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    Thinking it's time for a power chair

    I'm a, textbook. c5-6 complete quad and I've been using manual chairs since my injury in 1978...so 42+ years. I'm finding that I'm getting weaker, more crooked and increasingly uncomfortable in my Ti-lite as I approach my 65th birthday. I swore I'd never get in a power chair and, as of yet, have never even tried one, but I'm beginning to think that it may be time. Does anyone have any thoughts and/or recommendations as I know absolutely nothing about the power chair market. Thx.

    rick
    Rick Goldstein
    GO! Mobility Solutions
    facebook.com/goes.anywhere

    #2
    What is your funding for a power chair? If you are on Medicare, you will have to get an evaluation by a RESNA-certified wheelchair specialist (usually a PT or OT) and they will have to write the medical justification letter for your provider to sign, and that goes to Medicare for pre-approval. It will include the brand and model, and all the features of the chair. A good wheelchair specialist will be able to arrange for you try several different chairs that meet your needs. Medicare may or may not pay for all the features requested, even with medical justification.

    Some private insurances also follow these Medicare guidelines. Workers Comp and the VA do not.

    Have you considered going with power assist and a better seating system for your manual chair first? Going full-time with a power chair only can be an issue for travel, transporting the chair, etc.

    (KLD)
    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 13 Nov 2020, 1:33 PM.
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

    Comment


      #3
      I'm 73 and 25 years in a manual. I picked up a ZX1 power chair attachment. What a strange and delightful feeling, the first time I experienced propulsion that wasn't me!!
      I'd recommend looking around for a used one. Unless it's seriously mis-adjusted, you should be able to try one out without leaving your Ti Lite. It tucks under your rear and essentially does nothing to enlarge your "footprint". It's a very appealing first step towards the cumbersome power chair.

      And, it attaches/detaches in seconds. You can have your cake and eat it whenever you want.
      69yo male T12 complete since 1995
      NW NJ

      Comment


        #4
        Almost 10 years in a power chair, I'll say this: it's a love/hate apparatus. C3 incomplete with a gimlet left arm and wiped out shoulders, I had no choice.

        Pros; Freedom to do things like checking mail or taking out garbage. I can go to my small town barber and visit the bike shop (1 1/2 miles, 1 way). I go to the park and make a 1 mile loop around the wooded walking track (a block from my home). Many seating options including custom fitting for arms, back, and butt. With all power functions seat, I recline a lot to ease pressure and help with circulation (very important concern for me) and stretch my back. I have one for each purpose; small travel chair (stays in van on lift), yard work, shop, street, indoors, and a back up.

        Cons: Heavy (350 - 400 lbs not including your weight). Cumbersome in home, damage to doorways, furniture, and walls to be expected. Transporting requires a vehicle that can accommodate it (ramp van or full size van w/800 lb lift = a lot of $). Tech support can be elusive in some areas. Be prepared for co-pay ($5k - $8k) and expensive options you feel you need but insurance says no.

        In my case, I have no choice but a power chair. I tried a push chair for awhile (still have it), stubbornly hoping to avoid a power chair. I almost bought a set of assist wheels but I must have power seat functions not available on push chairs.

        If your body will allow you to sit for long periods in a push chair, consider pfcs's suggestion or as KLC mentioned, assist wheels.

        As KLC said, you'll need an evail and they determine your needs (unfortunately). Getting it covered by insurance can be a hassle for some folks although it has not been an issue for me (so far).

