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Thread: When to switch to electric full time?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Katilea's Avatar
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    When to switch to electric full time?

    When is the right time to start using things like electric wheelchairs full time?

    I use one outdoors for walking my dog twice a day as there's no way I'd physically manage to walk that far twice a day everyday.

    I try and use rollator mainly just to get from room to room either by walking with it or sitting on seat and just pushing with legs if balance is really bad. (my bungalow isnt that big its only a few steps/pushes from room to room)

    Recently I was looking at a chair which raises and lowers you and thinking how much easier it would be to do housework from it and safer than trying to balance and hang on with one hand whilst trying to get stuff out of cupboards etc with the other.

    Been a big fan of the 'use it or lose it' theory I don't want to switch to using electric chair indoors too soon, but how far should we push ourselves?

    Today just getting dressed was tiring, taking Inca (my dog) for short walk, ordering shopping online and a few posts and now I'm ready for a lie down! As my balance is well dodgy today I daren't attempt anything that would require standing up and down alot (such as hanging out washing) , using rollator, so nothing else will get done.

    Having a chair with a rising function would enable me on days like this to do more and maybe I'd have more energy for rest of day to go out more if I was using electric chair indoors and out but would that make me lazy and lose the function I have worked so hard to keep?

    I don't get out much socially as I live alone and have no PA's or anything. Also been hearing/speech impaired means social situations require alot of strength and energy on my part for lip-reading and physically trying to speak, sign or type my replies on Lightwriter as well as trying to find the energy to sit up on a regular chair/walk with crutches (if its at families house.. they don't have room to get wheelchair in).

    Getting in and out of cars is quite physically demanding and if I go shopping we can only fit manual chair in peoples cars. I end up pushing myself as otherwise I cant have a conversation with people when they are behind me as I can't see what they are saying, so they only help on up slopes so we can still chat.

    I have got used to been quite socially isolated (been deaf since age 16 also) and as having a PA full time would require alot of extra physical effort communicating all day, which could be used for physio instead - I'm keen to find a way to keep been able to do everything myself around the house for as long as possible.

    I'm now finding myself wondering whether this is the right time to start looking for solutions for the next stage as these chairs will take some time to raise the money to buy.

    I'm in Uk so cant get Medicare etc to buy one and NHS wont provide the chair I was looking at. So I would have to find the full £16,000 myself somehow.

  2. #2
    Katilea, maybe an overall conditioning program might be more helpful than manual chair use. You burn some calories using a manual but unless you are pushing at a brisk pace or up hills, etc. you don't get much conditioning benefit. I'm not sure of your condition or the feasibility of heavier exercise but you may want to try light free weights, therabands, exercise bands with handles, etc. A hand ergometer is good for conditioning as well, here you can get small ones with adjustable tension that show RPMs, calories burned, etc for about 100.00. Try exercising in front of TV if this kind of thing bores you.

    My wife is demoing a power chair with elevating seat. Really helpful for making transfers as you can get higher than where you are transferring to and do a "gravity transfer". She has a lowrider option with seat set at 16.5" making it even easier to transfer to/from lower toilets, etc.

    Must be tough to combine your wheelchair related disability with your deafness, you handle your situation well.

  3. #3
    It's great that you are planning ahead for your needs. In evaluating the power chairs, can you get a dealer to bring one around that has the features you need - the seat that goes up and down? Don't settle for less as you already know what would help you. You can then try the chair for a few days or longer. I am assuming the power chair you mentioned does not have a seat riser, or perhaps it's a "scooter".

    My first power chair was a used one for $250 that I got when I wanted to transport our recycle bin to the curb, and do yard work. Now, 5 years later I am looking into a used power chair with the seat riser. I plan to use both chairs as needed.

    Your social needs are important - would a power chair enable you to get out in the neighborhood - yes, transporting it would be another issue, but still would be nice to tool around in your community. Here in U.S. the Medicare program only funds power chairs if they are required 'in the home', as I have been told by vendors. The paper documentation for your doctor must state you can no longer push a manual chair.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Katilea's Avatar
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    Hi

    my current transport is a mobility scooter and a cheap quantum vibe chair I got off ebay as back up (just standard van seating no lift) as I live on own and have a dog to walk everyday twice a day. Its very hilly here so I get through batteries fast, If i use scooter to go to supermarket its then struggling for last walk of day cos of steep hill off estate so have chair too or for when I need to go in taxi (as ours wont take scooters)

    Well I was deaf first from age 16 (I'm 41 now) only had ataxia the last 8 years, it started developing in my early thirties.

