There are several reasons for wheelchair use, and some of the reasons aren’t because patients can’t walk.
There are individuals who have lost the abilitity to use their limbs or lost their limbs and require a wheelchair for movement.
And there are others with invisible illnesses that make moving by themselves extremely painful. Using a wheelchair or any other mobility equipment is a must for such people.
In this article, you will find a list of the most common reasons why different people need a wheelchair.
Table of Contents
- Disabilities that Require a Wheelchair
Disabilities that Require a Wheelchair
1 Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries lead to different types of impairment. However, most people with spinal cord injuries require a wheelchair for effective mobility and independence. For example, quadriplegics (individuals with loss of function of the body below the neck) require a wheelchair and constant assistance.
Although paraplegics (individuals with loss of function in the lower body including the legs) could do more without requiring constant assistance, they also need a wheelchair for movement and other activities.
2 Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy are several neurological disorders that affect movement and co-ordination. Not everyone with cerebral palsy will require a wheelchair. But for those with severe symptoms like limited muscle control and difficulty with coordination and control, mobility devices like wheelchairs are necessary.
3 Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The disease occurs when the body’s immune system targets its own central nervous system. People with the condition usually have symptoms like stiffness and muscle spasms, walking difficulties, fatigue, seizures, and tremors. Depending on the severity of the person’s symptoms, they might need to use a wheelchair at all times.
4 Muscular Dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of genetic conditions that cause the muscle to weaken. People with the condition usually require a wheelchair to move around. Those with severe muscular dystrophy would require wheelchairs with more advanced features for easy mobility and more comfort.
Since the condition refers to a group of inherited genetic conditions, not everyone who has the condition will use a wheelchair the same way. Also, the severity of the symptoms of the individual will determine their dependence on a wheelchair.
This is quite similar to muscular dystrophy but instead of the muscles, this condition affects the bones. Someone with osteoporosis would have extremely brittle bones such that simple movement or a mild fall could cause the bones to fracture.
For people with this condition, using a wheelchair is not a must. However, if the person has severe osteoporosis, they might require a wheelchair to prevent falls and help them move around comfortably.
6 Spina Bifida
Spina Bifida is a birth defect that affects the proper formation of the spine and the spinal cord. The spinal cord is an important part of the nervous system and it connects the lower body to the brain. People with Spina bifida usually have mobility issues due to the gap in the spine. For some, early treatment could help correct the condition but complications could also arise and lead to paralysis. For most people with the condition, movement can only be achieved with a wheelchair.
7 Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder that affects the joints of the body mainly those in the hands and the feet. People with severe arthritis could require a wheelchair to help ease the pain in their joints.
8 Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that erodes the motor functions and causes difficulties with walking and balance. The disease first affects the muscles on one side of the body and then progresses to other parts of the body. People with Parkinson’s disease usually require a wheelchair for easy mobility.
9 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS is a condition that impacts the nerve in the brain and spinal cord, leading to degeneration. The disease is progressive and over time more motor neurons in the brain die. The affected person eventually loses the ability to control muscle movement across the body and ends up totally paralyzed. Depending on the severity and progression of the disease, people with ALS would require a wheelchair for easy movement.
There is currently no known cure for the disease and the condition is believed to be inherited in only a few cases.
Scoliosis is a condition characterized by a problematic curvature of the spine. This condition could develop on its own or as a result of other medical conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. In many cases, people with scoliosis would not require a wheelchair for movement and can go about their normal lives. However, some cases are progressive and get more severe as the person grows. This results in the need for a wheelchair for easy mobility.
Hemiplegia is a medical condition where one side of the body is completely paralyzed. People with the condition may lose control over the limbs on one side of their body but can move and use the other side easily. This condition is caused by damage to the brain which could happen before, during or after birth. Stroke is another likely cause of the condition.
12 Motor Neurone Diseases
Motor Neuron Diseases are a group of neurological disorders that alter the function of the motor neurons. The motor neurons control voluntary muscle activity like walking, swallowing, and general movement of the body.
Not everyone with this disease will have to use a wheelchair for mobility. Motor Neuron diseases selectively affect motor neurons and it causes movement-related symptoms in all affected persons.
Using a wheelchair is a must for people with motor neuron diseases and have mobility impairments.
Growing old is not a disease. It is something we should all experience in our lifetime. As we grow older, our bodies become weaker as our skeletal muscles weaken (a condition known as sarcopenia). Sarcopenia is one of the major causes of disability in the elderly and people with the condition would require a wheelchair or other mobility devices for easy movement.
Other Reasons for Wheelchair Use
Other conditions like cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, hypertension, hepatitis C, lymphedema, plagiocephaly, obesity, post-polio syndrome, sleep apnea, and vascular disease could also make people be wheelchair dependent.
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