Power vs. Manual: Why Timing Can Be Crucial
- By Angie Kiger
- Jan 01, 2013
When it comes to choosing between a manual and a power
wheelchair for a newly injured client, one of the biggest challenges
is timing. Just because a client with a C5 or C6 spinal cord injury
does not present with enough strength to push a manual wheelchair
some three to six months post injury does not necessarily mean that
he or she will not have enough strength and coordination to push that
chair in nine to 12 months.
Therefore, be sure to talk with the client’s team as to where the
client is in the rehabilitation process. Important questions to answer
- What were the goals for the client upon initial injury? How has he/she progressed (quickly vs. slowly) in meeting those goals?
- What are the current short- and long-term goals?
- What is the plan of care for therapy post discharge?
- What will the client’s environment and activities look like once he/she is in the community? Items to consider include terrain, distance,
speed, length of time anticipated being out and about, etc.
Thanks to the technology that is available on the market today, if
a client has the ability to push a manual chair but does not have the
energy or level of function needed to self propel for extended periods
of time, or the client has a change in function (loss or gain), there are
alternatives to simply a manual wheelchair or power wheelchair.
A power-assist system provides clients with a boost of power
during manual propulsion of a wheelchair that may allow the client to
more efficiently and effectively propel.
This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Mobility Management.