What to Consider When Renting a Wheelchair – Health-Planing (2023)

At some point, you may need to rent a wheelchair for a day or for several days. ​Many different models, including power chairs and scooters, are available. Renting a wheelchair takes some advance planning, and it may be more of a challenge when you are traveling out of town. Knowing more about your options and the rental process can help.

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Types of Wheelchairs

There are a number of types of wheelchairs that you can rent. The biggest factor that differentiates one from another is whether or not it is motorized.

Deciding whether to use a motorized vs. a non-motorized wheelchair is a decision you need to discuss with your healthcare provider or physical therapist. If you need a wheelchair rental at home for a period of time, your medical team may want you to use one that requires you to use as much of your own muscle power as possible so that you will not develop muscle atrophy, which is thinning of the muscles that result from lack of use. This may especially be the case if you are recovering from an injury or surgery and your condition is expected to improve.

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Some wheelchairs are equipped with stronger back support, which helps with problems such as scoliosis. You may need such a wheelchair if you have weakness in your back muscles.

If you have a medical condition characterized by episodic weakness, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), your medical team will tailor your wheelchair recommendation each time you have a severe episode —and the decision about which type of wheelchair you should use will depend on how much motor weakness you are experiencing.

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Where to Find a Wheelchair Rental

If you are renting a wheelchair because you or your loved one has a medical condition, you can ask your health insurance provider for recommendations about which vendors to use. Often, health insurance providers have a contract with a supplier and may only pay for wheelchair rentals from their preferred vendors.

If you are being discharged from the hospital, your hospital case manager can help direct you to a vendor that will be approved by your health insurance plan, and may even be able to arrange for you to have a wheelchair when you leave the hospital.

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If you do not have insurance or a wheelchair is not covered by your plan, look into renting a wheelchair from a local medical supply or drugstore.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Rentals

You may need a rental for a day, a week, or a longer period of time. Agreements often vary from vendor to vendor, but there are some differences between long-term and short-term rentals:

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  • Cost: Long-term rentals may be cheaper to rent per day than short-term rentals. Even if your insurance is covering the cost of your wheelchair rental, there may be a limitation in your coverage or you may be required to pay a percentage of the cost.
  • Contracts: Long-term rentals usually require the renter to sign a contract. A day-long rental usually doesn’t require a contract, but might require a security deposit in addition to the rental fee.
  • Selection: There is usually a wider variety of options to choose from when getting a long-term wheelchair rental than a short-term one. In addition, a place that offers long-term rentals is more likely to have other equipment available, like ramps or power lifts, if needed.

Before You Rent

Before you take your wheelchair rental, take some time to evaluate the features. There are a few things you should check before you take your rental:

  • Damage: Inspect the wheelchair for any problems or damage. Report any issues to the vendor immediately or else you risk losing your security deposit due to someone else’s damage.
  • Comfort and function: If possible, take the wheelchair out for a test drive. If it runs on batteries, make sure they’re fully charged. You don’t want to get all the way to your destination only to find out the battery is dead or the seat is uncomfortable.
  • Convenience: You might want a wheelchair that is collapsible or easily taken apart for transportation.
  • Exchangeability: You might also want to ask the vendor if they will allow you to exchange your rental for a different model without an additional charge. Many vendors will offer to drop off a different model if the one you chose doesn’t suit you.

Renting vs. Buying

There can be some benefits to renting a wheelchair, rather than owning one. But, you may want to consider some of the pros and cons of renting vs. buying.

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  • Cost: Before you rent a wheelchair, power chair, or scooter, be aware of the total cost and security deposit. In many cases, it’s less expensive to buy a wheelchair instead of renting one. Sometimes the cost of a rental for a week or more is the same as the wheelchair’s price tag.
  • Familiarity: It can take some time to adjust to using a new wheelchair. Once you have, you may want to keep that same one for the duration.
  • Adaptability: If you have a medical condition that may change, eventually requiring you to use a different type of wheelchair, you may be better off renting, especially for occasional use. You might need a different type of wheelchair next time.

