Ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs, lightweight, heavy-duty and standard wheelchairs are considered as a medical necessity when:
- An individual lacks physical mobility to complete activities of daily living in the home setting, and
- An individual is living in such an environment that is suitable to use a manual wheelchair, and
- An individual is capable and willing to operate the wheelchair safely or a caretaker is appointed and trained for operating the manual wheelchair, and
- Other assistive devices like walkers, crutches are unsafe to meet the purpose of functional mobility safely and efficiently.
Different kinds of manual wheelchairs are available in the online market. Depending upon the functional and physical assessment and body size of an individual, a healthcare professional recommends the following kinds of wheelchairs:
- Standard wheelchairs are ideal to use when walkers and cranes are not meeting mobility needs sufficiently;
- Lightweight and ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs are recommended if an individual is not capable to self-propel the standard wheelchair;
- Opt for heavy-duty wheelchairs when standard wheelchairs are unable to accommodate the body size of an individual
In the medical world, manual wheelchairs are HCPCS coded, which are as follows:
- K0001: Standard manual wheelchair
- K0002: Standard hemi-height manual wheelchair
- K0003: Lightweight manual wheelchair
- K0004: High-strength lightweight manual wheelchair
- K0005: Ultra lightweight manual wheelchair
- K0006: Heavy-duty manual wheelchair
- K0007: Extra heavy-duty manual wheelchair
Over the years, significant advancements have been made with regard to material used in the manufacturing of the wheelchair. The wheelchairs falling in the HCPCS code (K0001 to K0003) have very little scope of customization. But when it comes to ultra lightweight wheelchairs, the scope of comfort and customization is noteworthy.
Ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs with HCPCS code K0005 are indeed light in weight. Thanks to manufacturers for using top-grade and lightweight materials like Titanium and aluminum and the best engineering designs and practices. Many of these wheelchairs weigh less than even 20 lbs though the standard criterion was 30 lbs or less. These wheelchairs are well-equipped with advanced features and recommended to use for full-time wheelchair users.
Even many healthcare centers admired ultra lightweight wheelchair configurations for optimal adjustment features like axle configuration, seat and back angles, wheel camber, etc. For physical therapists, these wheelchairs act like a blessing in disguise especially when they deal with such patients, who have seating and mobility issues.
How Ultra lightweight Wheelchairs help Individuals?
Healthcare professionals recommend ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs to those end users who are suffering from medical issues like upper extremity weakness, compromised cardiopulmonary system, decreased endurance of propulsion, orthopedic deformities, etc. These chairs offer a wide range of adjustability which makes them easier to propel and safe to use.
As compared to other lower-coded wheelchairs, ultra lightweight versions of manual wheelchairs differ on following grounds:
The rear-axle adjustability plate allows for a horizontal shift, vertical shift, inward or outward adjustments of the chairs providing an incredible benefit when implemented correctly. These kinds of adjustments are possible in K0004 coded chairs but after making changes in the rear wheels and the casters that eventually affect the chair’s ability to roll efficiently. In K0005 chairs, all the changes are possible without making any change in the roll of wheelchairs.
This is one of the most important factors of the growing popularity of ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs. Ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs weigh less than 30 lbs whereas K0004 codes ones weight less than 35 lbs. However, it is important to understand that a user can create extra weight on the chair by adding a cushion in the back. This eventually increases the weight of the chair by 10 lbs and affects a person’s propulsion abilities. So, the point to uncover is if you start with K0004 coded chairs and add extra weight on them, propulsion efficiency of end-user decreases leading to more fatigue and less comfort
Seat-to-back angel adjustments along with back height adjustments change the biomechanics of the upper body in such a manner that the user easily able to propel the chair safely. Similarly, another feature is the availability of the suspension system does not cause any change to the tonal reflexes and thereby minimizes the chances of fatigue, pain and discomfort in the sitting postures.
So, it is advisable to opt for ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs if a person has reduced mobility and has less upper body strength. At the same time, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a clinic team in detail about your medical condition so that they can recommend the best code of wheelchair for improving your quality of life.
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