        Used power chairs are cheap (free to $1800 for a $25k - $45k chair) if you use patience searching. No such thing as a cheap used handicap van for big chairs unless $40k for something worn out is not a problem for you. The small wheel power chairs (like stored in my van on a Bruno Joey) are uncomfortable after an hour of sitting

        .
        Attack life, it's going to kill you anyway
        Steve Mcqueen (Mr Cool)

        Comment


          #5
          Suggest you go on-line, maybe YouTube to watch videos of power chairs, in particular the ZX1. I'm Polio paralyzed and after pushing a manual for decades I purchased a ZX1 about 6 years ago. A real game-changer for me. Due to aging, weak shoulders, I use this device whenever I travel outdoors. I have had vans with lifts for decades too, so traveling with it connected to my wheelchair is no problem. As the Nurse says, how you will travel with it is a consideration.
          I also have a Permobile power chair, bought used 10 years ago. It has the up/down feature on the seat. I used it for about 3 months full time after a debilitating hospital stay, then was able to again use to my manual chair. I keep the Permobile charged as I may need it again. The seat going up and down is a great feature.
          I don't know if this feature is still available, so whatever you decide on you might want to make sure about transfers to bed, whatever, in the power chair.
          Since it takes a while to get one through the insurance route, suggest you start this process sooner rather than later.
          Also, just a comment: if you become a new power chair user, how do your friends and family see this? I talked to mine about it. I demonstrated my ZX1 ease of attachment, etc.
          In the past 6 years I've had numerous strangers, service workers, etc. ask about my zx1. They can't seem to figure it out when they see the manual wheelchair moving about - I have demonstrated it for them.
          Hope you let us know what you decide, and best to you.

          Comment


          • SCI-Nurse
            SCI-Nurse commented
            Editing a comment
            Medicare declined to pay for the seat elevation feature on my mother's Permobil. The chair all-together with all the bells and whistles, cost $32,000. Medicare paid $12,000, their secondary BC/BS covered $2,400, and they had to pay out-of-pocket for the rest. This was in 2008. My dad always talked about that chair costing more than their first home!

          #6
          Thanks gang; really appreciate the input. I'm really liking the ZX-1 idea as it seems to be a decent mix of both manual and power. I just could never get behind the E-motions or Smart Drive options. I'll just have to work on my Ti as I've been having issues with my backrest. I'm increasingly uncomfortable in it and, lately, by dinner time I'm absolutely miserable. If I can work past that, the ZX1 appears to be the ticket. Should work great with my full-size van and my EZ-Lock.
          Rick Goldstein
          GO! Mobility Solutions
          facebook.com/goes.anywhere

          Comment


            #7


            It's interesting to hear wheelchair users talking about not going to a power chair like its some kind of curse...

            yet most long time wheelchair users suffer some of the same physical damaging self inflicted from having to push all the time plus knowing ones limitations many times plays in to lack of doing things.

            As a long time power chair user I do more then my able body friends from including traveling all over the country prior to covid.

            Going in to a power chair in your 60s is nothing and will give you much more energy.

            But don't start your process backwards find out through your insurance who your DME is and then reach out to them...the ATP Assistive Technology Professionals is the sales man or woman who will do all the work including working with your primary care doctor and their team for documentation.

            Try a few demos at your home of different manufactures and get an idea of features that you might need or want.

            Someone posted about having to pay a crazy out of pocket amount when done right and that right documentation out of pocket can be minimal.

            If your on Medicade Medicare your looking at your copay which for the whole year is around $3100.

            Nov and Dec are the months to look at power chairs because your co pay at most for Medicare is $3100 if though 2020 you have had deductions from the total then your payout is less.

            Also someone posted about seat elevation not being covered that also is not true.

            I just funded a Permobil F5 with every feature from tilt, recline, lights, usb charging, seat elevation etc and its a group 4 chair which rolls faster.

            Point being anything is possible!

            If you need any help email me I am a nationwide advocate RollinPositive@gmail.com


            FYI from start of my order I was funded with Medicare Aetna in 2 weeks, one week to get Numotion to compete their paper work and one week for Permobil to build and ship all in only 4 weeks. Delivery tomorrow....
             

            Comment


              #8
              Great info RollinPositive. I'm down in Tucson and spoke with Numotion today to set-up a seating eval with an ATP/PT. I will certainly be keeping your recommendations in mind as I proceed as I'm sure the process here will be nearly identical to your experience. Thanks for your invaluable input.

              rick
              Rick Goldstein
              GO! Mobility Solutions
              facebook.com/goes.anywhere

              Comment


              • RollinPositive
                RollinPositive commented
                Editing a comment
                Rick I am in Peoria and work great with NuMotion that group is based in Phoenix.

