The day when I receive a new power wheelchair is easily one of my favorite days ever! The feeling of getting a fresh wheelchair that fits your body and is ready to help you live your best life just feels amazing. Then, you’re left with the question: What do I do with my old wheelchair? I usually end up doing one of two things: keeping it as a backup or donating it. Both have their benefits, so I’ll share a bit more about each option.
Keep it as a Backup
In my mind, having a backup wheelchair is never a bad thing. After all, you never know when you might need a repair to your current chair. If you need an in-depth repair that requires your provider to take your chair into the shop, you would probably rather have your old chair that fits your body than a loaner chair from your provider.
Another reason that I like to have a backup wheelchair is for travel! Traveling by airplane is scary for a wheelchair user because airlines always break our wheelchairs. I would much rather the airlines break my backup chair than break my beloved everyday chair.
Lastly, I am notorious for forgetting to charge my wheelchair. Actually, it’s not just my wheelchair I forget to charge my phone, my laptop and just about anything else that requires a charger. With most other things, it’s no big deal if I forget to charge it. With my wheelchair, forgetting to charge means that I can’t move. If I have a backup chair that I can switch to, however, while my main chair charges, I am never left stranded.
There are many organizations that accept used wheelchair donations. For example, there are organizations that run loan closets that accept used wheelchairs and other assistive technology. Loan closets then loan out this equipment to people with disabilities who cannot afford the equipment or do not have insurance coverage.
For example, once I donated my old power wheelchair to a loan closet and they loaned it out to several different people. Here’s a few that I know they loaned it to.
- A manual wheelchair user who was considering switching to a power wheelchair. She wanted to try it out in her home first.
- a man who had multiple sclerosis that was slowly progressing. His doctor and social worker were working with insurance to try to get him his own power wheelchair, but in the meantime, he borrowed the one I had donated because he simply couldn’t wait for the lengthy insurance process to finish. He needed a power wheelchair immediately
- A woman with a disability that caused fatigue who planned a vacation out of state. She worried that her fatigue would interfere with her ability to enjoy her vacation. So, she borrowed the power wheelchair that I donated to help conserve her energy and was able to fully enjoy her vacation.
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.