Time for a new wheelchair

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swalker

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As many of you know, I have 4 wheelchairs, one of which has been funded by private insurance. The other three we bought used for particular purposes.

The wheelchair funded by insurance is a Permobil C500s VS, which was ordered 4 years ago this month and arrived in January of 2015. It has over 2,400 miles on it. I am on the 5th set of motors. The latest set of motors were billed to insurance at over $10,000:-o.

In the last 13 months, that wheelchair has been in the shop (and not available to me) for over 5 months. It has been operating in degraded mode for 4 of the remaining 8 months. So, I have had full use of the wheelchair for about 4 out of the last 13 months.

Yesterday, we picked up the wheelchair from its latest round of repairs. The total bill to insurance will be over $12,000. Last December, Insurance was billed over $11,000 for repairs. There is still work remaining to be done, but the necessary parts are special order and probably will not be here until after Thanksgiving.

I love the wheelchair, but I think I have simply worn it out. In my opinion, it is no longer sufficiently reliable to be my primary wheelchair (though, I think it could work OK as an occasional backup).

I checked with my insurance company and they verbally told me I am eligible for a new wheelchair so long as my doctor is willing to write a prescription for it. That should be no problem.

So, I have scheduled an appointment with the wheelchair folks to start picking out my next wheelchair. I would love to get folks' opinions on what they think the best wheelchair would be for me. I certainly have ideas, but would like to hear from others before I commit to a particular brand/model.

For me, the essentials are:

1. Power legrest, tilt, recline, and elevate
2. Standing feature (to help me with transfers)
3. Long range (the longer the better, but at least 12 to 15 real-world miles on a charge).
4. Really great thoracic, thigh, and arm supports.
5. Convenient seatbelt
6. Lights (I use the wheelchair after dark enough to justify this)
7. Ability to accept mud and snow tires
8. Compatibility with EZ Lock

I appreciate your input!

Steve
 

KarenNWendyn

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Steve,

I’ve become a fan of your wheelchair posts. You are the expert here.

I have minimal experience, but based on what I know and have learned (about you, and about wheelchairs in general), I’d say either a Permobil F5, or the F3 with the added standing feature.

I just had my own wheelchair assessment and learned that Medicare will not pay for the F5. I ended up ordering an F3, which they will cover, and am paying out of pocket to have an F5 package added to my F3. This package includes the standing feature along with the greater speed and range of the F5. I also got the lights package. I think my out of pocket costs will be somewhere around $11,000 - $12,000. Not cheap, but less than paying for a new F5. So this is something to consider if your insurance will not cover an F5.

I have been using an F3 from the loaner closet and like how it handles outdoors on pavement and packed dirt. The NuMotion rep had me try an M3, touting its tight turning radius, but I found it’s handling a bit squirrelly outdoors due to the front caster wheels which have a mind of their own. Same with the Quantum Q6 Edge 2.0.

I found the F3 nimble enough to get around the corners of my house and my ramp.

Since you already have a great off-road chair, I think the Permobil F series is worthy of your consideration as a primary chair.
 
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lgelb

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The F5 Corpus VS is the flagship standing chair in the current line. I believe it meets your requirements but I don't know if you have indoor space constraints. Also, you may have to go outside the DME to get the most powerful batteries. As for lights, I would bring your own rather than pay jacked up prices, but that's me.

You did not mention max slope spec. There used to be differences and if those still exist, those could be part of the documentation, since you are in the mountains.

As a reminder to all, the order forms for all the chairs, as well as specs, are available on the Permobil site. Operating manuals are also there.

As to item 5, just a reminder that it's actually a hip belt, not a seat belt, i.e. many DMEs install it at 45 degrees like you have in a car, when 60 or so is usually safer/more comfortable.

It is generally best to have it and any other belts or harnesses installed after you get the chair so it can be installed at the angles/heights best for you. And sometimes DMEs order the wrong size, which of course should always entail a swap.

Best,
Laurie
 

chally

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Hey Steve,

I have a F5 and never hardly use it the only features I like on it is the arm rest lift up out the way.

I need real assurance I won’t be left stuck somewhere so my ride is and has been for the last 2700 miles a frontier v6

Only maintenance has been tires , still on original motors.

I think Permobil are way overpriced and don’t hold up

Like buying a car,van,truck off the lot it deprecates greatly as you drive it away.

For my money or better yet US taxpayers money I go with Frontier nothing else

Good luck

Chally
 

swalker

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Thanks for all the input. The F5 Nd V6 have been at the top of my list to consider.

Keep the input coming!

Steve
 

Nuts

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Steve, I think you you and your wheelchair exploits often. Are you still riding buses sand doing trails?

Matt has worn out the third set of motors on his Permobile C300. Oh, and another actuator. He has over 1200 miles on it and no one wants it because of the over 5K cost to repair it.

The V6 was a workhorse, but as Matt grew weaker we found the Permobile was easier to adapt to his changing needs. I know Chally has continued to use the V6, but he's about half Matt's size and weight!

I hope you are happy with whatever you chose.

Becky
 

swalker

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Laurie, thanks for the reminder that the "seat belt" is really a hip belt. My therapist refers to it as a posture support device. Good for folks to know this.

Becky, It is good to know the Frontier has held up like Chally's. I am disappointed to hear that Matt has also gone through motors. I was hoping that I was the exception!

So far, I have been generally pleased with the positioning and support feature of my Permobils. The one exception is the lateral thoracic supports on their Corpus 3G seat. The ones on the VS seat (now no longer available) work much better for me.

I meet with NuMotion on Tuesday to start the lengthy process of getting a new wheelchair.

Steve
 

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Steve, the VA recently bought Matt a new Roho back for his Permobile. It is curved, so we were able to get rid of the laterals that didn't work so well. It holds him very snugly.
 

swalker

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We just returned home from a very long day in Denver. We met with the wheelchair folks for about 6 hours. Some of that was just catching up on our lives (I have become friends with the sales rep I work with...she is a wonderful person), but most of it was discussing what would be a good next wheelchair for me.

I finally decided on a Permobil F5 VS (Stander) with lots of options. A brief summary:

Power seat elevate
Power recline
Power tilt
Power leg lift
Power leg extension
7.5 MPH motors
Stealth headrest (like I have on my C500 and love)
Stealth lateral thoracic supports (which I have on my backup wheelchair and don't care for, but they are the only option available)
Lateral thigh supports
Roho bottom cushion
Foam back cushion with leatherette cover
New style controller (though, I find it harder to use than the older, color lcd one, I am going to give the new one a try).


There are many other little bits and pieces, of course.

Now we start the paperwork. It should be 2 or 3 months before I know what my private insurance (United Healthcare) will pay for.

As a bonus, they were able to complete the repairs to my Permobil C500s VS while we were there. It is great to have it working properly again!

Steve
 

lgelb

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Steve, other companies besides Stealth make thoracic laterals --Varilite and Otto Bock (some of whose products Stealth is now exclusively distributing), to name two.

As a general side note to all, there is still competition in pretty much any wheelchair add-on you might name. DMEs get better pricing from their preferred suppliers, like any other vertical, but they can order out of any catalog, and, increasingly, so can you.

Don't settle for what doesn't work when considering how often you are using the chair.

Best,
Laurie
 
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