Time for a New Wheelchair? Part II

This is Part II of a two part series on purchasing a new wheelchair. Today’s post discusses how to make sure your new chair is right for you.

After doing research and choosing things that I thought I’d like in a chair, now it was time to meet with someone who is trained in seating and mobility. Just like when I was in therapy after my initial injury, we needed to work together and trust one another.

I had chosen two chairs that “looked” interesting to me… and by that I mean looked cool, but also had some features that I thought would meet my needs. We were able to talk about what I do on a daily basis, how much time I spend in my chair, the things I liked about my current chair, and the things I did not like about it. We also looked at the fit to decide if we would go with the same measurements, or make some changes.

I ultimately decided on a Ti Lite TR3. I liked that it could be custom made with a tapered front and was very light weight. I also felt it would meet my needs and be safe for me in all I do as an active wheeler. Thankfully, so did the therapist who helped me!

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Mark and his therapist Gina take measurements for his new wheelchair.

But remember what I said about how getting a new wheelchair isn’t like buying something off of Amazon? Well, it’s not. After agreeing on the chair, we still had a lot of work to do, like taking series of measurements, choosing options like the color (I chose a very cool black!), and other features, like the type of back, type of wheels and casters, and other things that would help me get to where I need to go safely. We then passed these measurements on to the manufacturer and who created a CAD drawing so I could be sure that everything I wanted could be made in the sizes I wanted before they began to make the chair.

In my case, it took two drawing to be sure everything was right, and then the chair proceeded to manufacturing. The time to receive your new chair varies, but in my case, it went out for shipping just two weeks after I placed the order. In most cases, the chair comes almost complete and ready to go right out of the box. My therapist checked it out to make sure the measurements were right, put the wheels on, tightened the breaks, and then was as excited as I was to see me in it.

But her job was not done just yet. We went outside and tried lots of things I need to do, like go up and down ramps and curbs, reach to the ground to pick something up while making sure I was safe and balanced properly, and transfer in and out of it safely.

After all of that was done successfully, there was one last step to be done, and that was for me to be pressure mapped. This should be done any time your seating position, cushion or chair changes, and only takes about 10 minutes to do. Our therapists at Magee can help with this, or the same person who helped you decide it was time for a new chair should be able to help.

Checking my skin for the first several days was important for me to do to since lots of angles and pressure points were different. Thankfully, all of these things worked perfectly, and I am now enjoying my brand new chair.

If you take anything away from this, know that getting a new chair is not something that should be done alone. Knowing I had the therapists and Seating Clinic at Magee to help me make sure I made the right decision was incredibly comforting to me. Getting a new wheelchair is truly a team effort – and when you’re cruising in a comfortable, safe and functional chair made just for you, you’ll be glad you had that team behind you!

We want to hear from you! What was your experience with getting a new wheelchair? Any tips to add?

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  • Christina Loffredo Passarella

    Mark, I love reading your posts especially about travel. Anyway I am on my 3rd wheelchair and again it does not fit me properly. I told them exactly what I needed and wanted and it does not fit me the way I would like it to. I love Magee and the staff and even National Mobility is a great bunch of people. BUT I have never received a wheelchair that fits me properly. I could go on and on. Also its very impressive how fast you are able to receive your wheelchair. My equipment takes months like 4-5 months. My last wheelchair I received this past March and it took almost a year. And I have real good insurance with Medicare as a secondary. I’m a stay at home mom with 2 kids and a husband. I trust the Magee and National Seating staff to measure me and tell me what they think would be good but again my chair doesn’t fit. My calves hit the back of the cushion and my feet don’t stay on the footplate. We all knew this in the measuring process and its the same nightmare as the other chairs. I called National Seating but didn’t hear back yet. They will probably just want to cut the cushion like last time. Any advice you could give me would be great. And if I can help you in anyway, let me know. We travel a lot as a family and just purchased an accessible Rv that we are waiting to get.
    Thank you, Christina Passarella

  • jennifermf

    I had an awful experience getting my chair in Berkeley CA. They measured wrong and the chair is causing pain but the store won’t do anything about it.

    When I went to pick my chair up, they wheeled it out and walked away!

    It was awful. I can’t imagine how great this authors experience was.

  • Magee Rehabilitation

    Hi Christina,

    Thank you so much for your comment! We are sorry you are having this issue, and are very glad you reached out. We are currently working internally to see how we can help. Someone from our team will be contacting you within the week to discuss next steps. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.