When you or a loved one requires a wheelchair to support mobility and posture, having an assessment done is crucial. Through the questions, measurements, and observations your physical therapist makes, they gather enough information to provide the most suitable wheelchair that meets your needs and the desired comfort and support. Your therapist should be one with experience in the relevant field for a reliable wheelchair recommendation.

At Suarez Physical therapy, we are determined to provide the best care.experience support for patients requiring physical therapy services. Moreover, we are keen on extending support towards selecting and acquiring other equipment used to support our patient’s mobility and comfort, including wheelchairs. Our reputable team will offer advice on selecting an ideal wheelchair if you are seeking help in Las Vegas, NV.

Understanding Wheelchair Assessments

After suffering from an injury, severe medical condition, or genetically induced conditions, you may require a wheelchair for mobility. It is useful for people whose legs or spines require additional support against body weight. Often, you may find it difficult to walk or stand for long, hence the need for a wheelchair.

After seeing a physical therapist, he/she will recommend wheelchair use in appropriate cases to help improve your quality of life and ability to perform your daily routines. However, wheelchairs are not one-size-fits-all, so making the assessment is necessary. Even when shopping for wheelchairs on display, the personnel in the department should organize an assessment session before you can make a full purchase.

When organizing the assessment session, our goal is to acquire sufficient information to guide us in providing the best wheelchair for you. Without these details, general assumptions may be used to select a wheelchair that could end up being uncomfortable and detrimental to your wellbeing in the long term. Thus, making assessments allows us to provide personalized findings and wheelchair selections for each person.

Moreover, we can detect several problems with previous wheelchair use from the details you provide. This way, we can promote prolonged positive experiences for each patient that may also help improve other aspects of life. For example, having a suitable wheelchair will help you move with ease, giving you the independence you may long for. Eventually, your mental health will also flourish from the benefits you receive.

Factors to Consider When Conducting Wheelchair Assessments

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health provides several guidelines that our specialists adhere to when making wheelchair assessments. These directives are important because they help us factor in various aspects of a patient's life for comprehensive coverage of the information. By following the recommended checklist in conducting an assessment, you can be confident that the wheelchair you receive will have all the necessary features required to uphold your wellbeing.

Although the checklist involves a lot, the following are the main factors to consider:

The Patient's Physical Condition

Considering a patient's physical condition is a vital factor when making assessments. This element guides on the general design expected to meet his/her needs. Normally, patients exhibit different postures, arm and leg placements depending on the condition they suffer from. Thus, we need to identify your natural posture to help us recommend a wheelchair.

This assessment may also require us to conduct minimally invasive physical examinations, including asking you to sit up straight if possible and show your posture at rest. Our observations are then used as the primary details to inform the final decision on the appropriate wheelchair.

Some may also prefer taking photographs of your posture for accurate references during the wheelchair selection. We can also use these photographs to explain why we settled for a specific type compared to others, especially if you are interested in learning about the technicalities.

We also use these details as a source of reference in the future in case of wheelchair replacements. Nevertheless, we understand that some patients may improve their postures as they continue recovering, so we are happy to conduct additional assessments later. The procedures we undertake when conducting a physical assessment are further discussed below.

The Nature of Your Medical Diagnosis

Additionally, we are keen on discussing your medical diagnosis, as it provides insight into the ideal wheelchair to meet your needs. Numerous conditions could require patients to use wheelchairs for support, each creating characteristics for the patient's physical wellbeing.

Learning about your medical diagnosis also allows us to strategize on other factors surrounding your wheelchair use. For example, a patient who had half-body paralysis after a serious accident may spend a significant amount of his/her day in a wheelchair. Hence, the sitting area should be measured and designed to provide the highest comfort level for the patient's well-being.

On the other hand, some patients may only require wheelchair support for a specific period, especially if they are recovering from the condition. For example, a patient with a high-impact leg fracture may only need the wheelchair for several weeks or months before he/she progresses to other recovery treatment sessions. Eventually, the patient will use crutches and a cane for support as the leg heals progressively.

