A wheelchair is a highly specialized piece of equipment that requires the shared input of a physician, mobility equipment supplier, physical therapist, and prospective user. The collective opinion ensures that the mobility aid will perfectly match the patient. For this reason, wheelchairs are not normally intended for resale.
Then again, it is only logical to look for a used wheelchair instead of a new one due to the increasing expenses of health care. Aside from that, cutbacks in government funding have significantly affected the handicapped community. Hence, more and more users of mobility aids may find the need to search for cheaper alternatives such as second-hand wheelchairs or scooters.
Since wheelchairs are regarded as individually tailored medical devices, you need to take the size, dimensions, and various features into consideration. So if you ever decide to buy a used one, you better be sure that your body size and weight is within the specified capacity of the wheelchair. In addition, you have to bear in mind that weight limitations, terrain (for outdoor or indoor use), and other similar factors can – and will – ultimately affect the durability of the equipment.
It is also important to keep in mind that used wheelchairs don’t come with transferable warranties. Therefore, if you’re really in need to buy a second-hand unit, you have to be prepared to embrace that risk.
Where To Look For One
You can start your search by browsing through ads posted on wheelchair websites or bulletin boards, and newsletters at a nearby rehabilitation hospital or independent living facility. You can also pay a visit to the State Rehabilitation Department or disability organization in your locality. These places can provide useful resources for people who are looking to buy used wheelchairs. Plus, the personnel often understand your concerns about the circumstances.
Although classified ads that appear in daily newspapers may seem tempting, you need to steer clear of them for your own sake. Second-hand stores, pawnshops, and websites such as eBay also don’t provide valuable offers so it would be better for you to just avoid them altogether. You have to understand that the transactions they conduct are not governed by professional standards – something that is definitely required when picking out a used wheelchair.
Tips For Buyers
The trickiest part of purchasing a second-hand wheelchair is determining its condition, particularly power wheelchairs. Even though a lot of used mobility devices are bought from afar, the Internet somehow makes it possible for you to perform an initial evaluation of the merchandise through photos posted online. You can even ask for additional pictures, preferably taken from all sides – left and right, front and back, top and bottom.
It would also be a good idea to view a photo of the insides of the battery box. The presence of corrosion is a definite sign of poor maintenance. Also, look for other signs of abuse such as bent joystick bracket, scuffed forks and frame, and torn upholstery. If you happen to find a number of danger signs, you better start considering your other options. Expert wheelchair technicians will certainly give you the same piece of advice because they know for sure that a wheelchair’s exterior condition basically mirrors its interior state.
If you’re fortunate enough to examine the used wheelchair in person, take a close look at the drive shafts and where they exit from the motors. Most wheelchairs will have a tiny ring of dirt and grease at the shaft’s entry point into the motor. However, if you happen to find an overload of gunk outside the motor housing, as well as on the shaft, then it’s only logical to assume that the equipment had been poorly maintained and had probably been used heavily.
You should also inspect the joystick housing. If you see signs of wear and tear, you can tell that the wheelchair has endured heavy use. The bottom line is to pay attention to little clues in order to paint the bigger picture.
If the seller insists that the batteries are brand new, ask for the receipt and check the date of purchase. Unless he or she can present it to you, it is safe to presume that the batteries are not in tip-top condition. Also, if the wheelchair requires shipping, your best option is to have the chair transported without the batteries. Doing so will significantly drive down freight expenses.
Lastly, always do your homework especially if you come across an unfamiliar wheelchair model. The majority of wheelchairs manufactured in the last five years are still being produced at present. So try visiting the company’s website to look for detailed information about the product. Also, talk to people who are conversant about these matters to enhance your knowledge regarding used wheelchairs.