Mobility – well, truthfully, difficulty in moving around, is something that many of us with multiple sclerosis and other disabilities must overcome.
And, for our benefit, there are numerous mobility aids on the market for us to choose. These vary from the basic walking stick, or cane, right up to the top of the range, road ready, electric power scooter.
But I want to talk about some options between those two extremes. Yes, I will restrict my comments to walkers, rollators, manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and electric scooters. You see, except for walkers, I have experience using all of them.
Standard walkers are stable, and have sturdy metal frames providing solid support. Upper body strength is required as the user lifts it off the ground every couple of steps.
Wheeled walkers have two wheels and two standard legs. This is easier to move as the user only tilts it forward to move.
Three-wheeled rollators are ideal for using where space is limited but they don’t have facilities like a seat.
Four wheeled rollators, with two ‘steering’ wheels at the front are easy to move and have seats to use if a rest is needed. They also have baskets or other carrying capabilities. Bakes are important, especially when going up or down slopes. They can also be locked on to hold the rollators still so the user can sit safely
Manual wheelchairs come in two basic types, one where the user has to depend on caregivers to push them about. The other is where users can move themselves using the large wheels that can be self-propelled.
Electric wheelchairs add to users’ independence but are usually heavy and need wheelchair adapted vehicles to move them about. But now there are folding electric wheelchairs that can easily fit in ordinary carsElectric scooters are available in different sizes. They also improve independence and the smallest ones can be broken down into a number of pieces to fit into cars.
I tried a self-propelled manual wheelchair from Drive Medical but found it was little use to me as I only have one good arm, so still had to rely on Lisa to push my chair. Not that she minds, but it does nothing for my independence.
Three different scooters have been tested. One was too lightweight in terms of power. One was powerful enough but just too large, and the third was just too much to break down to pack away and then reassemble to use again.
A power wheelchair came next. And that was great but it was so heavy to unload from and reload into our seven seat vehicle.
Rollators and wheelchairs
Next I bought a great foldable electric wheelchair from Better Products for Disabled People – and it is wonderful. It’s so much lighter than an ordinary chair but it is still too much to unload and reload a number of times in quick succession, or if it is only for a short period of time.
So, this week I took delivery of a brand new four-wheeled rollator from Performance Health (formerly Patterson Medical). My verdict? It’s fantastic and yesterday it enabled me to walk to my maximum limit of about 20 yards before I sat on the built-in seat for a few minutes. Then I got up to walk another 20 yards.
It’s easy to get out of and back into our car. Of course, for longer distances, I will continue to use my trusty wheelchair.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.