To walk no further than 10 to 15 yards, the way multiple sclerosis affects me means that a walking stick or a cane is required. At the end of that, I need to sit and take a break. And even that short distance cannot be repeated over and over again.
So, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that a wheelchair is required if I need to move any greater distance than those few yards. But choosing the right wheelchair is not as easy as it might first appear as the choice is enormous.
The choice is extremely personal as the chair must suit your own individual needs.
In my case, it started off with a self-propelled manual chair, the type with the large rear wheels that are designed to be pushed by the wheelchair user. However, there was a problem that really should have anticipated. Multiple sclerosis has taken away most of the strength and dexterity of the left side of my body and so using both hands to propel the wheelchair is impossible. Going around in left hand circles? No problem there. Going straight or turning right? Forget it.
So a manual chair, for me, means the presence of a carer – a role lovingly performed by my wife, Lisa, with no complaints. But independence? Forget it.
An electric wheelchair was suggested and freedom of movement and independence was restored. Well, restored up to a point.
You see, using it from home is no problem but if you want to use it elsewhere the electric chair has to be loaded into a car and unloaded at the other end and visa versa for the return trip. And, because of its size, it won’t fit in a normal car. I have a seven-seater MPV (or minivan) to carry mine.
Now, though, lightweight folding electric chairs have started to become more widely known and are a fraction of the weight of traditional models, can be folded in seconds with batteries still on board, and simply lifted in and out of a standard car.
They are just fantastic and I am looking forward to being able to get one.
From checking out the market, I’d say that Better Products for Disabled People (BPDP) is offering one of the best deals at the moment. It has two chairs to choose between and many different colours. The prices are reasonable, with the smaller one at £1758.50 [GBP] (seat width 400mm, weight 25kg and capacity 120kg) and the larger one at £1938.51 (seat 480mm, weight 27kg and capacity 180kg) – and that includes free delivery anywhere in the world.