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John Williamson

Power Wheelchair (PowerChair) or a Manual Wheelchair?  You have got to be kidding! This applies Paraplegics or Quadriplegics, or any other problem that means you don't have the use of legs work for walking at all.  Detailed PowerChair Only Menu    Another good reason!

There are some things that you just HAVE to have in order to function properly in society as a Paraplegic or similar.  A GOOD powerchair is one of them. Most power wheelchairs are NOT good however...

You have to organise this yourself because nobody else will. 

I like to be able to run my house and live on my own independently or with my girlfriend. I don't want to rely on her or anyone else. I do NOT like being held back or prevented from having a normal easy life by the system or by lack of some essential equipment. With it a GOOD PowerChair I am able. Without it I cannot function EFFECTIVELY. Every little thing I do is a fight. E.G. Dog walking. Grass cutting. Carrying a coffee from the kitchen to the PC... You name it and its much more awkward in a manual chair.

Contrary to popular belief, if you are paraplegic you actually do NEED a good powerchair if you are to have any real "quality" of life. This is based on 12 years living in the real world WITH a Powerchair and a previous few without one and struggling!!!

The difference is absolutely night and day.  If its broken or unusable I am screwed!   I have have to go back to my manual chair.  Its like having your legs cut off.  Any active life just stops.  Everything becomes slower and more difficult or impossible to do. Manual chairs really are THAT restrictive. Most users don't ever "see it" though because they are used to it and just accept its problems as normal.

You can manage without a good powerchair obviously, but its immensely difficult and slow and often requires help from others to do countless things. Why should you just "manage" to get bye? Manual chairs hinder everything you do. Right now I am building a PC. I have been carrying boxes, cases, tool boxes, half built stuff back and forth to the bin outside and to my bench, and from my car up and down ramps and through doorways. All of it held with one hand as I drive with the other. Its too big, too hard to do this stuff in a manual chair. If its even possible.

You also need a suitable and matching vehicle to function really effectively as these two as a matching pair are almost essential if you want a some normal independent and most importantly, an active and busy life in today's society. Not cheap, but being disabled seldom is. 

There really isn't a choice. I just went out and and took the dog along the beach for an hour, about 3 miles away, called in the garden centre and bought a large tree that I wanted for the front of the house. Cant even hope to carry that in a manual chair one handed!  Never mind having a hot cup of coffee as I went along the beach with the dog.

Problem with the system: After a huge accident left me paralysed (T4 complete, chest down) I completely ignored the advice of the (money saving) "system" whose logic "dictates" that a paraplegic does not "need" a powerchair.

Actually he does no matter what they tell you. You can survive in a fashion without one, but that's just not adequate. Get one anyway. Trust me!!!  You don't have to use it. You will still have your sporty manual wheelchair sat there. But if its there you will try it. And you will do so more and more very quickly and eventually wonder why the hell you waited and wasted all those years struggling!!!  Its called brain washing.

They are only for "Quads" apparently!  As explained by physios, OT's and health professionals the world over. Just because you can manage in a manual wheelchair (or a very expensive sports manual wheelchair) does NOT make it a sensible option!  But it makes it much cheaper for the system...

Now there are thousands of Paraplegics (and others)  reading this saying that they don't "need" or "want" a power wheelchair!  And that I am talking crap. I can hear them. I have heard it all before!  Because they too have been brainwashed by the system.

I hear it every time I go back to the spinal injuries unit and in other wheelchair users homes that I visit.  They are simply *brainwashed*.  The seed was planted in the typical spinal injuries rehab unit. Every Paraplegic "knows" that they use manual wheelchairs and Quadriplegics "need" powered wheelchairs...: So a Para using a PowerChair is just "wrong" isn't it?  Actually NO its ridiculous! Blame your rehab for this attitude.  They simply cant accept the obvious logic on this page. In the same way that religious people cant accept obvious scientific truth.

Nobody likes to think they were brainwashed, but in this country at least, it happens. Its not a conscious thing done on purpose perhaps but they (the OTs, physios, professionals, haven't changed with the times. Every Paraplegic goes through a type of production line in hospital as they recover. Takes many months to over a year.

My time was 1996 was in Sheffield in the UK. A spinal injuries unit. The Osborn Unit. All Physios and OT's (Occupational Therapists) are trained - probably quite innocently - to be this way.  They really believe a manual wheelchair is a better bet (or cheaper bet) than a powered one for someone whose arms work but whose legs don't. They cannot see how much it holds back everything you do. If I knew how useful (some) powerchairs were I would have had one even before I was paralysed! Ok well maybe not!

They are seen as "bigger", "bulkier" and less manoeuvrable. Well the good news is that not all are. Most are!
Especially the motorised deck chairs most "systems" supply. But not all. Mine for e.g. is not. There is no reason it should be any wider than a manual chair with an 18 inch cushion. Or any longer. Although most are.

Wake up! Its the 22nd century. A POWER wheelchair has absolutely no disadvantages over a manual one at all. Other than weight. But you don't lift it if you are organised. But lots of HUGE advantages.

It is (mine all are) both smaller, shorter and more manoeuvrable indoors than a manual wheelchair is. Depends on your choice of chair though!  Most are truly evil handling underpowered, badly programmed bulky crap.  This one here and this one are both mine. They are what I mean by sorting out your life!  They seriously fit in my house better than my manual Kuschall wheelchair.  They are tighter and more compact.