    Problems I have with exercising is cos of balance and co-ordination problems I can't do repetitive movements fluently like pedalling for example.

    I can move the pedals but its a slow jerky unco-ordinated movement rather than been able to quickly pedal like I did when I could ride a bike before I got ataxia. (if you get what i mean). That goes for any movements as its in my arms now and speech.

    I play on Wii fit, some I can do from standing if they only take slight movement and dont need to hold controllers (as I have to hang onto walking frame with both hands!) Some, I worked out I can do from sitting on board then can hold controllers as my sitting balance is better.

    I'm surrounded by steep hills so can't even get off estate in manual chair can only manage it round house/garden and in flat shopping centre a friend takes me to a few times a year.

    The chair I was looking at is by Dragon mobility in Uk and it goes to floor level to allow me to transfer to floor easier for exercising and then get back up again, (or if fell over.. could slide over to chair, lower it to floor and get in) as well as raising up to access cupboards. As its designed for smaller adults (I'm only about 5ft 3) I thought it maybe more compact to get around my house easier than the bigger ones.

    http://www.dragonmobility.com/features.php

    Its the only chair that I know that can do this and would offer me the most independence I think for longer than I would normally be able to be independent under the circumstances.

    I can dress myself and things and they (the specialists) think I will not lose complete function of arms I will just get more involuntary movements and lose fine motor control which will ultimately make things more difficult to do myself I guess,.

    The dragon chair has torque controller and anti tremor thing that can be programmed to compensate for involuntary movements so I'm hoping this would allow me to use a joystick controller for longer also.

    I nearly ended up in front of a bus this morning when waiting to cross road and knocked my joystick and chair moved forwards to go off kerb. Luckily I hadn't knocked it hard enough for it to move more than a fraction but it shook me up a bit (especially as it was a double decker bus!) and made me think I need to find a safer way to control my chair especially if these movements are going to get worse (they are quite mild at moment but noticeable).

    I've already had to give up my driving license so have no access to car and been some distance from the town means wheelchair taxi vans are very expensive to get there on a regular basis (over £20 before I even started my shopping!)

    Getting out is a struggle but I manage fine around my own house on a daily basis and manage to get my dog out around the village myself everyday. I want to keep this level of ability for as long as possible.
    Last edited by Katilea; 08-02-2010 at 09:33 AM.

  5. #5
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    While I fought the power chair for a long time, the turning point for me was when I realized that my life was narrowing because of my inability to push any distance at all, and certainly not on inclines. I can still remember the first incline I did after I got my powerchair. It was such an amazing and liberating feeling that I turned around and did it again just for the hell of it. It is important to stay out in the world as much as we can, and if having a powerchair makes that more possible for you I say "go for it." I doubt if you would get lazy because I find using the powerchair in the kitchen to be a pain in the butt. Too many scraped cabinets and too big a turning radius, so for inside stuff (in my condo) I usually stay in my manual.

  6. #6
    Before you do permanent and consistently painful damage to your wrists and shoulders.

    GJ

  7. #7
    Whoa! that is quite a chair, I believe Permobil sells something similar for kids here. Would be great if you could get that chair. In the meantime, while waiting for bus please keep chair facing away from street so that if you accidently hit the control it doesn't imperil you.

  8. #8
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    If it increases the functionality & happiness in your life, then do so. If I lived in a city & wasn't so active outdoors, I'd possibly go w/ a power assist. But that nor a manual will get me where I need to go in the lifestyle I prefer. I understand the use or lose it theory & the health benefits associated with pushing but if it causes extreme pain & fatigue or it's a "vanity choice" to push, I don't find logic there.

  9. #9
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    The "use it or lose it" turns out to be paradoxical. Many of us were so enamoured of that phrase that we kept pushing long after we should have given our shoulders a rest. Don't make the same mistake because once the damage is done it is a major bitch.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    The "use it or lose it" turns out to be paradoxical. Many of us were so enamoured of that phrase that we kept pushing long after we should have given our shoulders a rest.
    Oh, I so agree! Overloading or straining the functional parts of the body can do serious damage. Of course, exercise is very important, but it needs to be of the kind that won't put your joints at risk. I once heard a therapist say that if a person asks whether or not it's time to go to a heavier-duty mobility aid, the fact that he or she has raised the question could be a signal that the answer is "yes." That statement certainly applied to me, at the time. My thought is that if you're able to acquire the electric chair, it couldn't hurt to do so - you might not need to use it all the time, but it could be a godsend if you encounter periods when you need to stop pushing the physical envelope. Best wishes to you!

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