Regardless of the condition you face, comfort should always be a priority. Therefore, our goal is to determine whether your reliance on wheelchair support will change over time or if you need it for a longer duration. This way, we can guide you accordingly to accommodate all your needs to help you achieve comfortable wheelchair use.

The Environment you Live In

Thirdly, the environment you live in is also key in informing our recommendations for you. This is because some living environments can limit your mobility in the wheelchair, especially if space is limited. For example, if you live in a small apartment with few rooms, we will use these details to find a compact wheelchair that provides easy and comfortable access.

Additionally, living in houses or building complexes that lack wheelchair-accessible amenities can be challenging. We understand the difficulty in moving to a new location without prior planning. Hence, we do our best to guide you in finding the best wheelchair and access amenities in this situation.

Your Daily Routine and Lifestyle

What you do every day should be a contributing factor towards assessment to enable us to provide reliable contributions for you. Some patients are more active than others, depending on their stages of life and their career paths. Subsequently, we may inquire about your day-to-day routines to learn more about your lifestyle. We also appreciate your direct input about the most important activities because you deserve to live a fulfilling life.

For example, your career path may be in the sports sector, meaning that you play games competitively in a wheelchair. Special designs are available for athletes in different fields, including basketball and athletics for persons with different abilities. Providing this information will be highly beneficial for your career progress. This then leads to more opportunities if equipped with the ideal wheelchair for your sports use.

The Technology Available for Wheelchair Locomotion

Technological developments are also common in most sectors today, especially in mechanical fields that include wheelchair designs. As a result, you have access to better and more efficient locomotion designs that require minimal effort to maneuver. This is a significant improvement from previous designs that needed patients to run the wheels using their palms. The previous designs were limiting and detrimental to your well-being, especially if you lacked protective wear.

Thus, we are happy to assess your medical and physical condition and recommend a mechanized / power wheelchair, if appropriate. The option would improve your lifestyle significantly by making movements easier and giving you more independence. Further, you can worry less about wearing out your arms and palms as you move, thanks to the semi-automatic designs available. However, you should note that these designs are only ideal for specific conditions, and traditional wheelchairs are still highly effective.

The Family Setting

Finally, we consider your family setting when assessing because having extra support is important. For example, patients with loved ones to help you move and drive around have more wheelchair options. They include traditional and mechanized designs, depending on your preferences. This is because you will have someone to help you move regardless of the type of wheelchair selected.

Conversely, we can recommend mechanized / power designs for easier mobility to patients without support from loved ones. As mentioned, the improved design will help you attain more independence and well-being regardless of your setting.

Steps Taken When Conducting Wheelchair Assessments

It is also important to understand the steps we take when making these inquiries. We focus on two primary goals to guide our assessment and to help us obtain useful details. The first goal is to determine the reason for your wheelchair requirement, primarily from the diagnosis you receive. As discussed above, your diagnosis is a key component in determining whether you will be dependent on wheelchair support for a short or long duration.

By achieving this goal, we will have observed and inquired about your physical health. Moreover, we learn about your ability to perform specific tasks without assistance. Among the primary considerations is your safety and wellbeing when using the wheelchair. Therefore, our procedural assessment should also include inquiries on your wheelchair management skills. Additional considerations include whether loved ones are available to help you with wheelchair mobility.

Secondly, we are interested in reviewing your medical history, particularly regarding any past equipment you used for mobility support. The investigation also includes how the previous treatments assisted you and the positive outcomes you experienced if any. These details enable us to learn what to avoid for the benefit of reliable services. For example, if your back is sensitive and should not be exposed to high impact, we consider wheelchairs with a comfortable backrest for maximum comfort.

Thus, guided by these two goals, the assessment process is as follows:

Conducting the Initial Assessment Interview

At this stage, we make a crucial move to engage you in an oral interview to allow for data collection. Our team will ask as many questions as possible to cover the numerous requirements we need to meet during the assessment. Therefore, you can expect a well-trained and experienced team to conduct the exercise. We ensure that they understand the importance of capturing your details related to as many fields as possible.