They are both the same length and the same width to the inch that my sports manual wheelchair is. but don't have the big wheels to get in the way. Some other power wheelchairs are the same size. Don't be deceived by the more bulky look, actually try a GOOD one!  They are not necessarily bigger. 

Measure it if you don't believe me! And because the wheels are under you rather than alongside transfers are easier, turning in tight spaces is easier too. And you are a little higher up meaning its easier to talk, get served, be seen and its easier to carry a bowl of soup in one hand while driving through the house smoothly. Impossible like many things in a manual wheelchair without all sorts of antics and fights with doors...

The difference is that I can, in a powered chair, zip up a hill, go to the shops five miles away for a sandwich while carrying my hot coffee, Easily and in comfort. Steep hills, uneven surfaces, dog shit, rain, and even cold no longer bother me! I even have heated clothing that runs off my powerchair batteries...

I can drive my van while sat in my powerchair, power my laptop in the pub from it, charge my camera or go to and from the pub miles away in town quickly and easily. And the negatives?  None. Really. Not one. Other than weight. Less punctures too. 

The nearest thing to a sensible argument for manual wheelchairs is "exercise". Tell that to all those users that have ruined shoulders and cold, cut up hands.

You were not designed to propel yourself with your hands or get them cut up or covered in dog shit! 

If you must do exercise use proper equipment!   Personally I would rather go lay down somewhere dark and quiet until the moment passes.

A short part from an e-mail about a power assist for a manual wheelchair reinforcing the above point about "exercise"...

"I'm an amputee - no left leg and years of pushing manual wheelchairs and using crutches have damaged my shoulders joints and neck vertebrae so the pdq trike is essential to me. Fingers crossed that its just the throttle... I've book marked your site - hope it might inspire my son to have a go cos I'd LOVE something like one of your chairs!"

No powerchair because he "cant", like many he thinks they are for paraplegics etc... So he "powered" his manual chair. Now he has the worst of all worlds...

Another example, someone who broke the shackles of his long term conditioning is here on my forum! Dont take my word!

You see I need / want to be able to use my compact Electric WheelChair and Van to get back my freedom.

I use it in the house since its as small as my manual chair, in the pub (miles away) and be able to drive into my van with the dog and go for walk around the park/wood/shopping/bar/BBQ/airfield or whatever. The same powerchair van combination. They go together like strawberries and cream. The van takes me far and wide and I can access it fast and without a struggle. Even carrying my model planes, holding a dog lead or drinking a coffee...  I have the freedom to go anywhere almost with this latest home built powerchair as I designed it to be both off road and still as compact as my manual wheelchair. You can buy one similar like this

It carries the goods, shopping, model aeroplanes, dog, etc. Without either the POWERCHAIR or VAN and the clever lowered floor, ramp, and wheelchair clamp I'm screwed! I cant have my life. 

Before I realised all this I was screwed anyway and sat in a manual chair. I thought that was it. Fight to get out of the street. Fight to get into a normal car day after day. HARD WORK!

My same chair needs to be able to do all of this, It needs stamina, stability, ability to get into and out of a house/van/pub/field/etc without problems. I need to be able to go shopping, carry stuff against my body and hold onto it while I get back to the van which is impossible in a manual wheelchair. I need to have enough bags and storage to keep a ton of junk/medication etc with me. And a few non essentials. It ignores the weight.

Everyone needs that combination. It frees you.  Most don't have it though.  There are a multitude of vans, powerchairs and adaptive systems that allow independence. You have to FIND a way to afford it one way or another. If you don't its unlikely anyone else will do it for you. I am also on benefits. I found a way. It was not easy.

There are all kinds of schemes and help but its all hard work. Even sponsored events or money raising can do the trick. Or maybe you have the money. Even Motability has help/grants etc in the UK for those that need help for a vehicle that's more expensive than the normal mobility allowance covers.

Powerchair? I built my three for 1500 each by using an old eBay 300 chair. WAY better than a new bought one.

Van? Used, Contact a few suppliers. New if you can afford. I imported mine as it saved a huge 20,000+ UK pounds... So its left hand drive. There are much cheaper smaller models available though. I will eventually get to adding them here.

How could anyone actually go back to a manual chair after trying an electric one and seeing the masses of extra freedom it gives even indoors? (Carrying stuff, doors, etc)

The lane I was walking the dog down in my powerchair after leaving the van today...

Dog Walk Lane

Dog Walk Lane medium |  Dog Walk Lane big

The fields are at the other end... Try that in a manual chair while holding the dog and an ice cream!   Currently On a diet though...

My disabled adapted car

Disabled vehicle mediumDisabled vehicle large

This van is also completely indispensible to me. How else could I collect the shopping, pick up that BBQ, go to the local model aircraft flying fields with all my gear?  How on earth do others manage?  Buses don't go when I want, where I want, and cannot carry my stuff. Taxis are the same, only smaller and much like buses are seldom accessible. At least not reliably so. So get yourselves organised!

Another good reason not to use a manual wheelchair!  The real world is not smooth enough. Check this page out!

Power Add On for manual wheelchairs. Also generally a bad idea!

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