Silver Fern Therapy
Call us today on 02921 660346

Our Services

News

Call us today on 02921 660346
Call us today on 02921 660346

This is a very quick overview of the different types of chair available.  It doesn't go into great detail, or include every option - we'll save the detail for later posts!  But if you're wondering what is available in the wheelchair market, this post might be a good start.  If you need any specific detail about any of the chairs, please let us know.

 

Standard Wheelchair

Standard wheelchairs are typically used by people for occasional use.  They come in a range of sizes, but their configuration is often limited.  Standard wheelchairs almost always fold for storage.  Most standard wheelchairs will have a transit option with small rear wheels, designed for the wheelchair user to be pushed by someone else.  They will typically have a self-propelling option as well, with large rear wheels, designed for the wheelchair user to propel themselves, using their arms.

Standard wheelchairs can be fitted with parts and accessories to make them useful for more complex users who use their wheelchairs frequently.  The addition of a contoured cushion, backrest, lateral supports and headrest can enable a standard wheelchair to be used for a more complex, full time user.

 

Active User Wheelchair

Active user wheelchairs are used by people who often use their wheelchairs for all their mobility.  Active user wheelchairs are configured to be efficient to propel by the wheelchair user themselves.  They are typically lighter weight than standard wheelchairs and have more weight distributed over the rear wheels.  The front wheels (casters) of an active user chair are often smaller than standard wheelchairs.  This helps to reduce rolling resistance and make the chair easier to turn.  Active user wheelchairs are configured very precisely for each person.  They therefore have many size and configuration options to tailor the wheelchair to each person and the way that they use the wheelchair.

 

Powered Wheelchair (Powerchairs)

Powerchairs are typically used by people who lack sufficient arm movement or strength to propel a manual wheelchair or are limited by distance or terrain.  Powerchairs have electric motors powered by batteries.  Control of the motors is usually via a joystick on the armrest, however other parts of the body can be used as well.  Powerchairs enable people to mobilise with very minimal effort.  Basic powerchairs are used indoors only and will have a small turning circle to cope with doorways and small spaces.  Larger powerchairs enable outdoor use as well and will cope with hills, rougher terrain and have larger battery capacity.  Some powerchairs are designed for outdoor use only and will cope with off-road terrain.

 

Tilt in space Wheelchair

Tilt in space tips the seating of the wheelchair backwards (imagine tipping a dining chair onto its back legs) and allows gravity to ‘push’ the upper body of the wheelchair user against the backrest of the wheelchair.  This enables the user to maintain a sitting position, but with reduced muscle control.  Tilt in space also helps with pressure relief by re-distributing weight bearing from the cushion to the backrest.  For users using a hoist to transfer to their wheelchair, tilt in space can make this transfer easier, allowing the angle of the seating to match that of the user in their hoisted position.  For other users, tilt in space enables them to adjust their own position, using gravity to assist them slide back over the cushion.

 

Bariatric Wheelchair

Obesity is defined by Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30.  Those with a BMI above 40 are considered morbidly obese or bariatric.  Specific wheelchairs, both manual and powered, are available for this weight range.  They will often look like other wheelchairs but have different construction materials or design that provides greater strength.  They will have a size range that is larger than other wheelchairs.

Link below to our second product review.  We take the Quickie Q700M (mid wheel drive) with Sedeo seating from Sunrise Medical and plough through some deep mud!  

We'd love to hear your feedback, so get in touch.  Don't be shy!

If there's a product you'd like to know more about, let us know:  info@silverferntherapy.co.uk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9vTxvj0Uw0

John

Link below to our first product review.  We take the Quickie Q700F with Sedeo seating and plough through some deep mud!  

We'd love to hear your feedback, so get in touch.  Don't be shy!

If there's a product you'd like to know more about, let us know:  info@silverferntherapy.co.uk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Qwj7R1KbY&t

John

Here's a link the first video on our new YouTube channel!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9vTxvj0Uw0

We know its a bit rough around the edges, but its the content that counts right?

We want to review a wheelchair every few weeks and give our subscribers some real world information on how the chair performs.  We'd even love to get wheelchair users involved, so if you're up for appearing in our videos, please get in contact:  info@silverferntherapy.co.uk

Our first two videos will review the Quickie Q700 from Sunrise Medical.  We'll look at the outdoor driving performance of the front wheel drive and mid wheel drive versions of this wheelchair.  

Hope you like them.  As always, we'd love to hear your feedback.  Don't be shy!

John

We now have a YouTube channel! 

We're not 100% sure how the channel is going to develop in the future, however to start with we're going to use it for product reviews.

