Due to increasing limitation, some people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may eventually face a time when purchasing a wheelchair is a necessity. To ensure you gain the most from your purchase, there are certain features you should consider.
Although your current weight is a factor in selecting a wheelchair, you should consider purchasing a wheelchair that can endure weight gain. Unfortunately, living a sedentary lifestyle due to limitations and weight gain associated with steroid use are realistic concerns. To prolong the longevity of your wheelchair, invest in one that could sustain an extra 100lbs on top of your current weight. This is especially important if you will purchase a motorized wheelchair, since additional weight may cause problems, even if you are within the weight capacity. These problems can include scraping the bottom of your motorized wheelchair on the ground and not going as far on a single battery charge.
Some wheelchairs are available with padded armrests and padding in other locations on the wheelchair. This can be important if you expect to spend several hours in your wheelchair and want to reduce pressure on joints, such as your elbows. You should also consider wheelchairs with padding and support for your spine and pelvis. The additional cushion for your spine can reduce pain and make it easier to sit upright and have good posture. Padding in the seat area can reduce pressure on your hips and sacroiliac joints, which are especially problematic if you are sitting for several hours during the day.
Elevated Foot Rests
Foot rests that allow you to position your legs straight in front of you or at a slight elevation are beneficial if you experience significant joint swelling. Periodically elevating your legs will reduce the amount of fluid that pools in your knees, feet, and ankles. If you continue to have some mobility, such as taking short walks throughout your home, occasionally elevating your legs while you are in your wheelchair can reduce some common problems with RA, such as gelling or heaviness in your legs due to swelling.
Some wheelchairs also have the ability to recline, which can be important if you are in your wheelchair for most of the day. If you live alone or are alone for most of the day, you may be able to rest or take a nap more comfortably if your wheelchair reclines, instead of having to move to the sofa or bed without assistance. Additionally, if you experience pain in your lower back, hips, and/or sacroiliac joints, reclining can take some of the pressure off these areas because you are not continuously sitting upright.
With many features available for wheelchairs, it is easier to find one that fit your needs and lifestyle. Before making your purchase, consider features that will improve your comfort and maintain the durability of your wheelchair.