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Thread: Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras : opinions, experience?

  1. #1
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Vancouver WA USA - - Male T4 ASIA B incomplete

    Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras : opinions, experience?

    Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras.

    I was curious to hear what others on here thought and felt about this, I'm still fairly new at this game, just 3 years post injury. Being crippled is bad enough, but I often wondered how much the manual wheelchair added to making my life more crippled than it necessarily should be. It seems there are so many things I just don't do or get frustrated with because I have to negotiate them with a manual wheelchair. I know it's a simple idiotic example, but to just carry a cup of coffee from the kitchen to the lounge is pretty much impossible without some innovative gymnastics. I watch a friend in his powerchair glide into the kitchen grab the cup with one hand and easily without thinking drive with the other hand bring me a cup of coffee!

    There is a member buegerman who has a website

    On this page of his site he discusses this, and I have to say I am some what in agreement.

    I have my own powered wheel chair attachment that I attach to my manual chair for getting around the city streets. I don't mind pushing myself 10 blocks, but when I just want to go to the supermarket pick up some groceries and head home, doing it all manually is more work and stress than I want to deal with. The weight of the groceries completely changes the balance of me and my chair, the extra weight makes pushing home a lot harder. In combination I really don't feel stable. To be honest I just want to get groceries I don't want a work out. If I want a work out then I'll go to the gym and use the appropriate equipment. With my powered attachment, I don't even think about it, but I still don't have a free hand, I need both hands to drive it and I can't use it around the apartment. At this point it feels like it would be totally luxury to be able to move around and have one hand free to actually do something, better still have a power chair that is mind controlled and have both my hands back.

    What do other paras think?

  2. #2
    Call me brainwashed if you will but as long as I can physically do what I need to do in a manual chair I will use a manual chair. Aside from very steep hills there is nothing I can't do in my manual chair that a power chair would do for me. I can get myself and my zra in my car in 30 seconds, no ramps, vans or any special equipment. I can take normal taxi cabs (well most of them). Plus its one of the only forms of exercise I get on a regular basis. I am not judging other people, but to me it would be a form of giving up.

  3. #3
    wheelchair is for home, movies and little area that you can get around as you post. I do have a electric and thats when I go joy riding lol.. The streets and side walk in Camden NJ are terrible but its good to have both 4yrs post I must admit...
    life begins when you walk in spirit

  4. #4
    Your profile doesn't indicate what level para you are.

    There is something to be said about conservation of energy to do the important things in life, and the opinions you will get here will run from rah!rah! to pragmatic. I would advise that you decide what you can do, what you need to do, and what you want to do and make up your mind about the need for a power chair for your well being and life style. Don't let the mind set of being a para and not needing assistance rule your head. Make the right decision for yourself, not for anyone else. You may have the choice of the best of both worlds....a power chair when you want or need to conserve energy and a manual chair when you want to get more of a work out or when you have more energy to expend. It is your choice.

    All the best,

  5. #5
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Vancouver WA USA - - Male T4 ASIA B incomplete
    Quote Originally Posted by gjnl View Post
    Your profile doesn't indicate what level para you are.

    T4 - incomplete.

    I should have added the overwhelming pressure opinion of the medical profession/insurance companies, is you're a para you get a manual chair, thinking about a powerchair is giving up. Your quality of life is irrelevant in their equations, they've read the book and drunk the koolaid not once is a power adaption/powerchair considered..

    I understand the weight, and convenience argument for an unmodified car, if that is crucial then keep a manual chair for use with your car, but even just carrying groceries to your car is such a pain in the butt.

    I'm all about the Segway chair to be honest.
    CareCure Segway wheelchair Thread

  6. #6
    These things are tools. Like wrenches, pliers, glasses, hammers, crutches, paint brushes.
    Pick the right tool for the job and the job is easier.
    I have a piece of crap manual chair for welding, painting.
    A clean, painted, one for dress up occasions.
    I rent a scooter for, state fair, car show. So I can hold a beer and go at the same time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Susqu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Northeast Maryland
    I would think the best thing is to have both types, but not always affordable. Each have their pros and cons.

    I use a manual because:
    It gives me some exercise that I would miss just having a power chair. (and heaven knows I need exercise)

    It gives me a bit larger choice of vehicles that I can drive.

    I don't have to worry about dead batteries or other motor troubles that could leave me stranded. (there's enough to go wrong with a manual chair without adding all the electrical breakdowns to it)

    On the other hand, with a power chair:
    I could get up steeper slopes and go farther without worrying about wearing out my arms and shoulders.

    I could go over rougher terrain without getting stuck so easy.

    I could use it one handed leaving the other hand free to be useful in other ways.

    Anyone else with pros and cons??? Just for info, I'm at the T-12 complete level.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Seattle, WA
    NW-Will - please tell me about this powered add-on you have!!

    I agree with Susqu, there are pros and cons. I listen to all the trouble that my friends who use power chairs encounter (faulty wiring, bad battery connections, running out of juice in the rain, etc) and I feel lucky that I have the choice to use a manual chair!

    It will depend what type of power chair you use, but I tried running around in one, and I found that a lot of stuff I do easily in my manual chair became really hard (closing certain types of doors, picking up stuff off the floor). Not to mention that all those times when I accidentally bump a wall and just cause a little scrape (in manual) would cause a BIG scrape in a power chair. I'd love to have a power chair now and then, but most of the time my manual one suits me best.

  9. #9
    I use both types I have a old 2 Hp that barely fits in my bathroom door opening that is why I prefer my elec in my home plus I can carry a cup of water , cook etc ..

    shopping I use y Gti 5 degrees camber it rubs my walls in my home but great for stores etc...Lightweight and fast I use hand nubs to push myself

    I have a homemade beater elec outside chair it is a work horse basically mid wheel drive square frame and pneumatic tires It is ugly a bare frame power module . 2 batts , couple of motors lol cost about $150 to build 5 yrs back

    Last edited by GL; 03-31-2011 at 01:04 AM.

  10. #10
    Power chairs are sometimes a pain in the butt but 2nd hand ones are good to have incase our shoulders bother us .

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