Wheelchairs for Paralyzed: A Comprehensive Guide

If you have paralysis, a wheelchair is essential for mobility and independence. It can help you get around, do your daily activities, and live a full life.

This guide covers the different types of wheelchairs available for people with paralysis, as well as important factors to consider when choosing one. 

What Is Paralysis?

Paralysis is a condition that causes loss of muscle function and feeling in parts of the body. It happens when the brain can't send signals to the muscles.

Many things, such as spinal cord injuries, strokes, and brain injuries, can cause paralysis.

Different Types of Paralysis

Paralysis can affect different parts of the body depending on where the damage is. The main types of paralysis are:

  • Quadriplegia: All four limbs and the torso are paralyzed.

  • Paraplegia: The legs and, sometimes, the trunk are paralyzed.

  • Hemiplegia: One side of the body is paralyzed.

  • Monoplegia: One limb is paralyzed.

  • Diplegia: Both legs or both arms are paralyzed.

Types of Wheelchairs for Paralyzed Individuals

When choosing a wheelchair for someone with paralysis, it’s important to consider their specific needs, mobility level, and lifestyle. Here are the different types of wheelchairs commonly used by paralyzed individuals: 

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are moved by the user's upper body strength, making them light, portable, and good for short distances. Ideal for those with enough arm strength and control, they come in different sizes and can be customized for height, weight, and seating needs. 

Power Wheelchairs 

Electric power wheelchairs use a motor and rechargeable battery for people with limited upper body strength or mobility. They provide more independence for indoor and outdoor use, often with joystick controls for easy navigation. Power wheelchairs have various drive types, like rear-wheel, front-wheel, and mid-wheel drive, each with its own advantages. 

Standing Wheelchairs 

Standing wheelchairs help paralyzed individuals stand up, offering many physical and mental benefits. They improve blood circulation, kidney function, muscle tone, and social interaction. These wheelchairs can be operated manually or electrically, with adjustable height options for user preferences. 

Tilt-in-Space Wheelchairs

Tilt-in-space wheelchairs let users change the seat and backrest angles together. This helps prevent sliding and gives more comfort to people with paralysis. These wheelchairs relieve pressure, improve posture, and make caregiving easier.

Reclining Wheelchairs

Reclining wheelchairs let users adjust the backrest without moving the seat. They're best suited for people who need to change positions or extra body support. Using these wheelchairs can bring benefits like more comfort, relief from pressure, and better circulation. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Wheelchair 

  • Level of Paralysis: Understand the person's paralysis level and what they need to move around.

  • Budget and Insurance: Figure out the cost and if insurance will help. Consider maintenance and extra expenses.

  • Fit and Comfort: Make sure the wheelchair fits the person's height, width, and seating needs. A good fit prevents posture issues and discomfort.

  • Lifestyle and Environment: Think about the person's lifestyle, like if they need the wheelchair indoors or outdoors, for transportation or sports.

  • Ease of Use: Check how easy the wheelchair is to use, including moving, turning, and staying stable on different surfaces.

  • Accessories: Decide if additions or customizations are needed, like special seating, headrests, or aids for positioning.

What to Do If You Need a Wheelchair

If you or a loved one needs a wheelchair, follow these steps:

  1. Consult with Healthcare Professionals: Speak with your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist to assess your mobility needs and determine the type of wheelchair suitable for your condition.

  2. Check Insurance Coverage: Contact your insurance provider to understand their coverage for wheelchairs. Obtain a prescription from your healthcare professional if required.

  3. Work with Mobility Specialists: Consult with mobility specialists or wheelchair vendors who can guide you through the wheelchair selection process. They can help evaluate your needs, recommend appropriate options, and provide training on wheelchair usage.

Need a Wheelchair or Adjustments? Contact Us Today! 

Freedom Mobility is a trusted complex rehab technology provider that offers a wide range of wheelchairs and mobility solutions. Whether you need rehab equipment or repair services, you can count on our RESNA-certified Assistive Technology experts to assist you. 

 Call 800-980-5696 or contact us today for a personalized consultation!