There are many reasons why people use a wheelchair. Some use a wheelchair in order to continually function every day after suffering from an injury while others use it long-term so they can cope from paralysis or other illnesses which affects their muscles. Undeniably, a wheelchair can improve the quality of a person’s life in more ways than one. Aside from helping a person go from one place to another, a wheelchair can also be of great help for someone who likes to travel but has issues with mobility. This person will have an opportunity to visit new places and enjoy tourist spots – things which can go a long way especially for someone who’s recovering from an injury, illness or disease.
Wheelchair 101: What’s the Technology Behind Automatic Wheelchairs?
Today, wheelchairs don’t only come in one model; wheelchairs can be purchased in different varieties. And if you’re looking for a wheelchair which provides comfort, can become mobility aids but that doesn’t demand too much work and effort from the user, consider using automatic wheelchairs. Regardless if the user is planning to use one for a short period or long-term, automatic wheelchairs can be excellent options. The technology behind an automatic wheelchair works this way:
- The motor of an automatic wheelchair is usually located under the seat. This platform is encased in a plastic shell which supports the motor and its power source, which is a battery array. Collectively, these things are called the wheelchair’s “power pack.” This power pack is connected to the wheelchair’s motor and control panel through a wiring system. This is the reason why users should be able to familiarize the control panel of an automatic wheelchair so they can fully maximize its use.
- The control panel of an automatic wheelchair is located on one side of the armrest. This allows the user to control the functions of the wheelchair. The user can choose which seating position he will use (elevated or titled) or what speed he’ll have while using the wheelchair. Additionally, a user can also control the directional movement of the wheelchair (where it goes, the angle it turns) with the aid of a joystick and system diagnostics.
- Unlike conventional models, automatic wheelchairs are fixed on a single plane. Users can also opt to purchase an automatic wheelchair which has an additional pair of wheels for additional guidance and support. These extra wheels can be found at the front and back of the wheelchair. These wheels allow users to travel on uneven surfaces without compromising their safety and comfort.
- Automatic wheelchairs also come in a lot of models. You can purchase one which is designed to cope with terrains, one with large tracked wheels and even ones which have high-torque motors. All of these features make it easy for any wheelchair user to travel anywhere with ease!
Wheelchair 101: How Can You Travel While in a Wheelchair?
Many wheelchair users are hesitant to travel. Generally, they have this notion that traveling with a wheelchair isn’t only stressful but can also be very inconvenient especially if they’re traveling in a group. But with automatic wheelchairs, this mindset can soon change. With the right kind of wheelchair and several techniques along the way, wheelchair users can now travel comfortably without worrying about anything. Here’s how they can do it:
1. Planning preparations: If you’re traveling with a wheelchair for the first time, inquire from different airlines about their ticket prices and policies for travelers who are using automatic wheelchairs. You should also inquire about the allowable weight of the wheelchair for travel. As much as possible, you should fly with an airline with the best ticket prices without compromising the comfort of wheelchair users.
Aside from these, also ask about the accessibility of the restrooms on the plane. You don’t want to be seated in the back-end of the plane when the restroom is on the opposite side. This can be very inconvenient not only for you but for other passengers as well.
2. Ticket reservations: Once you already chose an airline for your next travel, inform your agent that you’re actually traveling with an automatic wheelchair. This information can help the airline company prepare for your arrival. Airline employees can assist you when you get to the airport, check the condition of your wheelchair as often as needed and guide you once you’re inside the plane. They might even provide a folding wheelchair in order to help you get through narrow airplane aisles with ease.
- Informing your agent ahead of time that you’re traveling in an automatic wheelchair will also help the airline account the total weight limit of the plane. If you arrive at the airport without informing the airline employees that you’ll be transporting an automatic wheelchair with you, they might refuse the automatic wheelchair on the grounds as this might cause the plane to go beyond its specified weight limit. This can cause a delay in your travel.
- If you want to be comfortable during your travel, consider purchasing a first class ticket. A first-class ticket might cost more than an economy ticket, but the former is an excellent investment. The extra space you’ll get from first class accommodation can make your trip more enjoyable.
3. Preventing damage: An automatic wheelchair doesn’t come cheap; most often than not, this comes with an expensive price tag. When you’re traveling, take the time to disassemble or assemble several parts of your wheelchair for easier transportation. It’s important that you know what these parts are days before your flight. When you know what to remove and not to remove, you’ll be saving a lot of time in accomplishing the task.
- If you’re planning to have baggage handlers carry your automatic wheelchair, politely tell them how important your wheelchair is and how this is used as your legs. You can also provide specific instructions on how they can properly take care of your wheelchair if necessary.
- If you want to be extra careful during your travel, take a picture of your wheelchair before boarding the plane. This can be your proof of your wheelchair’s pre-flight condition – something which can be used if your wheelchair is damaged because of the airline’s negligence.
4. Assistance at layovers: Traveling to a long distance location might be fun but transferring from one plane to another can become stressful especially if you’re doing it with an automatic wheelchair. You won’t only have to think about how you can get from one gate to another, but you’ll also have to consider the amount of traffic you’ll have to pass through at the airport. Arranging with an airline to assist you at any layovers can save you from these situations. There are airline employees who can offer help, so you get around airports.
5. Transportation at the destination: Your travel doesn’t only include riding the plane; it also includes your transport from the airport to your destination. To reduce stress and money, use public transportation once you arrive at the destination. You can also choose to ride a taxi and arrange your pick-up ahead of time. This option is convenient since you’ll be able to scout for a taxi company which is equipped for wheelchair users like you.
Small Changes Can Go a Long Way
Using a wheelchair, regardless if it’s temporary or permanent, can require drastic adjustments to a person’s life. For starters, a wheelchair user should pay attention to the space around him to determine if the wheelchair can actually fit. He’ll also have to limit his activities especially if these involve sports. Living a life with a wheelchair might be tough, but there are a lot of ways on how users can alleviate the situation. They can opt to travel anywhere they want or use an automatic wheelchair or do both of these. These small changes can help users live a more fulfilling life, even with a wheelchair!