My partner has arthritis and uses a powered wheelchair supplied by the NHS. It is ideal for indoor use and also copes with pavements or dry conditions but is not much good for muddy or very uneven ground. It is also too heavy to lift so we use a ramp to get it into our small MPV type car. If she goes out with a friend she has a manual folding wheelchair which fits in a car boot and the friend has to push.
So there are two problems - 1. Fitting a power chair into a car boot and 2. having a chair that can cope with mud or rough ground for say rural footpaths or visits to gardens etc. Does anyone else have the same issues and what solutions have they found? Is there a folding power chair that is reasonably comfortable and will cope with muddy paths? Or are two different products needed? One beefy 4wd plus a trailer for trips out and one lightweight car boot chair? She cannot really use a scooter due to lack of strength in arms and hands.
I would like to hear from people that have real experience of actually using power chairs off-road. I asked this question on another forum and just got resellers offering clearly unsuitable products.
However, Remap may be able to help. They adapt and customise things for people with disabilities and would likely be able to adapt a scooter so that it could be driven with wheelchair type controls. Does she use a joystick to operate her powered chair?
My mum had the electric chair with joystick for indoors/pavement but on the lawn it could only be used when the ground was hard.
She had a mobility scooter but her arms lost the strength for it and her eyesight was failing.
Have a look at online websites such as Eden Mobility - I can’t think of names of other companies, they have some joystick chairs that cope with all terrain but might be too much for indoors.
They have some chairs that can be controlled by a carer if they lose the strength or get too tired to operate them. You can go to their shop to try them out or have them come and demonstrate some models at your home, but don’t be pressured into sales, it is a very considered purchase as you know with the expense of them. Then you could try to see if there are any used or refurbished models for sale.
The all terrain chairs would probably need a WAV with a ramp.
If you are below retirement age check if your wife qualifies for motobility and look into that for getting a WAV - wheelchair accessible vehicle. I can’t advise on that because my mum was retired so didn’t qualify.
It might also be worth checking if the place you’re going to has all-terrain wheelchairs available on loan/hire. In my area, a very popular park with lots of tracks that are not suitable for ordinary wheelchairs has (I think) two. You have to book in advance, though. Might be a bit cheaper and easier on your back though!
Yes it is great that many gardens do have all terrain scooters now and some even have golf buggys where a volunteer guide will drive you around. I’m not sure if I’ve seen any where they have powered wheelchairs though - I guess they’d have to be adjustable to suit different requirements. My partner did manage to use a scooter on occasion which not ideal but was a big help and got up some muddy slopes where I would have not been able to push a manual chair. She had to start and stop as she could not hold the twist grip continuously which is obviously fine when you are naturally stopping to look at the flowers etc, then move on.
A twist grip… I hope you have given them feedback about the difficulties and unsuitability for many wit the twist grip operation.
My mums scooter had the hand holder and then levers like you have for brakes on a bicycle, release to stop. So her wrists rested on the handlebar and she pulled the lever but still that requires effort but she would not have been able to manage a twist grip for the same reason as your wife. It would have been too much for her.
They need a safe cut dead way of them stopping if the driver loses grip for any reason but a twist grip is not idea for many. Perhaps they were loaned or donated by a firm hoping to get custom for them.