What to expect from a bespoke wheelchair appointment
At Dorset Orthopaedic we offer two models of lightweight wheelchairs from Ottobock for bespoke ordering. This time we’ll focus on our most popular; the Avantgarde 4. It boasts being lightweight, customisable, crash tested and on it’s fourth generation, it’s had many developments based on feedback from users.
When you order a lightweight wheelchair from Dorset Orthopaedic we have the full support of the Ottobock seating specialists behind us. There are some strict protocols to go through, of taking measurements and choosing any adaptations. The appointment usually takes an hour and once funding is approved take between 6-8 weeks to be made. You’ll then come back into clinic to have your chair set up perfectly for you and all the elements demonstrated before going home.
So let’s get to it:
- Choosing your frame: We have an option of fixed leg supports or swing away leg supports than can also be removed. We also choose whether you want any offset in the frame, this allows the leg sections to curve away from your knees by 2cm, giving the legs more space. This can be particularly useful if you are an above knee amputee and will be wearing your prosthesis in the chair, as the sockets add a little extra bulk to the thigh.
- Leg supports: They can come in one single panel, two separate foot plates, in a colour to match your chair or elevating
- Measurements: We take measurements for seat width, anterior height, posterior height, back support height and seat depth, this then gives us some guidelines as to which adaptations will work for your size of chair. Those dimensions will then make up the custom build of your chair.
- Frame accessories: In this section we can select tip assists, which make it easier for anyone pushing you to get up curbs. Anti-tippers to stop you flipping over backwards. And crutch holders to keep your walking aids out the way while wheeling.
- Caster wheels: The little wheels at the front of the chair are then selected for both function and looks, the bigger the wheel the smoother the ride but the smaller the wheel the more manoeuvrable it is, so we find a balance based on your needs.
- Wheels: We select the drive wheel size based on your chairs dimensions, the 24’’ is the most popular. We also then select where the wheel will be positioned, further back is ‘less tippy’ than further forward. Luckily if you ever feel like you want to change the rear wheel position as you get more confident in your chair then this is fully adjustable. You also get to select your tyre type, type of rim and hand rims. The handrims vary from very straight forward tubing to ergonomically shaped and rubber coated.
- Wheel locks: There are a few different kinds, ones with levers, scissor locks and ones that you can operate both from one side. Choosing a lock will be based on your grip strength, dexterity and whether it needs to be accessible for anyone pushing you to operate too.
- Back support: We can vary height of the back support and add a lumbar curve if needed. You also have options for upholstery, some more breathable, some wipeable. We can also make it wider at the shoulder for those who are wider at the top than the waist.
- Push handles: Some people opt to not have any at all. Some go for fold down ones. Telescopic handles are great if you have different heights of people pushing you. You can also choose between short and long handles.
- Side panels: There are options from straight to curved over the wheel, splash guards and with our without arm supports. Some of the arm supports are height adjustable and some are flip back to make transferring easier.
- Seat upholstery: You can have added storage compartments, make it adjustable or go ultralight. There are a wide variety of cushions to choose from, some offer temperature control, come are great for minimising the risk of pressure sores and some are super light.
- Colour: This is always my favourite part!! Choosing your colour scheme. We have samples of all the available colours, from matte, to shiny to even sparkly.
All the wheelchairs come with a two year warranty, outside of those two years there are Ottobock dealers all over the UK if you ever need the chair checking or parts changed.
We hope that gives you an insight into what to expect from a wheelchair appointment. We recommend that all amputees have a wheelchair no matter how active they are on their prosthesis as there will always be the odd occasion where you wish to be out of the socket and still mobile. You can read how one of our brand ambassadors Hannah Moore, World Para-triathlete Champion uses hers.