Finding a Wheelchair Rental When You Travel

When you travel, you can use resources, such as airports, travel agents, and hotels, to help you arrange for a wheelchair. However, if you are not flying to your destination and if you are staying with friends or family, you may have to spend more time looking for local resources and making arrangements yourself.

  • Air travel: Often, when traveling in an airport, you can rent or reserve a wheelchair by arranging in advance. You can call the airport guest services, or you may be able to reserve one through your airline. You can usually also ask for an escort to help you get around. There may be a fee, but often these services are available at minimal or no cost to people who have verification of a disability.
  • Hotel: if you are staying at a hotel, resort, spa, or vacation rental home, you may be able to have a wheelchair waiting for you when you check in if you ask in advance.
  • Travel agent: A travel agent can arrange to have your wheelchair or mobility aid waiting at your destination when you arrive. Your travel agent may be able to find a wider variety of choices than what would be available at the hotel or airport.
  • Tourist destination: Many tourist destinations, such as museums and amusement parks, have wheelchairs available for guests to use during the visit. You can call customer service in advance to request a rental.
  • Making arrangements yourself: If you’re making travel arrangements for yourself, check nearby businesses that offer wheelchair and mobility aid rentals. You may be able to find a wheelchair at a national retailer that has a pharmacy, a national supplier, a wheelchair rental agency, a company that rents scooters, a bike or golf cart rental shop, or a nearby assisted living facility. Be sure that you have a wheelchair access vehicle if you are renting a wheelchair when you are out of town.


What are considerations for wheelchair users? ›

When choosing a wheelchair, take into consideration the different seating and support components such as the headrest, seat, cushioning, leg rests, footplates and armrests. These are generally customised to fit your body and lifestyle so your comfort is maximised.

How do you take care of a wheelchair bound person? ›

4 Top Care Tips for a Loved One in a Wheelchair
  1. Prioritize Comfort. Choose clothing your loved one can wear comfortably while sitting in a wheelchair. ...
  2. Invest in the Best Support. Maintaining good posture prevents problems with circulation. ...
  3. Enable Independence. ...
  4. Practice Proper Maintenance.

When should I consider a wheelchair? ›

If you or someone you love is having problems getting around on their own, it may be time to consider a wheelchair. Sometimes, help is needed on a temporary basis, such as recovering from an accident or injury. Other times, a person may need a wheelchair to aid in their overall mobility for the long term.

What are the side effects of being in a wheelchair? ›

Individuals who use wheeled mobility devices often experience poorer health outcomes compared to the general population. There are some distinct health challenges related to the physical effects of long-term wheelchair use, such as shoulder overuse injuries, skin breakdown, and urinary tract disorders.

What is the most important consideration when designing a wheelchair? ›

Comfort and safety are two important factors affecting the quality of life of long-term users. "Design features must be matched to the user`s functional ability and posture support needs, and also to the environmental and durability requirements.

How do you prevent a patient from falling out of a wheelchair? ›

Installation of automatic or more robust wheel locks as well as use of a wheelchair maintenance schedule may reduce injurious falls. Improper transfer techniques (from wheelchair to and from bed or toilet) as well as unassisted transfers may also increase the risk of injurious falls.

How do you overcome wheelchair barriers? ›

10 Pragmatic Ways to Overcome Disability Barriers
  1. Be polite and remain calm around obnoxious people. ...
  2. Accept your disability. ...
  3. Give your best. ...
  4. Grieve and accept all the five stages of grief due to disability. ...
  5. Avoid comparisons and celebrate your accomplishments. ...
  6. Increase PWD representation in politics.

How do you take care of a patient with a person with disabilities? ›

Remember to:
  1. Speak directly with the patient, not to any companion that the patient may have.
  2. Avoid making assumptions about what assistance the patient needs. ...
  3. Ask how you can help them and respect their answers.
  4. Presume that patients with disabilities are competent to handle their own medical care.

