Edit: I forgot to add how high/low you should sit – I will add that tomorrow! If this text is gone, then there’s a new photo with text at the bottom of the post!
Alonso is a manual wheelchair, meaning I push myself.
This is the kind of wheelchair I know and can give advice on. If you have a need for another kind, I’m afraid I can’t help much. Perhaps I can ask around and hopefully someone will have an answer (no promises).
Tha wheelchair I use, is one that a lot of people with EDS is using. I have POTS and they suspect EDS.
This post came from seeing a number of instagram posts where people use wheelchairs that are completely wrong for their bodies. I know that in some countries you have to buy your own wheelchair in some cases. In Sweden, you talk to your doctor, make a call, get a wheelchair, live happily ever after. And you pay nothing at all for it.
If you can’t afford a wheelchair that is fitted for your body, I of course understand that, and you do what you need to do ❤
Now, Alonso is a Panthera U3, you can see more of him here, or read up on him (and other wheelchairs) at Panthera, here.
When you choose your wheelchair, it is important to think of what you need from it.
In my case, I need a chair that is easy for myself to push, that has great support for my lower back, that keeps my feet still, that’s easy to manouvre, that support my legs, and I need push handles because of my health.
Some with POTS also need to think about if they faint, how do they fall? Will this be a problem in the wheelchair?
I’m going to show some photos, the wheelchair I borrowed, and Alonso, and explain the difference, and why Alonso is much better.
I’m afraid this is the best photo I have of the borrowed wheelchair, but you can still get an idea of how it looks.
1) The tires. As you can see, they’re completely different.
The ones on the left are really good because you don’t have to worry about getting a flat, it can’t happen with them. However, this also makes them extremely heavy and you will not be able to push yourself.
The tires on Alonso are like the ones on a bicycle. They make it really easy to push yourself. Yes you may get a flat, and getting an electrical compressor for them is a bit expensive. For me, it’s absolutely worth it!
2) The back.
The borrowed chair has a straight backrest, so if you, like me, have an unstable lower back, it may cause you pain. It’s also quite high, meaning it will push against a larger part of your back. For me, this caused pain all the way up to my neck.
Alonso has a backrest that is more fitted after my back, formed a bit like a C if you look at it from above, and it’s much lower. It is adjusted exactly after my lower back to give the best support, and it has actually helped to reduce some pain!
3) The size.
Alonso is a lot smaller than the borrowed chair. The push handles are fixed on the borrowed one, and the footplate is a lot further in front of you. When going on the bus, or just turning around, this can be a problem. On some busses, I had to sit almost in the middle so people had problems getting by me. But with Alonso, I fit pretty much everywhere. And with Alonso, I can even turn around inside most lifts, I don’t have to back out of them.
Arms, legs and feet. You can see the difference in size on the wheelchairs here.
As you can see, my right arm is held further out in a bad angle in the borrowed chair. This is when I wasn’t moving, when I tried to push myself, I needed to extend my elbow further out.
When sitting in Alonso, my arms are much more straight. If you’re going to push yourself, I highly recommend to get a chair with no armrests. Not having them also helps you from slouching when being still.
2) The legs.
As you may have already seen, I sit a bit funny in the left photo. I had to cross my feet like this to keep my legs in place, there was no support at all. Since I’m hypermobile, and that causes a lot of pain, I need stability for my legs.
On Alonso however, the frame along my legs are a lot more narrow, and you can see how that support help my legs to stay in place. This has helped to reduce some of the pain in my hips!
3) The feet.
The footplates… This is difficult. It really depends on your needs. The ones on the left photo can be folded upwards, and the one on Alonso is fixed.
The ones you can fold up is usually recommended when you have POTS. If you need to lay down quickly, then it’s easier for most people with these. When I have felt my blood pressure go down and needed to lay down, I have always moved my legs to the outside of the (regular) chair. This gives me more control of my body, and I won’t just fall to the side and hurt myself. So for me, the fixed one was better. The fixed footplate is also stable and your feet won’t shake/move like they will on the left wheelchair. If you have problems with pain or instability in your feet, the fixed footplate is the way to go according to me. Alonso also have a strap behind the legs to keep them from falling of the footplate.
Also, if you’re going to get a Freewheel, you have to have a fixed (and enhanced) footplate.
The left photo isn’t the best one, but it’s what I could find from when I used the borrowed chair.
As you can see on the left, my posture is really bad. This is a combination of the wrong backrest and the armrests. In Alonso, you can see, even from the front, that I sit up straight. With the straight backrest, and with armrests, it’s so easy to slouch, and you will do it, wether you realise it or not! Both my upper back and lower back are so much happier now!
As you can see, there is no room between my thighs and the wheelchair. I see a lot of people using chairs with a lot of room, putting their bags or bottles of water there. This is how it should look, no room at all. If you go and get help (as we always do in Sweden) this is how they tell you you should sit. This is a lot more stable and a lot more comfortable. You won’t be thrown around in the chair. Even if someone else is going to push you, you will want to sit like this, trust me! It’s also a lot easier to sit properly.
Obviously, if you have a medical reason for not sitting like this, you should always go from there.
It’s not adviced to keep things in you trouser pockets, so in some parts of Sweden they give us this practical bag to put under the chair. It have magnets in the bottom so you just push it back and it stick to the chair and everything in it is kept perfectly safe.
I really love this bag, I always keep tote bags, kleenex, wet wipes (you want that for your hands when you’re out with no gloves!!) etc in it. It’s also perfect for medication so it’s always close by.
What cushion you use is up to you, just make sure it’s comfortable. Always use a cushion!!
This one was ordered from the US for me. I can get super warm and sweat extremely because of my POTS. So when I got home, when using the old cushion, it would look, and feel, like I’d peed myself. It was HORRIBLE! Sometimes I had to change pants like 4 times a day!! This cushion lets air through and even if I do get a bit warm, I’m not drenched in sweat!
Tip guards and push handles.
The tip guards on Panthera U3 can bo turned so they point to the front if they’re in the way or if I just don’t want to use them (always use them in the beginning when you’re getting to know your wheelchair).
The push handles can be folded down and in when not used. Since I have problems with my blood pressure and my heartrate, I sometimes need help, so these are a great way of being able to get help without having those fixed handles as you can see on the borrowed wheelchair in the first photo of this post.
They’re also perfect for hanging a bag over 🙂
I think I have thought of everything… if you have questions or thoughts on any of what I’ve written about, let me know! Maybe I should use this blog post as a page of its own here, so it’s always easy to find. That could be good…
Keep looking up ❤