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Updated:  14-Aug-09

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Wheelchair Width
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Wheelchair Width... 
Wheelchairs and Powerchairs are generally not well designed and in many cases could be narrower than they are.
The width of a wheelchair/powerchair limits the users ability to manoeuvre or access difficult areas or doors and get close to work surfaces or beds, makes it more difficult to transfer etc. 

Detailed PowerChair Only Menu


As such if you ever see anyone that is sat in any wheelchair or power wheelchair that is wider than the person that is sat in it then you will know that its just plain WRONG!!! 

The example's below are extreme. But in daily normal use every single inch or part of an inch matters a lot... Width , Length & Seat Height. But of the three width is arguably the most important.

This wider than needed wheelchair is usually caused by "experts" such as physios and OT's (occupational therapists), seating "experts" that have almost no clues about actual wheelchairs or wheelchair design or dynamics. These people "assess" you, and are generally pretty clueless. At least all the ones I have had the misfortune to ever have any dealings with. All they know is "seating".

Any time you see this:

You can be sure that the experts have had a hand in things!  Between them they have enough certificates and paperwork to wallpaper the office.  

Non of it in common sense or of actual powerchairs...

The "seating" and other experts have lumbered this poor girl with a powerchair that SEVERELY limits her mobility. Even if it was actually sold as a children's (paediatric) powerchair it is too big....

Imagine her trying to turn into a bedroom from a small corridor for e.g.. 

That chair is about as wide and as long as my own, and I weigh about 7x as much and am physically much bigger.

This is because they have forgotten the fact that the primary function of a powerchair is mobility and freedom of movement. They have tried to do their seating thing "above all else" it seems as it's what they know.  In this case they just had to use a standing wheelchair. Great. Its huge in comparison to her. She can stand in it less than 1 percent of the time. Its size is in the way 99 percent of the time. They should have found a standing chair HER SIZE instead or had a standing frame at home.

She NEEDS a powerchair that is no wider (or longer) than she is herself when seated. To the inch!  Any wider is an additional lack of mobility and a complete pain in the butt.  That's why I chose to build my own to suit my own size and abilities.

This is a full sized (or almost) powerchair base even if sold as a kids powerchair that is about 12 inches wider than she is!!! Also she is hugely too high up, limiting legs under tables and any possibility of reaching stuff she drops. Her feet should be around 6 inches from the ground.. Here they are about 3 or 4 times that!  Its like you going shopping in a huge truck. You could do it but you would rather take the car!  Only she knows no better and has to manoeuvre this huge long tank all day long around the home and probably school and public toilets, shops etc. Its not just about if it will fit through xyz doors but the EASE that it will fit through and in fact the ease of use everywhere. And this doesn't just apply to kids. The adults powerchair that is an inch wider than it needs to be is even more difficult in confined spaces.

The experts seem clueless about the real daily use of a powerchair and concentrate on specialised seating and gimmicks like tilt/recline/elevating legs/seat riser etc/

Do you know WHY it IS this big? Because it probably has an ADULT weight limit, which in turn means it needs big sized batteries, and more powerful motors than this tiny occupant needs. Or because its just designed badly or built for bigger kids. This powerchair will probably do 50 miles with ease with her in it.  Its frankly ridiculous.  The experts understood non of this stuff obviously.

Ignore them and use your own brain cells instead! 

My own chair for e.g. is 25.25 inches (640mm) wide complete WITH an 18 or 20 inch wide cushion and a big fat me sat in it. That's how it should be.

The powerchair should be no wider than the person sat in it otherwise its in the users way. 

Every inch or part of an inch really does matter. If it is wider than its occupant then its in the way of mobility freedom.

Here is yet another example of a kids paediatric powerchair that is seating this poor girl about 9 inches too high and massively too wide with all the manoeuvrability and access as well as reach problems that this causes her. How can she park close to a kitchen worktop to reach something?

Special seating is no excuse for this!  She does not need huge batteries (the reason the powerchair is built so big to accommodate them) as she weighs almost nothing compared to what this over engineered solution can take. 

Anyway as you can see I am mortified at what the so called "experts" with all the certificates and training actually do to peoples mobility. 

And I see the same thing every day in shopping centres, adverts, TV, magazines and at my local hospital, regularly.

Who trains these people? Or employs them? I certainly wouldn't.

KIDS POWERCHAIRAnd another Paediatric Powerchair that is hugely high/wide compared to the occupant that will fit that seat... What are they thinking?  >>>

That he/she will grow into it?  Its caster wheels are tiny. And far too far outboard. To try and make it better indoors no doubt.  Making it hugely narrower, lower and shorter would have done all of that much more effectively!  But now its useless outdoors as well.

As usual the excuse will be that it does some tricks (standing, lowering to floor, seat riser etc. As some "experts" will have decided that its a good idea. And we go back to the beginning of the page again!  But its really no excuse. Tricks come second to the chairs basic abilities and need not make it bigger if correctly designed.

But this doesn't just apply to kids wheelchairs. They are the easiest to demonstrate this with. But for example is the chair you are sat in wider at any point than your shoulders? If so then its TOO WIDE for you!  And if your head does not touch the wall first when you reverse then its too long as well.

Even an inch matters. Just because it may just "fit" through all of your doors, does not mean a narrower chair (or one with more "rounded corners") wouldn't be easier and nicer to drive through that same door into your kitchen/lounge many times a day.  The bigger the space you have to manoeuvre in, or the smaller the powerchair is, the better and easier life becomes.

It gives you more SPACE to manoeuvre everywhere. The most compact chair that you can physically fit into that has the range, speed, and capability (outdoor?) is the one that is correct. Try before you buy!  Don't rely on salesmen, or especially physios, OTs, or wheelchair specialists as they keep on demonstrating that they just do not "get it"!

Here's another extreme example sent to me by a reader. 25.5 inch wide Powerchair with a 14 inch wide slim female user!  And they actually show it in a brochure!  My chair is 25.25 inches wide too, but that's great!  No point making it narrower because so am I...

Look at the picture. The casters are "wide" apart so they hit everything. And small to try and prevent that happening. Making the chair hopeless outside in the real world. A much smaller chair with bigger casters would allow better outdoor and indoor capability.

 

Burgerman.

 

 


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