“I want the cheapest wheelchair.” This is the most common sentences that is asked by customers when they step into a pharmacy. The reason why most of people say this is because their family member only uses a wheelchair occasionally or short term, not long term; or they are not willing to spend money on something which is not essential in their life.
How to measure the price of a wheelchair?
Some people will describe a wheelchair as “the more features, the higher price.” However, the more functions, DOESN’T MEAN the better. It is necessary to assess which wheelchair functions are most suitable based on the physical condition of the user. If you only buy a wheelchair because of the price, but don’t properly fit the body, or the warranty service is not perfect, you may spend more time, energy and money in the long run. Below, are the five major functions that will help you figure out what it is that you need!
1. Basic Functions – short range travel
The wheelchair with the most basic functions is basically a steel chair with four wheels. In Malaysia, a unit price is about RM350. This is the most common wheelchair found in a hospital. The cushion has little to no support, a heavy frame, and a low comfort level. It is made for short-term use, and it is not recommended to use long term.
2. Lightweight Frame – easy to lift and navigate
Aluminium wheelchairs are lighter than steel and can be carried easily. It’s suitable for users who can walk, but who can’t walk far and are unstable. General aluminium wheelchairs are priced from RM300 to RM2000. The functions listed below play an important role to determine the price of a wheelchair:
- Is the wheelchair backrest foldable? Wheelchairs can be heavy. If you can’t put it in the car trunk, it will be very inconvenient to go out. The foldable backrest is a simple function. With just one press, the backrest can be folded, and the height can be reduced about 25 cm, which is convenient for storage or going out.
- How light is the weight of the wheelchair? The lighter the wheelchair, the easier for the caregiver to carry. Of course, the price will be more expensive! For every kilogram of wheelchair on the market, the difference will be about RM500 to RM2000.
- How comfortable is the seat? Various wheelchair manufacturers have begun to innovate special structure for the cushion (for example: S-curved cushion) to the thickened seat cushion. The price difference is also about RM500 to RM1000. Users are advised to go to the shop to try for themselves.
- Is it safe? Wheelchairs that have been Crash Test Approved, will typically be priced higher. It is added value to the wheelchair quality and also peace of mind for the users.
3. Transferring from a wheelchair
Aluminium wheelchairs with the added ease of transferring, the value is different! The so-called “transfer function” is where you can unscrew or flip up the armrests and footrests to make the wheelchair closer to the bed and reduce the barrier of the wheelchair. Make getting on and off wheelchairs safer. It’s suitable for patients who cannot walk, but can sit steadily in a wheelchair, or have inflexible hands and feet, and need help from others to get on and off the wheelchair.
These wheelchairs on the market are RM800 to RM2000 more expensive than aluminium wheelchairs.
4. Reclining Wheelchair- posture change relieves pressure
The reclining function allows the patient to lie down and rest in a wheelchair. This function is suitable for patients who can’t walk, can’t sit steadily, and have weak upper body.
These types of wheelchairs, collectively referred to as high-back wheelchairs, are roughly divided into three types: Tilt-in-Space, Reclining, Reclining + Tilt-in-Space in which the two functions are combined. For every additional function, the price will of course increase.
5. Reclining and Tilting Wheelchair
Finally, this wheelchair is a “superb wheelchair” that can be reclined and tilted, suitable for all disabled patients who need to rest in a wheelchair for long periods of time.
As a reminder, the price of the 2-in-1 wheelchair is very different. If the sturdiness and safety of the wheelchair structure are not guaranteed, it could break and cause second injury to the patient.
Evaluating the user’s needs and requirements for a wheelchair requires professional knowledge. Finding a physical or occupational therapist for a wheelchair evaluation is the best option. If the disability level of the user is low, you can go a pharmacy or healthcare shop with a good reputation and ask for their professional opinion.
Choose a wheelchair that fits the user, and not the price!