                Also the VP of NuMotion Westcoast/ Arizona is also based out of Phoenix and she over sees Tucson

                I am also the Brand Ambassador for Frontier Power wheelchairs https://mobility-usa.com/p-frontier-v6-mid-wheel.php

                for the US so help a lot of people like yourself.

                Frontiers are great for people that are active outdoors so if you dont need that much chair demo the Permobil F3 its a great indoor and outdoor front wheel drive chair.

                Super comfortable and fun to roll in.

                Ask the ATP to bring it to your house so you can get a feel for it in your real world.

                Also there is a great dealership in Phoenix that sell modified vans at all kinds of price points.

                https://www.azmobilitycenter.com/used-cars-phoenix-az ask for Scott

                Here to help my friend feel free to text or call me if you need any help

                602.570.5535

                Timm

              #9
              gold, i say zx, ive had one for a few years and only use as needed. Don't let anyone talk you into a smart drive they are certainly not anything that someone at our level can benefit from much in my opinion I had all three versions and they all sucked for me but the ZX has been perfect
              Bike-on.com rep
              John@bike-on.com
              c4/5 inc funtioning c6. 28 yrs post.
              sponsored handcycle racer

              Comment


                #10
                Originally posted by fuentejps View Post
                gold, i say zx, ive had one for a few years and only use as needed. Don't let anyone talk you into a smart drive they are certainly not anything that someone at our level can benefit from much in my opinion I had all three versions and they all sucked for me but the ZX has been perfect
                I think he's right! If you're evolving into a power chair needer, the ZX-1 is the perfect transitional device. And when you REALLY need a power chair, it becomes a really handy alternative. You know what racers say? You need a pair and a spare!

                IMO, keep a search open for a used one. I got mine for $1200 with less than 100 hours on it!
                69yo male T12 complete since 1995
                NW NJ

                Comment


                  #11
                  Originally posted by pfcs49 View Post

                  I think he's right! If you're evolving into a power chair needer, the ZX-1 is the perfect transitional device. And when you REALLY need a power chair, it becomes a really handy alternative. You know what racers say? You need a pair and a spare!

                  IMO, keep a search open for a used one. I got mine for $1200 with less than 100 hours on it!
                  Were you using EBay and Craigslist??? Are there any other sites?

                  Comment


                    #12
                    Originally posted by goldnucs View Post
                    I'm a, textbook. c5-6 complete quad and I've been using manual chairs since my injury in 1978...so 42+ years. I'm finding that I'm getting weaker, more crooked and increasingly uncomfortable in my Ti-lite as I approach my 65th birthday. I swore I'd never get in a power chair and, as of yet, have never even tried one, but I'm beginning to think that it may be time. Does anyone have any thoughts and/or recommendations as I know absolutely nothing about the power chair market. Thx.

                    rick
                    I'm very close to your situation. C5/6 (but incomplete). Injured In 1977, Feb will be 44yrs. I drug my self around on crutches for @ 15yr. Because of shoulder problems started using a manual chair around the house and crutches at work. Again because of shoulder a few years ago started using an electric when I leave the house. Using an electric is great, it's liberating, after all these years I finally don't have to worry about distance or a steep grade. I wish I had started using one much earlier because I've damages my shoulder so much that even just using a manual chair around the house cause a constant shoulder problem. But I find a manual chair much more functional around the house so I put up with the pain.

                    I'm 67, and there was a significant change for me from when I was 65. Protect your shoulders.

                    Comment


                      #13
                      Originally posted by wes4dbt View Post

                      Were you using EBay and Craigslist??? Are there any other sites?
                      I found mine on local Craigslist, accidentally.
                      I would put a search for ZX1 in my eBay and let it run, and certainly Craigslist where the playing field is nicer and local.

