Staying or moving in a stationary position for long periods can bring on a number of health related problems, such as Carpal Tunnel, ulcer problems, and muscle weakness. Having a wheelchair that allows the body frequent movement from the sitting position can help avoid some of these issues.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
We all use our hands all day long, be it for typing, cooking, cleaning, or just turning the television on or off. For wheelchair users, this is multiplied several times further because of the constant need to get in and out of the chair and then propel the wheels, often over long distances. Carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t just a computer issue. You might be surprised to know that it can be a major problem for wheelchair users, brought on by propelling a wheelchair all day long with repetitive motions. Half of wheelchair users get this injury that often has to be dealt with through surgery. This syndrome often begins with pain or tingling in the hands, moving up the arms. Eventually arms and hands are so painful that it becomes impossible to use them as normal.
Most of you will have heard of the pressure ulcers that often affect seniors when they spend a long time lying in bed without moving. Wheelchair users can also suffer from pressure ulcers when they are in a chair for long periods. Pressure ulcers are caused by the unvarying pressure and friction of bed sheets and various materials in chairs. The ulcers develop in bony areas caused by the weight of the body on pressure points. These areas are difficult to heal with the cycle of further weight on the same pressure points. This makes the person unwilling to move because of the pain. Poor circulation also causes ulcers to appear. Regrettably, some medicines to help arthritis can also increase the chance of ulcers.
Wheelchair users need to keep as fit as possible by being active or even playing sports to maintain body health. Without exercise other health problems begin to occur, brought on by an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. It’s a vicious cycle. Your muscles get weaker because of lack of exercise, and this includes the heart which needs to pump blood to your muscles. If your heart is weaker, you will find it harder to exercise. With age also comes the possibility for osteoporosis which can cause bones to break easier, resulting in further lack of mobility. Excess weight can add further strain to the heart and muscles. A healthy diet and load bearing activities are the best ways to prevent these problems. A DEXA scan (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) can see how load bearing activities have affected your bone strength.
Benefits of a Positionable Power Wheelchair
Depending on the funds available through savings or insurance, a powered wheelchair brings several advantages over a self powered chair to mitigate some of the health issues. While arm exercise will be reduced, which needs to be balanced by increasing other exercises, general health can be a major beneficiary, particularly for seniors who will lose arm power as age increases.
Some powered wheelchairs, such as the Redman Power Chair, allow movements that significantly aid good health. Having the chair allows you to move to a standing position, and the reverse, to a horizontal position (for example in a reclining chair), which can prove an advantage for many common day house and work responsibilities.
Improved breathing due to the position of the body and a significant reduction of pressure sores improves overall health and also both bowel and bladder functions. Blood flow and the functioning of the heart are also improved by such a chair. So despite these major health issues the right wheelchair choice can have a positive impact on your quality of life and that has to be a target for any wheelchair user.