Since you have already chosen the perfect wheelchair for you, you must be happy with your choice. But have you chosen an appropriate leg rest? It is very important to understand that wheelchair leg rest selection entirely depends on your individual needs.
Taking the time to choose the right type of wheelchair leg rest, otherwise also known as a wheelchair leg support is an important step in your wheelchair shopping journey.
If the leg rest you have is not the right kind, you can easily experience general discomfort, an increase in spasticity, which is a condition where your muscles stiffen or tighten, preventing the normal movement of fluids.
This could eventually lead to a worsening in your condition, which means that doing it right the first time is very important.
Before choosing one, you must take a few things into consideration. It is vital that you are aware of the different types of leg rests that are available and the benefits that each one offers.
Your feet and legs must be adequately supported when you use a wheelchair. If this level of support is not available, you could experience discomfort and have a few problems like back pain and pressure in your buttocks
The Types of Leg Rests for Wheelchairs
There are generally two types of wheelchair leg rests. The elevated type of leg rest and the articulated type of leg rest. The main function of each of these types of leg support is to either elevate or to articulate.
Thus, the function of the leg rests can be summed up as the repositioning of the user in order to spread the pressure load and help increase circulation of blood and fluids to prevent swelling.
Both these types of leg rests are available on a wide selection of wheelchairs. In fact, they come as standard equipment on tilting and reclining wheelchairs.
Please bear in mind that the angle at which your foot rests on the leg rest, which is normally in the range of 70, 80 or 90 degrees, is directly related to your pelvic position and impacts your sitting position in the wheelchair.
This angle of foot positioning will also affect your movements in confined spaces. Such as when you are turning circles in the wheelchair and generally moving around the house.
You also have the option to choose from powered leg rests and manual use leg rests. Although it might seem like a daunting task choosing from these choices, it all basically comes down to what your medical condition dictates.
Elevating Leg Rests And Comfort
Leg rests should always be designed in such a way that they offer support and comfort to the wheelchair user. The elevated reg rest can be adjusted to operate at any angle and are commonly set at angles between 70 and 180 degrees.
When leg rests are set at 180 degrees it means that they are set at a level that is equivalent to the wheelchair seat.
Elevated leg rests have special calf pads designed to support the calves when the legs are elevated. An elevated wheelchair leg rest has the following great aspect which differentiates it from the rest: it has the ability to position the leg properly in the event that the knee is restricted in movement.
Thus, if you have a medical condition that prevents you from bending your knee at all, the elevated wheelchair leg rest will allow you to set the angle of the leg rest fully at the elevated position, which allows the leg to be kept straight, putting no extra effort on the wheelchair user.
The elevated wheelchair leg rest is always positioned at the same elevation, making it suitable for those users who must keep their legs always suspended in the same position.
Certain manufacturers have designed their leg rests in such a way that should the elevation need to be changed, then first the wheelchair leg rest’s length have to be adjusted in order for the feet to remain rested in a natural position.
Other manufacturers have designed their elevating leg rests in such a way that the pivot points are next to the knee, and in that way, they eliminate the above-mentioned problem.
Articulated Leg Rests Are A Different Experience Altogether
Articulated leg rests on the other hand, are completely different. They extend in length with elevation. Which means that they are a perfect addition to a wheelchair user who have to bend the legs frequently for the sake of comfort.
These articulated leg rests also come as a motorized version, making the whole process easily manageable. It is important to remember though that these leg rests are designed with the sole purpose of allowing freedom of movement.
This is especially beneficial for someone who suffers from blood pressure or who just need to keep their legs moving as part of therapy.
An important aspect here is the automated length adjustment offered by this type of leg rest. What this does is allow for freedom of movement without the continual need for manual adjustment.
Which Type Of Leg Rests for Wheelchairs Should I Choose?
The choice for a wheelchair leg rest depends entirely around the movement required by your leg. If your therapy requires that you not move your leg, then an elevated wheelchair leg rest makes perfect sense.
However, if you can have movement, or if your therapy prescribes for movement in the leg, then it is best to choose an articulated wheelchair leg rest.
When selecting a wheelchair leg rest, first try them out. Your selection should always be done with the recommendations of a qualified therapist. Some leg rests come with pads, which enhances the experience of comfort, while others don’t.
Another option that you might want to consider before purchasing is to go for powered wheelchair leg rests. These make their use a bit easier.
Hopefully, the information shared in this article has provided you with the insight you needed to best choose a leg rest for your wheelchair. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or if you feel we need to add more of these types of articles to our site.
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If you are more interested and looking for other related articles, our staff compiled a great list of the 7 Maintenance Tips To Keep Your Electric Wheelchair Running Smoothly and have had some great feedback on that article as well.
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