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Thread: When to Replace Power Chair?

  1. #1

    When to Replace Power Chair?

    Feel free to move this to the equipment forum if needed, but I wanted to be sure the SCI-Nurses saw this too.

    I got my current power wheelchair in August of 2001. When should I get a new one? How do I go about getting a new one?

    I have an Invacare Ranger that they ordered for me at Craig. The actuator motor for the tilt broke for the second time in a year. Now that I'm very active in getting out, I think it's time for something different.

    The main reason I'm looking into this now is because my medical coverage will be changing soon. Currently I am covered by my father's employer's group insurance policy, Medicare and Medicaid. I just started a new job not too long ago and I will lose my eligibility for Medicaid and my father's BCBS policy. I will be on my university's insurance next year, but I'd like to look into the possibility of getting a new chair before all of these changes take place.

    Anybody else have experience with this? Recommendations?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    A lot depends on the condition the chair is in. Does it still fit (weight gain or loss?), have the repairs been effective or does it still break down a lot? Generally when doing a life-care plan, for someone who is very active, I plan to replace a power chair every 4-5 years, and a manual chair ever 3-4. A lot depends on the differences in the policies of your two insurances. Can you get any information about your new insurance ahead of time?

    (KLD)

  3. #3
    It still fits pretty well because I've only gained about 10-15 lbs. since it was ordered. It hasn't broke down a lot because I used to be pretty inactive. Since I've started working and getting out a lot it has broke down a few times.

    Who determines if I'm in need of a new chair? If a physical therapist or SCI doctor can convince insurance to pay for it, would I get a new one even though this one is just over 4 years old?

    I live in a very rural area. We have only 1 SCI doctor in the state and my wheelchair repair/vendor is an hour away. Because of the uncertainty of my future insurance policy, would it be smart for me to try to get a new one now?

    Thanks for the input.

  4. #4
    If you can get a good letter of medical justification from your physician (be sure reliability of the chair importance is emphasized from a safety standpoint), and you can get it funded now, and you know what you want/need, I would get it now.

    (KLD)

  5. #5
    Does anyone know if medicare or the VA has a "standard" age that they have set for a power chair or van conversion replacement?

    If they have that might go a long way to help convince an insurance company when replacement is warranted.

    I've heard the VA will replace a vehicle every 3-4 years but I cannot verify that.

    Rick C

  6. #6
    Getting a new chair -power or manual, depends on a lot of factors, as I'm sure you're aware. Sometimes, one's insurance will be most critical in determining when and how a chair is covered. Many will evaluate how repairable a chair is before new purchase, despite long-term this being possibly not cost-effective. Medicaid and Medicare t e nd to be time -dependent and will resist purchase of a new chair before 5 years since last purchase. However, if there is significant changes in health and function, that makes it impossible for you to use your chair, and if your daily functioning might require purchase of additional equipment or costly modifications, they might consider new purchase of chair.

    Contents of Letter of Neccessity is critical.

    Thoughts RE some of your other comments:
    Quote Originally Posted by cjo
    It still fits pretty well because I've only gained about 10-15 lbs. since it was ordered. It hasn't broke down a lot because I used to be pretty inactive. Since I've started working and getting out a lot it has broke down a few times.
    Best NOT to dismiss weight gain. DO NOT say 'only' gained. Weight gain, even 10-15 lbs can have SIGNIFICANT affect on function and fit in chair- seating/positioning, posture, pain, and other adverse health effects that may COST your insurance more in future if they were not to invest the lesser cost to new power chair.

    You USED to be pretty inactive, but NOW had lifestyle changes that require and demand you use chair differently, more often, and in ways that should assist in your activities more than before . You had significant life and activity changes since time of injury and purchase of current chair. Be sure to note how these changes impact upon your life and what costs there might be to you and subsequently to insurance, if you were not to have benefit of a new chair.
    Who determines if I'm in need of a new chair? If a physical therapist or SCI doctor can convince insurance to pay for it, would I get a new one even though this one is just over 4 years old?
    Physiatrist and Physical Therapist. Often, having a PT evaluate and your physicatrist both to sign off on LON is helpful. Good LON does not guarantee, esp. if insurance policy is very rigid.
    I live in a very rural area. We have only 1 SCI doctor in the state and my wheelchair repair/vendor is an hour away. Because of the uncertainty of my future insurance policy, would it be smart for me to try to get a new one now?
    Be good to try for new chair now. If denied, can then pursue with new insurance policy. If current policy covers, and you switch to a new policy, you might have easier time with new policy when you need a new chair again, since they haven't purchased any for you yet.

  7. #7
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    New W/C

    I say go for it. Your needs have changed. KLD and Chick covered it well but I do have something to add........Be sure to keep your old chair and try to get it in good working order, because it is such a bitch to be without when something goes wrong with the primary chair (can you tell we just went thru this?). We went thru the actuator blues these past few months, finally found a female tech that knew what she was doing and fixed it, after several attempts by others. We were spoiledin Tn by a tech that made housecalls, was 24/7, and had demos for emergent use. That isn't the case where we are now. I will feel more comfortable with a back-up when new chair time rolls around, Jim is really dependent on his tilt function, despite my trying to get him more independent with repositioning. Deb

  8. #8
    Thanks for all of the input. I put a call in to my doctor today.

    chick, have you gone through this in the last several years? Any other tips on the LON?

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