We have two reviews lined up already for two wheelchairs from Sunrise Medical: Quickie Q700F and Quickie Q700M.

Here's a link to our channel.  Please subscribe and we're really keen on your feedback.  If there's something you'd like us to review, please tell us!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3qOVEd2t-hQ0UueUDIGLkw

John

What affects the manoeuvrability and self-propelling efficiency of a manual wheelchair? There are a whole host of variables that have influence, and we’ll cover some of them in this article.  We’ll go into more detail in future articles.

The main objective of a wheelchair is for the user to have maximum functionality, comfort and mobility. An inadequate wheelchair, as well as being uncomfortable, can cause sliding, leaning to the side, or generally uncomfortable postures, which can cause problems in the long run. It may also put certain muscle groups at risk of injury or result in a position that is not strong or efficient for self-propelling.   The shoulder is not a particularly stable or strong joint of the body, yet self-propelling a wheelchair is asking the shoulders to provide the engine behind the wheelchair’s motion.  Think how many times those shoulders are going to be used.  Soft tissue injury around the shoulder is a real risk, therefore anything that can be done to increase the efficiency of the push, or reduce the strength required to push, will reduce the risk of injury. That is why it should always be the chair that should fit your needs and not the other way around.

When assessing the suitability of a wheelchair, four factors need to be considered. How the weight is distributed between the wheels, what the centre of gravity is, the ground on which it is to be used, and the technical aspects (size, material, wheel type etc…). 

 

  1. The weight distribution between the front and rear wheels

The weight distribution of a wheelchair user refers to the proportion by which the weight is divided between the front and rear wheels. Generally, the greater the amount of weight on the front wheels, the greater friction will be, so it will require more effort to move it, although you will have greater stability.

A traditional 50% rear-wheel and front-wheel distribution (typical of standard wheelchairs) will guarantee stability, but will also require more effort to move - more appropriate if you are not going to self-propel yourself. An 80% distribution on the rear wheel and 20% on the front, will give you great efficiency, and will be more active.

 

  1. Centre of gravity adjustment

This can be the difference between a chair that can be self-propelled, and one that can’t.  It is important that the centre of gravity (COG) be set appropriately so that maximum efficiency can be gained, whilst maintaining some kind of stability.

Most active wheelchairs will have centre of gravity adjustment.  This could be achieved by moving the rear wheels forward/backward on the frame, or by moving the weight of the user forward/backward on the frame.  Both have the same effect.

Being able to move the centre of gravity of your wheelchair will allow the maximum adjustment of weight distribution. Generally, light aluminium chairs allow you to adjust it by moving the rear wheel position forwards, backwards, upwards and downwards. The further back and upwards you position the centre of gravity, the more weight you will give to the rear wheels achieving more mobility but less stability. It is advisable to adjust the centre of gravity of your wheelchair to meet your needs.

  1. Wheels

The rear wheels and tyres play a key role in the mobility of your wheelchair. Wheels provide the interface between your pushing force and the wheelchair therefore they need considerable attention when prescribing your wheelchair.  A strong wheel will flex less than a less strong wheel, therefore transferring more of your pushing force into forward movement.  You’ll get a slightly harder ride from a stiff wheel but this is unlikely to be noticeable.  Cheaper wheels will flex slightly during every push, absorbing some of your pushing energy resulting in a less efficient push.  They’re also more likely to suffer broken spokes or buckled rims.

Tyres cause a lot of debate, especially in NHS wheelchair services who are trying to save costs on repairs.  When choosing a tyre material, pneumatic ones are more comfortable and allow shock absorption, and provide less rolling resistance. The big benefit of solid tyres is the guarantee of never getting a puncture! The size of the wheel needs to be considered in combination with the height of the user, and the rear seat height of the wheelchair.  Taller users are more likely to gain benefit from a larger wheel (25 or 26”), especially if their rear seat to floor height is quite high. 

The distance between the casters and the rear wheels will greatly influence mobility and stability. The smaller the wheelbase, the better the wheelchair will turn and the more manoeuvrable it will be, however, as in all previous cases, greater mobility is usually synonymous with less stability. 

  1. Casters

Smaller casters will provide quicker, more efficient turning particularly on flat, hard surfaces.  This is why sports wheelchairs will always have very small casters. Outside, or on rough terrain, it is better that the front wheels are bigger because the contact surface with the ground is bigger and so the imperfections of the terrain can be absorbed.  Most active user wheelchairs will have 4 or 5” casters, a compromise between the very small and the very large.


Affiliations

HCPC
RCOT
Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors
NHS Wales
Posture & Mobility Group
Call us today on 02921 660346