                      There's also the disability trading zone on Facebook.
                      https://www.facebook.com/groups/DISABILITYTRADINGZONE
                      Putting a want to buy there might prove fertile.

                      I haven't seen as many ZX1s advertised as Smart Drives. At one time I was interested in Smart Drives and they are often found. What is surprising is the variability of SD prices! One will be nearly new for $3000 and the next lightly used, $900! I expect you might find the same with ZX1s, you just need to be patient and/or haggle. (like buying a used car! When we got our dealers license, my plan was to offer good values and fixed prices. Every car we sold went through the shop and everything it needed got done-service work, timing belt, leaks, brakes, everything, and if nota dresses, clearly noted on the work order for the car which was also the sales sheet. Wouldn't a line form for that kind of a deal? NOT! It took me some time to realize that part of the culture was that every used car sale requires at least a token back and forth over price! So I started putting a little fat on the table so people would know they scored a deal!
                      I mention this so you'll have permission to be a bit of a wheeler dealer! In my case, the went over to see the ZX and try it. His near adult child had graduated to a full power chair. I'm not a used car salesman!! He wanted $2000. I, quite honestly said that I didn't really need it. Without hesitation he responded, "would you give $1200?" My point is, and my experience has been buying cars, that sometimes what people ask and what they expect are quite different! You'll never know until you show some resistance OR walk away because you just won't pay his price, but two weeks later he's quite negotiable.

                      And, if your time frame is several months, you will soon get clear what the market is like and have that as an advantage.

                      I'm currently in the middle of developing a hang on scooter head unit for the chair.
                      https://www.carecure.net/forum/sci-c...ir#post2904509

                      I've absolutely scored a 10 on something I can throw in my car and go into the city with that is fast (20mph), hooks up quickly and has good range.
                      We went to Longwood Gardens arboretum near Philly and took the ZX which required a portable ramp. With the lead acid batteries it's range isn't great (~3mi). It was great once we got it in and out of the car but my wife had to put together and repack the ramp 4 times! Not good! Never again do that now that I have the scooter-chair.

                      So I bought a second ($155!) scooter and am working on getting more torque, traction, and a reverse gear-all of which I expect I'll succeed at. If I do, I'll one able to get around my hilly backyard to my generator and will have no more use for the ZX which I'd sell for $1200. If you bought it, or any ZX that hasn't been upgraded to the LiFePO battery deal, the first thing I'd advise you is to pay up for the upgrade. The machine looses ~13lbs (75>>62lbs) and a huge increase in range. Current range over somewhat hilly paved roads is about 3 miles-much shorter than advertised.
                      The upgrade from mfr is about twelve hundred, but as I gain courage about Chinese batteries, I think you can get by at much less than half that price by taking some risk. The LA ZX batteries are 12V 15Ah. I just bought a 48V 10Ah LiPO pack including charger for $114! For power/$ comparisons, just compare the products of the pairs; that's a lot of power for not much money!!
                      Last edited by pfcs49; 24 Nov 2020, 6:42 PM.
                      69yo male T12 complete since 1995
                      NW NJ

                      Comment


                        #14
                        All good information. Let us know how you make out.

                        ckf
                        The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

                        Comment


                          #15
                          My husband is a non-ambulatory stroke survivor with heavy hemiparesis. We have a ZX-1 and love it, but he really struggles on long bumpy rides due to the front casters. We also struggle a lot with any kind of curb, even with a Smartwheel on the the front. We are thinking of picking up a used power chair for those times that it's a better fit so that he can go further in more comfort.
                          Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

                          Comment


                          • SCI-Nurse
                            SCI-Nurse commented
                            Editing a comment
                            A Smartwheel on the front? Do you mean a FreeWheel?

                          • elarson
                            elarson commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I meant the Molab SmartWheel http://www.mogowheelchairs.com.au/molab-smartwheel~1585. The reason for the SmartWheel is that the FreeWheel can not be attached to a wheelchair with individual flip-up footrests. The SmartWheel attaches to the frame.
                            Last edited by elarson; Today, 6:54 AM.
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