How to Choose a Standing Wheelchair

Wheelchair users spend a large amount of time in a sitting position. Unfortunately sitting for long periods of time can have a lot of negative impacts with some side effects that include pressure sores and muscle tightness. One solution to combat these side effects of sitting for a long time is for the user to try a standing wheelchair. Standing wheelchairs are suitable for those who want to improve their health and lifestyle.

The benefits of a standing wheelchair

The three main benefits of a standing wheelchair are: 

  • Physical benefits: Improve circulation & blood pressure; help digestive & urinary system; enhance bone density & muscle. 
  • Psychological benefits: improve self-esteem.
  • Lifestyle benefits: Increase independence.

This is a quick overview of the benefits of standing for a wheelchair user. You can read more about the physical and mental rehabilitation here.

How can a standing wheelchair reduce the risk of pressure sores?

We know that “the presence of pressure ulcers, is the third leading cause of death among people with SCI” therefore wheelchair users need a wheelchair with functions that can relieve pressure on their body to prevent pressure sores. In the previous blogs, we have talked about the benefits of a reclining and/or tilting wheelchair, however, standing will obtain even better results. Studies have shown that standing at a 75° angle can reduce 60% of sitting pressure, therefore standing is the best way to reduce sitting pressure. 

Although standing can bring users a lot of benefits, it is not suitable for all users. For example, user’s with:

We strongly recommend getting the opinion of a doctor or physiotherapist before trying a standing wheelchair, especially users with the above health problems. 

Types of standing wheelchair

There are not too many standing wheelchairs on the market so a better way to know the right standing wheelchair for the user is to assess the type of mechanism for standing the user is able to use, and their level of independence.

What kind of standing mechanism does the client need for standing?

There are 2 types of standing mechanisms available on the market; manual and power.

The manual standing (left), and power standing wheelchairs SME (middle) & Ergo Stand (right). 

The benefit of a manual standing wheelchair is that the overall weight of the chair is lighter, however it is more laboring to stand up as the user has to manually push themselves up into the standing position. A power standing wheelchair is easier to operate and more relaxing to use with the touch of a button or joystick. 

What level of independence does the user need for their choice of mobility?

If the user has a good family support system or a full-time caregiver, then manual mobility may be enough. The main benefit of a standing wheelchair for this group of users is to improve their health. However, for a wheelchair user who lives alone, doesn’t have family support, or wants a more independent life, a power wheelchair with standing functions is the choice for them.

SME (left) and Ergo Stand (right) are examples of manual and power standing wheelchairs. 

SME is a self-propelled manual wheelchair with power standing that allows users to reach for items safely, and/or practice physical rehabilitation. SME is foldable and portable which will make travelling and storage much easier.  SME cannot be driven in the standing position, unlike Ergo Stand. Ergo Stand can provide users more independence in their daily routine. Ergo Stands front-wheel drive is designed for outdoor and indoor use because of it’s great obstacle climbing ability and small turning radius. 

The most advanced KARMA standing wheelchair 

Evo Altus is the ultimate power wheelchair with all the biomechanical positionings (power tilt, power recline, power elevating seat, and power standing). Evo Altus is suitable for users who have been diagnosed with progressive diseases or pediatric users with special needs.

Unlike SME and Ergo Stand standing wheelchairs, EVO Altus can achieve the standing position from lying down. Source: Karma Medical YouTube – Evo Altus Product Video

Summary 

The long list of health benefits makes it clear most wheelchair users can benefit from a standing wheelchair. In the next blog, we will review some case studies so you can more deeply understand what types of users can benefit from which type of standing wheelchair.