My Search for a New Wheelchair

My Quantum 600 powered wheelchair, which has been my legs for almost 8 years, is gradually falling to pieces. I have patched it up no end with DIY repairs, and attempted to keep it going for as long as possible. But the electrics are now failing and so the chair is becoming unreliable. Consequently, I have no option but to start the search for a replacement.

As the wheelchair-users out there will know, this is never a simple task! It is a BIG decision, not least because wheelchairs are so ridiculously expensive. More so than a new car!

Throughout my life, I have had no choice but to privately fund all my wheelchairs – both manual and powered – since those offered by wheelchair services are wholly inadequate for my needs (and I suspect, most people’s).

So before committing to a purchase, I need to be absolutely certain that the wheelchair I opt for will be the right one for me.

My new wheelchair must:

– Have rise and tilt
– Be as compact as possible for indoor use
– Be durable outdoors as I live rurally

I have an appointment with my local wheelchair services on Friday 16th February. So I’m hoping they will be able to offer some useful advice and guidance, along with a voucher towards the cost.

A representative from Motus Medical has already visited my home to demo two mid-wheel drive (MWD) chairs:

– The Quickie Salsa M2 Mini
– The Quickie Jive M

I found the Quickie Salsa M2 Mini to be an ideal size (the base is only 52cm wide, with a turning circle of 110cm). However, when tested outdoors over gravel and uneven terrain, it did not perform particularly well.

The Quickie Jive M was too large for the contours of my home (overall width 62-66cm). Furthermore, I felt that it didn’t compare well with my current Quantum 600 in terms of outdoor ability.

So that’s two tried, tested and crossed off the list!

I will continue to keep you updated, following Friday’s appointment.

Me in my current Quantum 600 powered wheelchair

“Wheelchair-bound”? | Acceptable Terminology

Yesterday I attended a hospital appointment, during which I had to answer dozens of questions about myself and my condition (Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy).

I explained that I use a powered wheelchair and am completely non-ambulant. (I often find that most people assume wheelchair users can walk a little, or at least weight-bear, which I cannot).

Going through my questionnaire, the nurse asked if I am “wheelchair-bound”. Having previously used this term to describe myself, I answered “yes”, without considering the semantics.

I am aware that many within the disabled community consider the term archaic and offensive. Now, I don’t want to get deep or political here – I completely understand and appreciate why people feel this way. After all, we are not literally bound to our wheelchairs.

The term, to some, implies restriction and limitation. On the contrary, wheelchairs are an aid to mobility and freedom, thereby enabling opportunity, exploration and the ability to integrate with society.

However, I must say that personally, I do not find the term ‘wheelchair-bound’ in any way offensive. I think the reason for this is that I don’t take the term literally.

Perhaps a poor comparison – but in the same way white people are not literally white and black people are not literally black, I am not literally wheelchair-bound. Yet we don’t consider the descriptors ‘black’ and ‘white’ to be offensive, inaccurate or socially unacceptable.

Similarly, there are those who may prefer to be referred to as differently-abled rather than disabled, disapproving of the latter classification.

Once again, I have no issue with being described as, or calling myself disabled. I am in fact disabled.

I’m not sure there is a particular point I am trying to make throughout this lengthy ramble, it is merely an observation. I simply got thinking about the issue of terminology following the comment made by the nurse, yesterday.

– What do you think about disability ‘labels’ such as ‘wheelchair-bound’, ‘disabled’ and ‘differently-abled’?

– Do you think certain terms are outdated and incorrect? If so, why?

– And how would you have responded to the nurse who asked, “are you wheelchair-bound”?