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A spare wheelchair - you have one, right?  Maybe it's your first powerchair, which you've kept in your garage after all these years, and never fails to work like a charm when you flick the power switch.  Or, maybe it's the powerchair in your closet, the one that your newest powerchair recently replaced, but you've still kept the old one charged, ready to roll, just in case you need it.  Or, maybe it's simply a manual wheelchair to get you by when absolutely in need.  In any of these scenarios, you're wise to have a back-up wheelchair for if - or when - an issue arises.

I'm always shocked when users share with me that they don't have a back-up wheelchair.  Of course, I most often learn of this distressing fact at the worst possible time - that is, when one's wheelchair has an issue and needs a repair that will leave the user without mobility for a day or longer.

Now, you may be wondering, what happens when one's wheelchair needs repair, but there's not a back-up wheelchair to use?

The answer is, one is usually confined to bed.  Providers and manufacturers will try to provide a loaner wheelchair in some instances, but with complex disabilities and high-end seating needs, it's rarely feasible - read that, it's all but impossible to provide a loaner wheelchair with the type of tailored seating many require within the immediacy of a repair circumstance.  Even in a situation where the provider picks up a wheelchair the same day for repair, and the manufacturer overnights the part, there's still 24-hours of lost mobility in the best circumstance - and the news for situations where service is slow or parts are on order proves especially grim.

The solution, however, is an easy one:  Make sure that you have a back-up wheelchair.  Fortunately, most insurers and funding sources allow users to keep their previous powerchair when receiving a new one, so simply retaining your old powerchair is a sure-fire way to have back-up mobility - it may be old and worn, but as long as your previous powerchair can safely keep you mobile around your home, it's an exceptionally valuable alternative to bed confinement.  Further, for those with less complex seating and mobility needs, purchasing an inexpensive used powerchair or manual wheelchair is a sound step toward preservation of mobility.

Surely, we all want to trust that our mobility products will never let us down, running from sunrise to sunset, flawlessly, year after year.  However, we live in a physical world, where even with the most reliable products, issues can arise.  And, when issues arise, it's vital that you have a back-up wheelchair to keep you mobile, healthy, and safe.  

Published 11/06, Copyright 2006, WheelchairJunkie.com