Hi, my name is David and I have late-onset spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6). Other members of the ataxia community will understand that every person with ataxia has very different needs. I write this blog with hope to help anyone who is considering purchasing mobility aids, based on my own personal experience.
Every day is different and depending on my stability, I use one or two sticks, a rollator or a powerchair. Since the start of my ataxia journey I’ve purchased four pairs of wall mounted grab handles, eight walking sticks, six rollators and a power chair – admittedly I once had more money than sense.
First of all, I’d suggest you to speak to your Occupation Therapy team as they will be able to assess your needs and advise appropriately.
Let’s start with walking sticks:
• I’ve found that solid sticks work best, telescopic second best and folding ones only useful if they’re a must.
• The handle should allow for a full grip – the ergonomic handle works best for me.
• The end of the stick should also have a good grip (technically known as rubber ferrule).
• Ensure that the height is correct- you can look up how to measure this online https://www.walkingsticks.co.uk/blog/how-tall-should-your-walking-stick-be.html
• I find using a rollator indoors a lot easier than outdoors.
• They can often fold for transport, but I’ve found it easier to store one outside permanently as it saves me cleaning it all the time.
• The front wheels of an outdoor rollator should be larger than indoor ones to handle curbs and bumps. I like a minimum of 10” diameter.
• If you need regular rests, make sure the seat caters for you.
• If you’re driving with the rollator, ensure the weight is not too heavy as you’ll need to be able to pick it up.
• You can add powerpacks to wheelchairs but these are more aimed at helping the carer who is pushing the chair.
• Make sure you purchase from a reputable dealer – visiting them in person is advisable.
• Ensure that the chair meets all your needs – weight/comfort/ease of use etc.
• If you are wanting to use it in the car then having a hoist installed in the car will allow you to take it with you.
• The powerchair I bought has an aluminum frame and uses lithium batteries (not a heavy battery pack) and folds comfortably in the car.
I haven’t purchased a mobility scooter as of yet so I am unable to offer my advice on this, but if I do, I will be sure to let you know! I hope this information helps you. Please also feel free to discuss your own findings when you purchase mobility aids.