• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

Why I hate buying a new wheelchair

Buying a wheelchair - agony of choice?

„Purchasing a wheelchair is not like buying a car or bicycle. Any wheelchair rider will tell you: Rarely do you get to see the chair beforehand, let alone take it for a test drive. You may get a demonstration, but chances are the demo wheelchair won’t be the right size or meet your other particular requirements. Most wheelchairs, at least ones for people such as me, are custom-built.” – Ben Mattlin

The above quote is taken from an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, where the author, Ben Mattlin, describes his challenges of buying a new wheelchair. He points out that “freedom of choice” is in fact not always freedom of choice but that wheelchair users often have their wheelchairs chosen for them - by physical therapists and sales reps.

The article resonated with a conversation I had a while back with a girl in a wheelchair I met while traveling and made me realize how little I know about the challenges involved in finding the right wheelchair, assistive devices etc.

When my old laptop broke down, I spent weeks researching, reading and watching product reviews, and asking my tech-savvy friends for advice before finally making a decision – and I am still not entirely sure whether I made the right choice. Did I really need the additional memory space? Would it have been better to go for a slightly larger screen? If I had waited for another couple of weeks, would I have gotten a better deal?

Of course I am well aware that buying a new laptop cannot be compared to buying a new wheelchair and would thus be very curious to know how the wheelchair users of our Community decide on a wheelchair. How do you find out what works for you and what doesn’t? Where do you get information from? How do you ultimately make a decision on what to buy?

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