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If your doctor hasn't already recommended a manual or powered wheelchair for you and you're having difficulty ambulating, talk with him or her about your difficulties. The physician's perspective is important because he or she knows your overall physical functionality. You may need a wheelchair, scooter, walker or other mobility device. If you need a wheelchair, the doctor will write a prescription for a seating assessment.
If this hasn't been your experience, get a second opinion from a qualified physican who specializes in rehabilitation.
How a Prescription Works
A seating and positioning or rehabilitation specialist needs to know your diagnosis to begin assessing mobility needs.
Vendors who sell, rent or loan durable medical equipment also require a prescription for insurance purposes - both yours and theirs.
A prescription is the qualifying document an insurance company and Medicare use to determine coverage of your mobility device. Each diagnosis has a code that determines coverage, depending on your policy. What is covered by insurance will vary from 0-100%. How often you are entitled to a new device also varies but every five years is typical.
Must Have List:
Start a list of your "must haves" before you meet with a seating professional, just to have an idea of your needs and wants. For instance, do you want a manual or powered wheelchair or a scooter? Will you use it indoors, outdoors, or both? What are your main activities? Measure or ask someone to measure each doorway into your house or apartment, and each interior doorway, including bedroom and bathroom doorways. Later, vendors and seating people will ask you to make many choices, such as whether or not you'd like stationery or swing-away joysticks, footrests, armrests, or what type of cushion is comfortable—soft or firm? (Cushions are filled with either air, foam, gel, or a structured honeycomb-like material.)
Will you be the driver of a lift or ramp-equipped vehicle or will you be a passenger? Are you involved in sports? Do you travel often on business or pleasure? Do you use public transportation? Write down your preferences; that'll make it easier to make tougher choices later on.
Finding the Money:
How to pay for a wheelchair is usually one of the bigger concerns. Take time to explore funding options on Infinitec's Finding the Money section.