — if you're partially paralyzed on one side, you'll end up having to steer the wheelchair with your foot while you push it with your unaffected hand. Moving around in a wheelchair this way is cumbersome and tiring.

One way to solve this problem is to upgrade to a motorized chair. When you've had a stroke, they're much more convenient to use; they push and steer themselves. If you're interested in learning more about what you should look for in an electric wheelchair, read on.

Do You Have Good Grip Strength on Your Unaffected Side?

The most common method to control a motorized chair is to use a joystick mounted on an armrest. For a person who has had a stroke, the joystick will be located on your unaffected side. In order to move your chair, you grip the joystick and move it in the direction that you want to go. For those with adequate grip strength, this method will give you the greatest amount of control over your movement.

If you have a medical condition that affects your grip strength, such as arthritis, then you may want to purchase a motorized chair that uses a touchpad to control movement. Using a joystick for an extended period of time can become tiring for people who have trouble gripping it. With a touchpad, all you need to do is to lightly press the pad in the direction that you want to go. It's slightly more difficult to make fine movements using a touchpad, but it won't tire out your hand like a joystick would.

Do You Plan to Use Your Motorized Chair All Day?

A long battery life is a necessity if you're planning to rely on your motorized chair for the entire day. Using your chair will be more convenient if you only need to charge it once, so look for one that uses two battery packs instead of one — the extra charge will allow you to keep using it for much longer. At the end of the day, you can plug both packs into the charger in order to get them ready for the next morning.

However, battery life is less important if you're only using your motorized chair when you're outside of your home. For example, you may only plan on using your chair when you're shopping or running errands. In this case, you can always make sure you're fully charged before you go out and then recharge your battery when you get home. For this, one battery pack is typically sufficient.

Do You Need to Make Tight Turns?

Older homes typically have narrower doors and hallways, which means it's likely that your motorized chair will need a tight turning radius. Rear-wheel drive chairs are the most common type, but they have a very wide turning radius. It can be difficult to maneuver them through small doorways, which makes using your chair inconvenient. Instead, you should opt for a front-wheel drive or center-wheel drive model. By moving the drive wheels forward, your ability to navigate tight turns will be significantly improved.

Do You Have Balance Problems That Cause Vertigo?

People who have had strokes often have problems with balance, and in some cases these balance issues can lead to vertigo and persistent sensations of dizziness. Sometimes even shifting around in a wheelchair can bring on these symptoms. If this applies to you, you'll want to purchase a higher-end motorized chair that's designed mainly for outdoor use. These chairs have treaded wheels and a much better suspension system than lower-end models, which significantly reduces the amount of vibrating and shifting you'll feel while you're using your chair.

Finding the right motorized chair is a great way to improve your ability to live independently. They're much more convenient to use than a manually powered wheelchair, and they're even covered by insurance in many cases. If you're interested in upgrading to a motorized chair, browse available models online while taking into account the above questions. Afterwards, make sure to ask your occupational therapist or physical therapist about which models would suit you best.