What to expect at a wheelchair assessment? ›

In most cases the physical assessment will also include a full musculoskeletal examination of the users range of motion, joint flexibility, muscle length, and skeletal alignment, with neurological issues such as tone and spasm pattern also noted as they affect posture and muscle length.

What three things should we check with regards to the person using the wheelchair? ›

Then we need to check the following: Is their weight within safe working limits for the wheelchair being used. Can they be correctly positioned when in the wheelchair. Are they likely to shift or tip when in the wheelchair.

What not to ask someone in a wheelchair? ›

20 Things Not to Say or Do to Someone in a Wheelchair
  • “I'm only parking here for five minutes.” ...
  • “What have you done to your leg?” ...
  • “You're too pretty to be in a wheelchair.” ...
  • “Can I have a go?” ...
  • Don't speak to the person pushing me instead of me. ...
  • “At least you don't have to walk anywhere, I'm knackered.”
Feb 2, 2016

What are the most common wheelchair accidents? ›

Common wheelchair injuries include soft tissue and nerve damage, sprains and strains, abrasions, and contusions, as well as injuries to the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, and wrist. More serious injuries like fractures, head injuries, and brain injuries can also result.

What are the safety risks of a wheelchair? ›

Safety risks posed to the person in the wheelchair may include hazards such as the rider sliding out of the wheelchair or a poorly secured wheelchair rolling in the cabin or tipping over. The injured wheelchair user could suffer head and neck injuries, broken bones or other serious injuries.

What is the life expectancy of someone in a wheelchair? ›

The average lifespan of a wheelchair is around four years and if you give it special care it may last for about five years on average. However, several factors contribute to the overall lifespan of the wheelchair.

What is the main safety component with wheelchair usage? ›

Practicing basic wheelchair safety like setting the wheel locks (in manual wheelchairs) or turning off the power (in electric wheelchairs) before transferring the occupant, and lifting the footplates before getting in/out of the chair can prevent adverse events from occurring.

How do I prepare my house for a wheelchair? ›

10 Steps to Get Your Home Ready For a Wheelchair
  1. Go Cordless. Invest in a cordless telephone, and buy extra handsets for it. ...
  2. Lower Your Closet Shelves and Rods. ...
  3. Make Doors Easy-Access. ...
  4. Make Exterior Areas Smoother. ...
  5. Make a Way for Wheels. ...
  6. Ditch the Rug. ...
  7. Raise Your Table to Meet You. ...
  8. Ramp Up Your Home's Accessibility.
Apr 25, 2017

What are the 5 barriers for persons with disabilities? ›

Five of the most common kinds of barriers are:
  • Physical or Architectural Barriers.
  • Informational or Communicational Barriers.
  • Technological Barriers.
  • Organizational Barriers.
  • Attitudinal Barriers.
Nov 11, 2019

What are the five types of accessibility barriers? ›

These barriers are attitudinal, organizational or systemic, architectural or physical, information or communications, and technological.

How can I improve my wheelchair accessibility? ›

Ways to improve access for disabled patients
  1. Doorways. One way in which you can improve accessibility for disabled individuals is by widening doorways so that wheelchairs and mobility scooters can pass through easily. ...
  2. Ramps. ...
  3. Fire alarms. ...
  4. Bathroom facilities.

What are three interventions to prevent falls in patients? ›

Keep the patient's personal possessions within patient safe reach. Have sturdy handrails in patient bathrooms, room, and hallway. Place the hospital bed in low position when a patient is resting in bed; raise bed to a comfortable height when the patient is transferring out of bed. Keep hospital bed brakes locked.

What precautionary measures are needed to support a client on a wheelchair? ›

If required, assist the client to place their feet on the footplates, with their heels well back. Ensure that the client's elbows are not sticking outside the wheelchair when going through doorways. Also ensure that their hands are on their laps and not hanging outside the chair where they can catch in the spokes.

