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Waiting for a new power chair

May 31, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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I have written here previously about my power chair and that it is seven years old and needs replaced. I met a power chair vendor last fall. He offered a loaner chair which I have never had before. My needs are specialized and I did not know how a loaner chair would work. The vendor brought the loaner and there was no way I could have used it. After that, the vendor opted out and my power chair was on hold.

A few months ago a new vendor met with me. I made it clear what I wanted in a new power chair. Though I will be getting a different brand of chair, I thought it might be similar to this one. When I was told a couple of weeks ago that they were bringing a new power chair I was surprised. My last two chairs had to be specially adapted because the armrests did not rise high enough. The armrests were padded to make them higher. I thought the new chair might be usable right from the factory.

When the technician brought my chair, I saw the joystick was farther away from the armrest. I told the technician that the joystick was higher and narrower than my present one. When I got into the chair and could not reach the joystick, I broke down in tears. It was the first time I have not been able to drive a new power chair when it was delivered.

The technician assured me they could adapt it. But since this is a different brand of chair, I wondered how closely he can match my present joystick set up. The chair was comfy, but a bit of a tight fit. I told him I wondered if I could gain 20 pounds and still use it. He assured me it was just because it is new. He said parts would be ordered to adapt the armrest and joystick and he would be back.

The technician brought a chair about two weeks later. Unfortunately, I was already lying down in bed so I could not try it out. The left armrest was raised by putting a metal rod under it. The armrests are cantilevered. They are not supported by metal rods like my present chair, and are adjusted differently. So, further modifications need to be made.

This vendor shared that some nursing home residents have a hard time transitioning to a chair made by a different manufacturer. I can certainly see why. In the past power chair design was kept to a certain formula. Now, chairs are sleek and are geared to a younger generation. The new chair does not have the same standard adjustment features as my present chair. I wonder how they will adapt it.

I am in waiting mode. I think the joystick should be able to be moved into my reach range. But I do not know how difficult that will be. I hope it happens soon because I am eager to try out my new wheels.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...