A walker, crutches, and a wheelchair

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Mobility Aids With PsA

Rollators, wheelchairs, and crutches have been keeping me on the move since 2005. Mobility aids allow the damaged parts of my body to rest and heal. They also extend the amount of time I can be out and about.

Crutches come to the rescue when experiencing a psoriatic arthritis flare-up in my knees. My rollator with seat is fantastic for balance and providing a comfortable place to rest when I need one. Most recently, my power wheelchair has been a lifesaver. With mobility issues stemming from multiple chronic conditions, walking has not been an option for the past year and a half.

Things to keep in mind when it comes to mobility aids

Mobility aids have allowed me to do more than if I had to rely on my body. But there are also some disadvantages that people considering one should keep in mind.

Let's take a look at the disadvantages

The first disadvantage is the most common roadblock for people with mobility problems. And that is the cost. Except for canes and crutches, mobility aids can get quite expensive. Depending upon your needs, a quality rollator and manual wheelchair could cost you anywhere from $150 to $500. Higher if you are looking for a self-propelling, medical-grade, or specialized manual wheelchair. Power wheelchairs and scooters cost thousands of dollars.

This brings us to disadvantage number two. Insurance will not cover the affordable or easy-to-transport options in regards to power wheelchairs and scooters. Depending on your coverage, your portion of payment for a larger heavy-duty power wheelchair could cost you as much if not more than a foldable, easy to travel with version.

Paying to outfit your vehicle to fit a larger mobility scooter can cost more than a foldable power wheelchair. Speaking of cars, before my swarm of abdominal muscle tears, I could lift mine in and out of the trunk of our sedan. It may have been easier to slide a power wheelchair in and out of an SUV cargo area. With neither being an option for me at the moment, I require assistance when it comes to removing and putting mine back in the vehicle. This brings me to the disadvantage I dislike the most.

Something else to keep in mind...

For me, the most significant disadvantage of using any mobility aid is reliance on someone else. When using crutches or rollators, I needed to know my limitations. I didn’t want to run out of steam before returning to my home or vehicle. The same went when I was self-propelling a manual wheelchair. And while you may think it wouldn’t be an issue with a powered wheelchair, it can be when the battery runs low, or the device runs into a technical problem—both of which I have experienced.

Speaking of accessibility, you do not realize how inaccessible the world is until you rely on a mobility aid—tight aisles and steps in places you didn’t notice before are just the beginning. Using public transportation removes the worry of modifying your vehicle or lifting your mobility aid, but only so many accessible spots are available. Lack of accessible areas could mean waiting for a later bus or train with an open space.

Independence is the advantage

Mobility aids extend the amount of time you can be out. Depending on the type you use, a mobility device may limit the pain you experience during and after an outing.

When operating them yourself, they provide independence. You can choose to go where you want and not just where the person pushing decides to park you. Last but not least, mobility aids make it possible to get out of the house with a body that doesn’t want to cooperate.

Weighing the pros and cons

Have you reached the point of needing a mobility aid to maintain independence or to make outings less painful? Before deciding on which type of device, assess your needs, check your insurance coverage, and talk to other psoriatic arthritis patients who use them.

They say our lives do not have monetary value, but mine did when it came to mobility. The price I paid was totally worth not being stuck at home.

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