How do you stay safe in a wheelchair? ›

How to Operate a Wheelchair Safely Outdoors
  1. Wear a seat belt. When operating a wheelchair outdoors, utilize the seat belt on the wheelchair for added safety. ...
  2. Keep all wheels on the ground. ...
  3. Use the wheel locks. ...
  4. Know the path. ...
  5. Utilize the foot supports. ...
  6. Try safety gear. ...
  7. Secure all baggage.

What are common barriers to mobility? ›

So why has it been so difficult to implement? The most common barriers to patient mobility can be grouped in four categories: equipment, patient availability, staff availability, and unit planning.

What are four challenges faced by disabled people in that place or in general? ›

Challenges Faced by Disabled Persons in the Workplace

Lack of education. Trapped in Poverty. Stigmatization. The disparity between supply and demand.

How do you help someone adjust to a wheelchair? ›

Make them comfortable

Lower your friend or family member into the wheelchair slowly and steadily, making sure they are fully seated in the chair, not perched on the edge. If they are able to stand and lower themselves into the chair, stand behind it and hold on to the handles to make sure it doesn't move.

What important steps you may take when helping a client with disabilities? ›

  • The elephant in the room? ...
  • If possible, have a frame. ...
  • Accommodate your client's needs. ...
  • The relationship is everything. ...
  • Always ask. ...
  • Forget what you know. ...
  • Talk about disclosure. ...
  • Get their feedback.
Sep 16, 2019

What are the problems faced by disabled persons? ›

Some persons with disabilities die up to 20 years earlier than those without disabilities. Persons with disabilities have twice the risk of developing conditions such as depression, asthma, diabetes, stroke, obesity or poor oral health. Persons with disabilities face many health inequities.

What are the 5 elements of a mobility assessment? ›

A physical assessment targeting the patient's specific condition(s) and functional limitations that are causing the patient's mobility to be impaired, including:
  • Weight and Height.
  • Cardiopulmonary Examination. Oxygen desaturation levels on RA and with activity. ...
  • Musculosketal Exam. ...
  • Neurological Examination.

What is basic wheelchair etiquette? ›

Here are a few tips for navigating the etiquette of interacting with a person who uses a wheelchair.
  • Make Eye Contact. ...
  • Never Assume. ...
  • Speak Normally. ...
  • No Comments Please. ...
  • Respect Personal Space. ...
  • Don't Use Accessible Parking Spots or Restroom Stalls. ...
  • Sit Down for Long Conversations. ...
  • Allow a Wheelchair User to Help.

What is a medical necessity letter for wheelchair? ›

The 'Letter of Medical Necessity' is a letter written after your wheelchair assessment to the insurance company paying for your wheelchair that justifies your need for the specific chair requested. This letter is very descriptive and tells all about what equipment is recommended for you and why.

How do you interview someone in a wheelchair? ›

Speak directly to the person being interviewed. If he or she reads lips, speak at a normal rate while facing the person and be sure to keep your hands away from your mouth. Do not exaggerate your lip movements, but speak expressively because the person will rely on your facial expressions, gestures and eye contact.

How do you communicate with a patient in a wheelchair? ›

Communicating with people with disabilities
  1. use a normal tone of voice—do not raise your voice unless asked to.
  2. be polite and patient—do not rush the conversation.
  3. speak directly to the person rather than the person with them.
  4. ask the person what will help with communication—there are different ways to communicate.
Sep 5, 2018

Do I need to bend down to talk to someone in a wheelchair? ›

You do not need to lean down to get closer to someone in a wheelchair to have a conversation. It is completely appropriate for you to stand upright and talk to someone who is sitting in a wheelchair.

What is a common problem on a wheelchairs? ›

Positioning of wheels and armrests makes the wheelchair very difficult to push independently. Lack of a pressure relieving seat cushion may cause pressure sores or other serious health problems. Short wheelbase makes the chair unstable and pneumatic front tyres are very difficult to repair or replace.

What is the most important part of a wheelchair? ›

The frame is the most basic unit of a manual wheelchair and the most influential in terms of performance.

What disease is confined to a wheelchair? ›

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is one of the most common disabilities that requires wheelchairs, a disorder in the United States with nearly 800,000 people being affected.

