New To Me Permobil F5 Wheelchair

swalker

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Here is a brief description of the long saga that resulting in my finally getting a used Permobil F5 wheelchair.

There have been a few threads about folks looking to sell or buy used wheelchairs. I hope that my experience will be useful to those embarking on this path.

In October of 2018 I started the journey of getting a new primary wheelchair. Those who have followed various thread I have posted in the past will know that I currently have 4 wheelchairs. So, why another one?

My primary wheelchair for 4 years has been a Permobil C500s VS. I like most things about it, including the standing feature. However, that wheelchair has been out of commission for most of the last 2.5 years! In October of last year, I decided it was unreliable enough to start the process of having insurance pay for (most of) a new wheelchair.

After months of work, Medicare decided that I needed a new standing wheelchair, so they authorized purchasing a Permobil F5 VS wheelchair. The problem was that they were willing to pay for the wheelchair, but not for the standing feature, seat elevate, light kit, and quite a few positioning items.

My out of pocket expenses for this wheelchair would have been close to $20,000. I was a bit dubious about getting another Permobil given the problems I have had with my C500s VS. However, I have two other Permobil wheelchairs that have been trouble free.

I actually decided to spend the money and get the F5 VS. That evening, I found a used F5 (non VS) newly listed for sale on Craigslist.

After looking at the used wheelchair, I just could not justify the out of pocket expense I would incur for the F5 VS wheelchair.

I bought the used F5 and will move forward with making it my primary wheelchair.

Since the price of used F5 wheelchairs has come up, I will share what I paid and what I think it will take to get the wheelchair set up for my needs.

The used F5 has high speed motors (7.5 mph), power seat elevate, power recline, power tilt, and power leg rests. It also has anterior tilt, which is wonderful for getting out of the wheelchair. I am hoping that anterior tilt will largely take the place of the standing feature. I am also hoping that my old C500s VS will eventually be repaired to the point that it can be reliable enough to be a backup wheelchair (so I will still have a wheelchair with the standing feature).

The used wheelchair was manufactured in July of 2016 and had 121.8 miles on it. It also had a custom seat bolted to the normal Permobil Corpus 3G seat. As a bonus, it had an ez lock plate already installed and I was able to confirm that it will fit well into my wheelchair van.

I will need to purchase a new Corpus 3G seat back shell (with hardware), lateral thoracic supports, lateral thigh supports, back cushion, seat cushion, front right tie down bracket, and bag hooks. In addition, I will need to have some programming done to change the seat height. All of those things will probably cost two to three thousand dollars (mostly buying used off of ebay). I may need to buy a few cables as well.

On top of all that, I am considering installing a set of lithium ferrous phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries (another $1,500).

The wheelchair cost $3,500. That price was relatively low because the wheelchair had relatively high miles and had a very nonstandard seat setup.

So, for about $6,000 (with another $1,500 for LiFePO4 batteries, if I decide to go that route), I should have a fully functioning, reliable wheelchair that is set up well for my needs. It will probably take a month or more to procure all the parts and have my friend install them.

The ordeal of working with Medicare was something like a nightmare. In the end, I concluded that the system does not serve the needs of someone like me very well. I am glad I that I have decided to go the route I have chosen.

I will use this thread to post updates as we build up my new-to-me Permobil F5.

Steve
 

KarenNWendyn

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Good job Steve! I’ve always been impressed with your resourcefulness when it comes to wheelchairs. I dare say most of us here are not so adventurous or resourceful. May you put in many miles on your new chair.

How are you finding the ground clearance on the F5 with EZ lock plate?
I have an F5 with a plate for the Q-straint locking system, and even with the bolt shortened, I am not happy with the ground clearance at all. If a doorway threshold is just a little bit raised, my chair can’t clear it. Maybe EZ lock is better than Q-straint?
 

swalker

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Karen, one of the few things about the F5 that I dislike is that it has a lower ground clearance than the C500. Also, on the F5 the EZ Lock bolt sits further behind the drive wheels, so it is not possible to drive over many obstacles that the C500 would easily clear. I have read that the Q-straint locking bolt sits further forward, but I am pretty committed to the EZ Lock system now (three wheelchairs with EZ Lock plates and an EZ Lock base in my wheelchair van).

I will adjust the F5's EZ Lock bolt to be a short as possible, but I am sure that it is going to get in the way much more often that I have experienced on the C500.

Even on the C500 "we" would remove the EZ Lock bolt for better ground clearance when we knew we would be going someplace with obstacles. I think "we" will be removing the bolt more often on the F5.

Steve
 

swalker

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Parts have started to arrive and we have been busy at work on the F5. We have removed the old custom-fitted seat that certainly will not work for me. We have fitted a properly-sized back shell (16 x 27), calf supports, lateral thigh supports, and missing front tie down. We have removed the front anti tipping wheels (AKA training wheels) and tested that the wheelchair is stable enough for my needs without them.

We have spent considerable time adjusting all the bits and pieces so they fit me better. There are still some tweaks to make, but the chair is pretty useable now.

The new Roho Quadtro seat cushion is installed and the lateral thoracic supports should show up early next week.

I was able to spend a bit of time with the Permobil programming software to understand how the chair is setup and reprogram it in a way that is suitable for me. I still have a few settings to change, but it is most of the way there.

I am close to ordering a backrest cushion and am still thinking about what I want to do about lights (very expensive from Permobil).

Overall, I am really liking the chair. It does not have the standing feature. It was advertised as having anterior tilt, but I found out from Permobil that it did not come with that from the factory. I am checking to see if it was added after the fact (several capabilities were).

Here is a picture of the work in progress.

Steve
20190727_172926.jpg
 

KarenNWendyn

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Very impressive, Steve. Are you getting rid of the ant-tipping wheels because it doesn’t have the standing feature? Do they serve any other purpose? I agree that if you don’t need them, they sort of get in the way of things.
 

swalker

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Permobil installs the anti tipping wheels on the front of any non-VS F5 that has the high speed motors. This chair does indeed have the high speed motors (7.5 mph), so came with the anti tipping wheels.

They are there to keep the wheelchair from tipping over in a forward direction in a sudden stop.

Those wheels are a hindrance rather than a help for me. They prevent me from climbing over obstacles or making a transition to a steepish ramp. What happens is the anti tipping wheels go up on the obstacle, lifting the drive wheels off the ground. They don't work at all for my kind of wheelchair use.

They were present on my F5 and C500s VS. They were the first things I removed from each:).

My C350 (rear wheel drive) has anti tipping wheels on the rear. I have left those in place because the tie downs are integrated into them and because I mostly use the C350 indoors.

Steve
 
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