Since we intend to understand your routine, lifestyle, and environment, we recommend that your family members be present during the assessment. Their input can be beneficial towards directing you on the best wheelchair for your needs. We appreciate that they observe your daily activities and mobility issues if any. Moreover, your loved ones are responsible for your wellbeing in most cases, so they need to contribute towards finding a proper wheelchair.

Conducting the Physical Assessment

Afterward, we will have marked several wheelchair designs that could be your fit. Therefore, we will make physical assessments that ensure you are compatible with the wheelchair delivered to you.

The physical assessment aims at gathering information on your measurements. Based on this, you can expect our team of experts to engage you in physical measurements.

 We aim at acquiring dimensions for your full body to promote comfort as you use the wheelchair. Several tools are used in the process because they help attain accuracy. For example, you can expect the team to use a metal tape measure to measure the length of your arms and legs. Calipers are also used to increase accuracy, especially when making shorter measurements. 

You can expect the following measurements during a physical assessment:

  • Wheelchair seat depth and width to ensure that your hips are comfortable after sitting for long.
  • The wheelchair armrest length to help you attain good posture.
  • The height on the backrest compared to your back for full support.
  • The adjustable height on the footrest compared to your height.

Assessment of Your Wheelchair Management Skills

Finally, we also need to assess whether you are conversant with using a wheelchair and maintaining it for longer usage. You need not have prior experience using a wheelchair, especially if you are newly diagnosed with a condition. Our physical therapist will provide several training sessions on how to live while using a wheelchair. The guidance should also extend to your family and loved ones because they are your primary support during emergencies. Thus, their presence is highly recommended for a comprehensive assessment and training.

You Are Involved In The Decision Making Process

A comprehensive assessment should always have the user in mind. Guided by the collected information, we consider elements to improve your stability, independence, and overall comfort when using the wheelchair. Some relevant factors to consider include:

Your Preferred Propulsion System

Typically, most patients prefer using both hands to propel the wheelchair if they desire independence from third-party assistance. Alternatively, some patients have one hand stronger than the other, so they would prefer using a single arm for propulsion. We, therefore, have to establish these crucial details before recommending a wheelchair, to help you acquire the best fit.

Your Posture and Pressure Points

Different wheelchair users also have varying sitting postures, leading to a wide range of pressure points. Hence, we will conduct physical examinations on any reported pressure points to identify their posture-related causes. Normally, we look for sores and bruises around the buttocks and lower back, as the sitting weight is more likely to affect these body parts. We are also determined to provide a wheelchair recommendation, such as a tilt-n-space option, that does not strain or change your posture drastically, to prevent back pains and pressure sores, among other complications.

Type of Preferred Wheelchair Configuration

You also have the liberty to select a type of wheelchair that fits your lifestyle, skill level, and frequency of movement outside your home. During the wheelchair assessment, we will consider factors like whether the wheelchair is foldable. Additional elements include whether it provides a wheel turn option on multiple axes and if you can lock the wheels when needed.

Where to Conduct Wheelchair Assessments

Since wheelchair assessment may involve physical examinations, as well as the dispensation of personal details, it should occur in a private and sanitary area, including:

  • Medical clinic
  • Physical therapy center
  • At home

Our physical therapy team could make the necessary arrangements to conduct your assessment at one of our physical therapy locations that guarantees privacy, and clear communication by avoiding distractions. We emphasize upholding a private assessment session because we may need to check for sores or bruises in pressure points. The main pressure areas include your lower back, thighs, and buttocks. Hence, conducting the checks in a restricted area will create a more comfortable experience for you.

Contact a Physical Therapy Clinic Near Me

Finding a suitable wheelchair for you or your loved one will improve the quality of life and general well-being. Working with a reliable physical therapist when conducting wheelchair assessment is pivotal towards finding the best wheelchair for your needs. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we dedicate our services and expertise to support you through the assessment and find a wheelchair that allows you to be independent and comfortable within your home and community. Call us today at 702-368-6778 if you seek physical therapy treatment in Las Vegas, NV.