Do people in wheelchairs have heart problems? ›

Adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities. Nearly half of all adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity, an important health behavior to help avoid these chronic diseases.

Is it OK to sit in a wheelchair all day? ›

People who spend too much time in their wheelchair are at risk of reduced bone density, osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, pressure sores, spasms, changes in blood pressure, joint problems and even cardiovascular conditions.

Are people in wheelchairs depressed? ›

Not everyone with a disability becomes depressed, and those who do become depressed may not be depressed because of their disability. However, people with disabilities face unique challenges and stresses which place them at increased risk for depression.

What considerations should be given to guests with limited mobility? ›

If your guests have limited mobility, here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure they can easily navigate your home during their stay.
  • Ask them about their preferences in advance. ...
  • Share the itinerary ahead of time. ...
  • Create an accessible entrance and exit. ...
  • Create clear pathways throughout your home.
Nov 18, 2019

What are the safety concerns regarding the use of wheelchair? ›

Wheelchair Safety & Maintenance Guidelines & Checklist
  • Regular Maintenance is very important. ...
  • Always lock the brakes before getting in and out of the wheelchair. ...
  • Don't pull backward on doors or other objects when sitting in a manual wheelchair. ...
  • Lift the footplates up before getting in or out of the chair.

What checks must be carried out prior to using a wheelchair? ›

  • Check Wheelchair Brakes.
  • Ensure the Seat Height is Comfortable.
  • Adjust the Seat Depth Accordingly.
  • Check the Armrests and Footrests.
  • Make Sure Limb Restraints are in Place.
  • Check the Cushion and Back Support.
  • Check the Frame Type.

What assessments must the client make before and after using wheelchair? ›

In most cases the physical assessment will also include a full musculoskeletal examination of the users range of motion, joint flexibility, muscle length, and skeletal alignment, with neurological issues such as tone and spasm pattern also noted as they affect posture and muscle length.

What are two 2 considerations when planning a session for a disabled participant? ›

Look for these features when inspecting your meeting/event space:
  • Visibility – Consider those with impaired sight. ...
  • Acoustics – Consider those with hearing impairment. ...
  • Mobility – Consider those who may be in a wheelchair or have other mobility impairments. ...
  • Technology – Consider those who may need to use adaptive devices.

What are the four 4 principles of accessible customer service? ›

Under the customer service standard, each university must ensure that its policies, practices and procedures address the requirements of the standard, and use reasonable efforts to ensure they are consistent with the principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity.

What are some considerations in working with disabled and elderly clients? ›

Be patient and respectful

They may have different abilities for picking up social cues or processing information and they could become overstimulated by noises, smells, or the people around them. Never assume someone needs help.

What should a health care worker do before transferring a patient to a wheelchair? ›

The following steps should be followed when getting ready to transfer a patient: To get the patient into a seated position, roll the patient onto the same side as the wheelchair. Put one of your arms under the patient's shoulders and one behind the knees. Bend your knees.

What are some of the safety tips you should implement during a wheelchair transfer? ›

What are some safety tips I should know?
  1. You and the person you transfer should wear non-skid shoes , such as running shoes.
  2. Check the wheelchair and transfer aids. ...
  3. Park the wheelchair as close as possible to the area where you will do the transfer. ...
  4. Lock the wheels of the wheelchair before doing every transfer.
May 1, 2023

What are 3 safety guidelines to follow when positioning or moving a patient? ›

Avoid letting the person put his arms around your neck or grab you. Use a transfer belt to balance and support the person. Place transfer surfaces (wheelchair and bed) close together. Check wheelchair position, brakes locked, armrests and footrests swung out of the way.

How to stabilize a client during wheelchair transfers and professional care? ›

Stabilize the client's knees by placing your own knees firmly against the front and side area of the patient's knees. Help the client lean over the knees by pulling him or her forward from the shoulders. The client's head and trunk should lean opposite the direction of the transfer.


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