I’m very frustrated with wheelchairs. It seems I’m always getting one that only works for us for a little while until needs change and then, we’ll, here we go again! Caregiving is a a learning experience and can be draining on the pocketbook. Since my husband’s doctor isn’t helpful (!), let me tell you what I’m dealing with this time and see if you have any advice from your shared experiences.

Hubby can’t stand or bear weight, but can scoot with assistance from a bed to wheelchair. However, unless all four wheel lock, the wheelchair tends to be pushed out of place away from the bed in the process and has resulted in falls. Unless someone is there to hold it, this is too dangerous. (Someone else is around 3 days a week and on call nearby every night.)

Thanks to a friend who knew a friend, we received a used electric wheelchair. It is heavy and doesn’t accidentally move while scooting into the seat. (Whew!) However, the design is strange, and it has a metal joint on each side of the seat where the leg and foot platform connects (the legs raise as one unit). My poor husband has gotten stuck several times mid-scoot with one leg on each side of that stupid metal joint. This has become a serious issue now that his strength is decreasing.

yesterday, the electric wheelchair started malfunctioning. On Monday, I’ll get it assessed... hence my request for advice before I have to decide if it’s worth fixing it or get another one.

Additional considerations: narrow doorway to bathroom is 27 inches wide. He has low vision and weakness, so he cannot wheel himself in a manual one and he cannot drive himself in an electric one. It’s all me... or if we have a helper that day. We have one ramp that takes some effort to push him up, but I can do it.

At this point, I also think we need a wheelchair that reclines. He is so often laying down that now when we go out, he is miserable constantly sitting up in the wheelchair.

Ideal resolution (I think): electric wheelchair that is narrow and reclines.

Why? Heavy and won’t slide, gives him relief from sitting, easy for me to get him around. But... expensive.

Less expensive option: manual reclining wheelchair from Amazon. Has high reviews, costs $300, and delivered in 3 days to the door. It would work if only I had some way to lock the front little wheels to prevent them from sliding!

I called a medical supply store to ask about funding. The rep advised that Medicare is very strict about who gets an electric wheelchair and it would take a long time to get one if he qualifies because there is a backlog. She had 50 applications waiting on her desk. She advised us to go to a seating clinic first. She had no idea I’ve been trying to get him to the VA clinic for months. For one reason or another, it hasn’t happened. (We often have to cancel appointments).

Assuming we won’t be going there in the next few weeks, I would be grateful for your advice:

- Is there a way to prevent the wheels of a manual wheelchair from moving while transferring?

- Is it worth getting an electric wheelchair if his strength decreases to where he can’t

transfer on his own anymore? Would a manual one be a better investment?

- Has anyone had a reclining wheelchair? Any thoughts on this?

Thank you, in advance!

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Don't most chairs just have 2 brakes CM? Even so the chair shouldn't move unless the brakes need adjusting or the surface of the floor is slippery enough that the chair can slide even though the brakes are fully locked - and that is a slip hazard in itself.

One other thought, it seems that the problem is really with his transfer technique - perhaps he needs a sturdy bed assist rail and/or grab bars in appropriate places so he is not putting undue force on the chair, or a transfer board may help, or the bed height needs adjusting - the OT should be able to give advice there too.
Helpful Answer (3)
JuliaRose Dec 2018
You’re right, transfer technique is not great at the moment.
There is no wheelchair that will stay locked in position if the user does not remember to apply the locks. Conversely, all wheelchairs should have locks on all four wheels; and once they are applied the wheelchair will not scoot, or not unless considerable force is used, and even then it won't scoot, it'll more likely tip or skip.

So, is your husband not remembering? Or is somebody else not remembering?

If I were you I would get a commode, and I would get a cheap fold-away wheelchair to use for car journeys, and I agree with CW I would take advice from an OT as to best choice for your husband's daily use.
Helpful Answer (1)
JuliaRose Dec 2018
No one is forgetting to lock the wheels. Lol. I agree that wheelchairs should have locks on all four wheels, but the only one we have had that did that is the commode! Only the back wheels lock on common wheelchair/transport chairs. Do all of them lock on the ones you’ve seen?
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Ask for an assessment from an occupational therapist, they know what products are available and can work with your supplier to match his needs.
Helpful Answer (2)

I would call a different medical supply place, call Medicare and get an ex for one from his doctor.

If the electric one works most of the time it is a good solution.

Check for wheel chocks, wheel locks on Amazon and see what you think would work with the one you are looking at. A wedge might even be the fix.

I hope you find that it is a relatively quick solution through Medicare and you just happened to speak with someone that isn't doing her job to make it happen for people.
Helpful Answer (0)
JuliaRose Dec 2018
Thank you for your ideas! The rep advised me to call the seating clinic directly, so I’ll talk through the options with them.

I hadnt thought of wheel chocks, but I had some bricks that I used to block the wheels for a while.
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