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Thread: Considering a switch from manual to power.

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Considering a switch from manual to power.

    What?s up guys!

    So, I?ve been a c5/c6 quad for 13 years and have used a manual chair since day one and never a power chair. I’m at the point in my injury where I still want to use my manual, but where I live I feel it is limiting my independence.

    I live in a rural area of Massachusetts, winters aren?t the kindest here and I?m a youth pastor and many of the outings I take my teens on can be hard to manage in a manual (such as say Apple picking).

    I do not know much about power chairs but I just never cared for how bulky they were. I don?t need a whole bunch of fancy bells and whistles, I?m just looking for something that is somewhat compact, and can handle various terrains and weather conditions.

    Any power chairs that come to mind I should look into?

    Any help would be awesome!

  2. #2
    What is your insurance?

    If Medicare, you will need to get an evaluation for a power chair done by a RESNA certified therapist, who will also most likely recommend, and ideally have some chairs for you to try. They then write up the medical justification letter for all the features and brand/model of chair that you have selected together, which is signed by your physician as a prescription, and submitted by the vendor to Medicare for prior approval. This can take 6-12 months.

    Also, keep in mind that Medicare does NOT consider the need for a power chair to be any type of community mobility, so don't include that in your justification letter. It needs to explain why you need the power chair within your home. Many private insurances use these same Medicare guidelines.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Thank you for the info sci nurse, it is greatly appreciated! I know most of that info, I’m more looking for advice on what types of power chair will fit my needs such as compact size etc. that people on here have used. I have Mass Health for insurance.

  4. #4
    There's also the Spinergy ZX1 and the Freewheel for the front. Like you, my shoulders are shot and of course they pushed for me to use a powerchair. I use my ZX1 for most of my outings much more now. I keep my Freewheel in the van for times where it's rough uneven terrain. With the ZX, once I get to my destination, I can disengage my ZX and be in my manual rather than a powerchair. The ZX only weighs about 75 pounds vs 350 or so for powerchair and is very compact compared to a power chair. I can go places with this combo a power chair could never go. If I get stuck, I just disengage, pull it out of the rut, engage it again and be on my way. If you do go with a ZX1, get the Lithium batteries. I have two ZX's and the SLA battery lasts maybe a mile and a half while the Lith. goes fo miles before running down.

  5. #5
    I agree with Patrick, but maybe only you need the freewheel part:
    And maybe consider wider rear tire treads.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  6. #6
    What Patrick Madsen said. If you want something no frills the ZX1 with or without the attachment of a Freewheel is great. I got to the point where I could not handle outdoor wheeling (even on pavement - my shoulders had given out) and got a ZX1 about six years ago. I keep the Freewheel in the garage and would attach it to go on semi rough terrain, such as art show held on grass, etc.
    The ZX1 fits onto the camber bar of a non-folding wheelchair. I'm not sure they ever came up with attachment to a folding chair. The Freewheel device attaches to the footrest, clamp-on style, and measurements needed for an order.

    It's nice you don't have to transfer into the ZX1 like a person would a power wheelchair - you just back up to it and use the controls to attach....your rear wheels pop up a tiny bit and you're good to go. I detach mine when I return to the house from outdoors. I only use it indoors if I have an achy shoulders day.

    Big consideration is how you will transport it. We have a van with a lift. At about 75 pounds, a wheeler doesn't always have a pal who can lift that into a car trunk. Also, as far as I know there is not (YET) a way to lock down a ZX1 for van driving while it's attached to wheelchair. It would need to be unattached from wheelchair if a person drives from wheelchair with the custom lockdowns for the chair. I can transfer to the drivers' seat with it attached to my chair and then secure with bungee cord.

    I've seen the ads for a travel power wheelchair that appears lightweight but don't think it could traverse an apple orchard.

    Hope you find something suitable and let us know about it.
    Last edited by triumph; 09-14-2019 at 09:15 AM. Reason: (ZX1 fits onto camber bar)

  7. #7
    the zx1 is best of both worlds for us. i use mine only when needed and its perfect for that. at our level the freewheel is great with zx, without its a bit of a challenge rep
    c4/5 inc funtioning c6. 28 yrs post.
    sponsored handcycle racer

  8. #8
    I’ve had Whill CI for about 9 mos. and have been happy with it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    I would love the zx1, that was my initial hope, but my insurance will not cover them unfortunately.

  10. #10

    Regarding "... youth pastor ... Apple picking ... compact ... various terrains and weather ..." -

    your situation is a really good match for Burgerman's DIY power chair. It's fast, robust, compact, and capable of navigating terrains that are commonly a challenge for power chairs. It's applicability to your situation notwithstanding, folks you know would need to make it from the specifications cited on Burgerman's site. The re-released ibot is also especially well suited to your situation. Barring the DIY and ibot solutions, and your "... still want to use my manual ..." preference, a good option is securing a used power chair directly from a family who no longer needs it.

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