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Most people are familiar with prescriptions from a doctor for medications, but not for mobility aids such as wheelchairs or even crutches. The process of choosing the right wheelchair can be especially difficult, because the types of options available are as varied as the types of people in the world and their various lifestyles.

Depending on what you do on a daily basis, you may need a chair with a pressure-relieving cushion, brake extensions, or other special options in order to make it effective. Since a wheelchair is designed to either fully provide or significantly add to your mobility, it’s vital that you get the right chair for you.

Unlike prescriptions for medications, which are very specific, a doctor’s prescription for a wheelchair often reads “a wheelchair”. This is partly because most General Practitioners are not experts in physical medicine and so they are not really qualified to make a suggestion as to exactly what type of chair you’ll require.

When possible, it is a very good idea to go through the selection process with a qualified physiotherapist or occupational therapist who knows what your daily routine and lifestyle look like so that they can help you get the chair that properly suits your needs.

Depending on what your requirements are, you may need to have your doctor write a somewhat specific prescription for insurance purposes. If you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in your chair, or if you have particular needs in terms of posture or support, these options can represent a considerable expense above a basic wheelchair system – for many insurers to provide payment, they require that these options be outlined by a physician, which means that you may need to have the prescription re-written by your doctor after an evaluation with a rehabilitation professional.

Although evaluations are not yet required by all insurers, most rehabilitation personnel consider them an absolute requirement – people always test-drive a car before buying it, and in the same way you should get to test-drive your wheelchair and have a professional opinion to ensure that it will do what you need it to.

Getting a professional evaluation before purchasing your wheelchair is the best way to ensure that you get a chair that will support you in doing what you need to do on a daily basis so that you can live comfortably and do the things that you want and need to do, so even if your insurer doesn’t demand one – insist on it!

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