The term “bariatric” refers to a categorized body type which includes those who are morbidly obese. By definition, if an individual is morbidly obese then they are “100 pounds over his/her ideal body weight, has a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 or more and experiencing obesity-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes” (https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/highland/bariatric-surgery-center/questions/morbid-obesity.aspx). Older adults who experience morbid obesity often display increased limitations in daily living tasks and mobility due to joint pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and reduced overall endurance when using tools such as a folding walking cane.
So, how does this impact the individual’s decisions in purchasing medical equipment?
Researching Products Will Be A Much More Thorough Endeavor
All too often, customers can afford to lightly skim product information in order to review more options and then comfortably make a purchase to save time. Such information when describing medical equipment will often include weight capacity and width measurements (if the product involves a seated contraption). Individuals who are considered morbidly obese should slow down the search and properly assess the weight restrictions and/or hip size on each product. Purchasing a device that is too small could result in a malfunction, a fall, or an injury. Breaking a medical device as a result of excessive weight-bearing could also mean no refund depending on what company it is purchased from.
Locating Products On Common Websites Becomes Harder
Popular websites such as Amazon, E-Bay, and the ever-growing Craigslist offer hundreds upon hundreds of options in order to appease a diverse customer group. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to locate bariatric equipment on these sites which means that customers have to settle for searching for products on specific medical equipment company sites. As a result, equipment pricing becomes much more expensive.
- 425 lbs. weight capacity and 22" wide seat
- Light weight aluminum NO RUST
- Removable super soft seat for showering or toileting
- Four 5" caster for easy rolling
- Removable slide on pail
Finding Cheaper Options Becomes Severely Limited
As a result of bariatric equipment being limited or unavailable on popular or departmental (Wal-Mart, Walgreens, etc.) websites, cheap equipment will be harder to come by. This is especially troublesome for customers who are in need of bariatric power chairs or other widened wheelchairs. Without insurance coverage or knock-off brand options, brand-name, bariatric power chairs are a major blow to a person’s wallet.
Weight-Bearing Recommendations May Eliminate Equipment From Your List
Some pieces of medical equipment will not be safe for use due to weight restrictions. One examples includes folding walking canes. Although some single-point canes are built to tolerate excessive weight-bearing, folding walking canes are normally limited to a 250-lb weight bearing capacity. Aside from canes, this goes for any type of medical device that requires partial to full body weight-bearing (i.e. light-weight wheelchairs, standard walkers, rollators etc.)
Australian Standard Regulations May No Longer Apply
If Australian Standards for accessibility regulations are anything like ADA regulations (Americans with Disabilities Act), accessible public amenities are not subject to accommodating for bariatric equipment if it exceeds recommended measurements. One classic example is public transportation access for bariatric power chairs. Transit systems, such as buses or trains, could exclude bariatric power chairs from boarding if the chair exceeds weight and width measurements. Excessive weight on transportation could result in damage to the vehicle. Another example is fitting bariatric wheelchairs through door entrances to public facilities such as department stores. Stores and restaurants are only obligated to fulfill measurements as set forth by federal regulations and nothing more.
Yes, medical device shopping has its challenges but today’s manufacturers don’t make it impossible for bariatric patients to access the appropriate adaptive equipment, durable medical equipment, and ambulation devices.
Here are some tips bariatric individuals are welcome to use in order to make functional use of medical equipment for themselves readily accessible:
Be Honest With Your Weight And Size
Some people are very uncomfortable with their actual body weight and size, and that even goes for people who are not morbidly obese. In order to make a medical equipment purchase worth your time and money, be honest with your size. Ordering a piece of equipment too big or too small could result in malfunctioning equipment, bodily injury (i.e. sheared skin, pressure ulcers, falls, etc.), or no functional use of the device at all.
Note Major Weight Changes
Keep track of recent and significant weight changes while acknowledging possible future weight loss plans. This is crucial for people who plan on making large investments in heavy duty medical equipment such as lifts, wheelchairs, power chairs, and hospital beds to name a few. Losing weight is a wonderful thing, a custom-fit piece of medical equipment shouldn’t stop you from reaching your goal weight. Instead, it will save you some time and money if you properly schedule voluntary weight loss plans when purchasing new or updated equipment.
Match Measurements Of Bariatric Equipment (Folding Walking Cane) To Place Of Residence
While making measurements directly pertaining to the equipment such as a folding walking cane, consider whether or not the device will actually fit in your house. Consider all of the rooms that the device will be in or passing by. Examples include measuring the tub for a bariatric shower bench, measuring the toilet for a widened toilet riser, or measuring the door-frames and hallways for a bariatric wheelchair. Consider whether or not the foundation of your home will fully support your device without compromising your residence.
Consult With Your Physician And Other Specialities
If you deem it necessary, consider talking to your primary physician about equipment recommendations for your specific body type. Doctors, therapists, and medical equipment specialists have more knowledge about the repercussions about using improperly fitted medical devices. Additionally, some of these clinicians can perform physical assessments for you in order to give you accurate measurements when looking into particular devices of interest such as a folding walking cane.
Be Proactive About Contact With Insurance
Consider all funding options since purchasing bariatric medical equipment such as a folding walking cane can be very costly. Depending on what country you reside in, durable medical equipment, adaptive equipment, and wheelchairs can be covered by health insurance. However, some federal insurances and private policies might have some limitations regarding bariatric equipment. Be proactive and well-informed about what your individual policy can cover.