Besides aiding in mobility, wheelchairs act as body extension by allowing users to move from one place to another. Furthermore, wheelchairs help users regain their independence and move freely without depending on others. In previous years, people believed that wheelchairs were only for people with permanent mobility conditions.
However, this has changed as you can use mobility scooters temporarily. More so, modern companies are designing wheelchairs in different styles to meet users’ requirements. Whether you need to use the wheelchair temporarily or permanently, it is essential to maintain mobility independence. Lack of this independence can affect your psychological, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
However, you don’t have to lose your freedom. Nowadays, you can get versatile, developed, and more customizable wheelchairs. Wheelchairs, whether manual or automatic, needs to be comfortable. One factor determining the usability and comfortability of a manual wheelchair is height. Nowadays, manufacturers produce wheelchairs in different heights depending on the user’s needs.
Does Height Affect the Wheelchair’s Functionality?
According to experts, the height of the wheelchair back to recommend to a user is determined by the severity of their support needs. Therefore, different users will be recommended to wheelchairs with varying heights depending on their conditions.
People suffering from low-thoracic spinal cord injuries (SCI) require low-back wheelchairs since they only support their lumbar spine. People in this condition have adequate trunk balance thus do not require high-back wheelchairs. Low-back wheelchairs assist in upper-extremity motion and detecting trunk rotation.
Mid-range wheelchairs interfere less with the user’s upper extremity function and motion. They also provide more postural and lateral trunk support. Typically, mid-range backs reach up to the user’s lower scapula region.
SPI users with tetraplegia and fully-fledged conditions require high-back wheelchairs since they provide more intensive support. Clinicians recommend high-back wheelchairs to people using tilt/recline since they offer adequate support to users depending on their positioning patterns. Most high-back wheelchairs reach up to the shoulder edge of the user. More so, they may provide headrests and additional trunk support.
Which Other Factors Affect Back Height Choices?
Besides the clinical and functional factors, you should also consider the following while selecting the best wheelchair for your loved one:
Users who frequently use wheelchairs to transit in automobiles require high-back wheelchairs to attach chest harnesses or other passenger restraint systems. Before selecting the wheelchair, determine the user’s transportation needs and expectations.
Wheelchairs should be kept as light as possible for easier usability. Therefore, remove all components that add unnecessary weight to the wheelchair’s back.
You need to consider if the user feels comfortable while using the wheelchair. If the user feels intimidated by the device, maybe because it interferes with performing various actions, they will be unresponsive. Therefore, select a wheelchair that meets their needs and makes them feel comfortable.
Determine the pros and cons of the wheelchair and find out why the clinician is recommending a particular wheelchair. Also, show empathy to encourage users to speak out about their needs. Since they are mainly worried about how they will perform various duties, work together with the evaluation team to develop solutions.