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Wheelchairs at HAD

There are many things to consider when purchasing a wheelchair. In general, if the chair is for anything other than occasional use, we at HAD recommend that some form of assessment or "try before you buy" takes place. This is to ensure the chair is of a suitable size, weight and design both for the person in the chair and for the people (if any) who will be pushing and lifting it. HAD has a large range of chairs available in the equipment centre which we are more than happy to show our visitors. Indeed, we have found that the only way to know if a chair is comfortable is for the user to try sitting in it!

However, we know it is not possible for everyone to visit Welwyn Garden City, so, if purchasing a chair from us over the internet or from anyone else these are some of the things we suggest you consider-;

Who will be pushing and lifting the chair?
Do they have any medical conditions which might make this difficult or dangerous to their health

Examples include breathing, heart or back conditions amongst many others!

Wheelchair weights vary. Generally self propelled wheelchairs will always be heavier than attendant pushed however most HAD self propelled chairs come with quick release wheels for transporting.

Will they be able to lift it in and out of the car?

Are there any existing health problems (e.g. back problems) which would make this difficult?

Is the chair wide enough or too wide for the intended user?

Its always a good idea to allow room for outdoor wear and to make sure that there is no risk of rubbing on the thighs if the width looks too snug.

Some HAD wheechairs are available in alternative widths to those stated so please telephone for more information if required.

Is the chair’s user weight limit sufficient?

Is the user’s weight liable to fluctuate? Especailly in an upwards direction if they are close to the chair’s maximum user weight.

Please note ALL weight bearing products will have a maximum user weight and if this is exceeded not only will it be unsafe but will not be covered by any manufacturer’s warranties.

Is a comfort or pressure cushion needed? We at HAD would recommend that a cushion is always used with a wheelchair!

If they are intending to self-propel, is the user strong enough to do so (it is much more difficult than many people think especially on uneven ground and gradients.

How long each day or at any one time will the user be sitting in the chair?

This will effect the comfort level required and may require extras thought with regard to pressure relief.

Will the chair fit into the car it will be transported in?

All wheelchairs fold down but it is still important to check they will fit in to the car in which the user will be transported.

If you have had a leg amputated then you may need a special adaptation. Please seek advice.

Guide to fitting a wheelchair

HAD does not provide “bespoke” wheelchairs. The widths and depth of the seating is therefore of only a limited range. However, given this, please take account of the following-:

  1. Check the weight limit of the chair is appropriate
  2. Measure the user at the widest point across the hips to ensure the correct width. Please allow an extra 1" each side to allow for winter clothing.
  3. Make sure that the footrests are set at the correct height. Thighs should be level and knees at 90 degrees. Allow for the extra height of any cushion going into the chair.

If in any doubt or for further advice, please telephone HAD. If we don’t have a chair to meet your needs we will try to find someone who does!

Some tips on wheelchair safety

Always make sure the brakes are on when getting in and out Always make sure the footrests are completely out of the way when getting in or out.

If the wheelchair is fitted with a lapstrap, use it! HAD offer two options on line the wheelchair belt auto buckle and the velcro wheelchair belt.

Never go down kerbs forwards or up backwards. Use drop kerbs whenever possible.

If self-propelling, be very careful going over bumps. If not fitted with anti-tip bars your chair can go over backwards!

Do not lean too far forward in your chair. Again, the chair may tip! Never stand on the footrests.

Be careful of going up or down very steep slopes as the wheelchair could tip. The very maximum recommended gradient for a ramp is 1:12.

For more detailed user advice we recommend the Disabled Living Foundation information sheet.

HAD also has a range of wheelchair accessories.

Wheelchair carry bags can be be useful but be careful not to over fill them with heavy tiems as this could effect the balance of the wheelchair.

In inclement weather cover ups such as macs and ponchos can be useful.


HAD Occupational Therapists