Power wheelchairs are often the perfect devices to enhance both mobility and independence. Bariatric patients, however, often believe that their body types will prevent them from finding a power chair that meets their specific needs. Fortunately, many electric wheelchair suppliers offer bariatric power wheelchairs designed uniquely for those with larger bodies.
Bariatrics and Loss of Mobility
Bariatrics¹ means relating to the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity and related diseases. A bariatric patient² is a person diagnosed as clinically obese, generally with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. A bariatric diagnosis generally includes individuals who weigh more than 300 pounds. This added weight can directly affect mobility in a number of ways:
- Walking difficulty
- Respiratory distress
- Poor circulation
- Pain and/or weakness in extremities and weight-bearing joints
As a result of these and other potentially severe mobility and health issues, bariatric patients may sometimes endure chronic discomfort, social isolation and confinement to a bed.
However, bariatric power wheelchairs can offer alternate, more life-enriching options for larger individuals with limited mobility. In fact, some bariatric power chairs can support riders weighing up to 600 pounds safely and securely, thus allowing them to regain a certain level of independence and increased comfort with their day-to-day activities.
Bariatric Power Wheelchair Considerations
Here are three factors you or a caregiver may want to consider when determining the suitability of a bariatric power chair.
Weight and Body Frame
Q: Do you, or does the bariatric patient under your care weigh more than 300 pounds?
A: Bariatric power wheelchairs can safely support up to 600 pounds. Hoveround constructs their Teknique series of bariatric power chairs specifically to be comfortably wider and sturdier than most standard power chair models.
Mobility and Physical Health Status
Q: Aside from being overweight, do you, or does your patient, parent, or other loved one have additional physical conditions that limit mobility?
A: A highly maneuverable bariatric power wheelchair might be the best solution for anyone living with both chronic health problems and excessive weight. While offering some direct relief from the stress of impaired health, a bariatric power chair may also ease the management of routine mobility-related activities of daily living (MRADLs), which include meal preparation, bathroom access, and moving throughout rooms of the home.
Wheelchair Seating and Positioning Needs
Q: Will the bariatric power chair user be seated for several hours a day, on a continual, daily basis?
A: Because so many bariatric and mobility-restricted power wheelchair users sit in their mobility chairs for extended hours throughout the day, prescriptions for Medicare-covered bariatric power chairs may often include wheelchair positioning aids.
Special cushions and systems for therapeutic seating, tilt, elevation and recline may be added to the bariatric power wheelchair prescription³ to maximize comfort, facilitate pressure relief, and make it easier for obese patients to shift their weight and accomplish transfers.
Types of Bariatric Power Chairs
Reviewing and understanding the different bariatric power chair options is important in order to discover the advantages of each before making a selection. Health care providers can provide individualized advice during a face-to-face mobility examination.
There are several types of bariatric power chairs available, depending on the rider's weight. Those bariatric electric wheelchairs that support heavier people (450 to 600 pounds) are generally extra sturdy, while bariatric power chairs that support lighter riders (300 to 450 pounds) have added maneuverability. The Teknique XHD bariatric power chair will support up to 450 pounds, while the Teknique HD-6 is a bariatric power wheelchair with 600 lb. capacity,
A bariatric electric wheelchair can also be customized to suit the user’s frame, with available seat width options from 22 inches to 25 inches. And Hoveround also manufactures the Teknique FWD heavy duty power chair, designed for those under 300 pounds, and offering seat width options from 17 to 23 inches.
Hoveround Can Help with Bariatric Mobility
If it appears that bariatric assistive equipment might be helpful to your situation, call us today at 800-542-7236 and speak with one of our mobility specialists to learn how you or the person you are caring for can achieve increased independence, enhanced health and extended mobility.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional.
1Bariatrics: The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1/20/12
2For the purposes of this article, the definition of bariatric patient includes limited-mobility individuals weighing between 301 and 600 pounds.
3Power chair prescriptions that may include medically necessary power wheelchair accessories are determined by the diagnosis of the treating physician. Specific accessories will depend on individual mobility needs. Power chair coverage depends on medical necessity as determined by the insurer and a doctor's diagnosis. A valid doctor's prescription is required.