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Selecting a Manual Wheelchair
With all the different types of wheelchairs available today, selecting the right manual wheelchair for your needs can be overwhelming. The following questions are designed to help make this process easier. Once you find several models that fit your needs and budget, it may be helpful to browse through the wheelchair reviews to see what other customers have to say about those products. Then choose the best one for your needs.
Do you need a transport chair or a standard wheelchair?
The main difference between transport and standard, self-propelled wheelchairs is the size of the rear wheels. Standard wheelchairs have two large wheels in the back and smaller caster wheels in the front that allow the chair to be either propelled by the sitter or pushed by a companion.
Transport wheelchairs have four small wheels, typically 12 inches or smaller in diameter, and are designed to be pushed by a companion, although some users like to move the transport chair within a small space by shuffling their feet.
Because of their lightweight and compact size, transport chairs are ideal for travel, trips outside the home, and occasional use. For everyday use and greater independence, standard chairs offer more comfort and freedom for the user.
How will the wheelchair be used?
Pool and beach chairs, travel wheelchairs, sport wheelchairs, and rehab shower commode chairs are all designed for a specific purpose. Transport chairs, standard wheelchairs, and electric wheelchairs are designed for general purpose use. What type of chair you need all depends on how you plan to use it. In fact, you may find that you need more than one type of chair to increase your capacity for independence and mobility.
As you figure out which type of chair fits your needs, take into account the different features available, including removable armrests, elevating legrests, adjustable backrests, and removable footrests. Wheelchair accessories, such as cushions, cup holders, and gloves, can also increase comfort for the user.
How lightweight does the chair need to be?
Will the wheelchair be used for travel? Will you be lifting it into a trunk or vehicle? Do you need a lightweight wheelchair that is easy to push uphill? Consider buying a standard lightweight wheelchair or a light transport chair to save your back and lessen the effort required to lift or move the chair. Transport chairs tend to be lighter to lift than standard wheelchairs and can fold into a tighter space.
How compact does the wheelchair need to be?
If the chair needs to fit into a small vehicle or closet, the more compact the chair, the easier it will fit. A light transport wheelchair folds into a compact size for storage and travel. Also, some standard wheelchairs have removable rear wheels that can be lifted and stored separately from the seat frame for added versatility.
What size wheelchair do you need?
Measure the user's width at the hips (while seated) to determine the correct chair width. Then add one inch to this measurement to allow for bulky clothing and wiggle room. See our Wheelchair Buying Guide for more information on choosing the right size wheelchair.
How much weight does the wheelchair need to support?
Check the weight capacity before purchasing a wheelchair. If the user's weight is at or above the chair's weight limits, you will need to look for a heavy duty wheelchair that can safely support the user's weight.
Lightweight Wheelchair FAQ
How much does a lightweight wheelchair weigh?
Lightweight wheelchairs range anywhere from 27 to 35 pounds. The overall weight depends on what materials were used to make the chair, how much weight the chair is designed to hold, how wide the seat is, and which accessories are included. The weight of the leg riggings may or may not be included in the overall weight of the wheel chair for sale. Some manufacturers list the total weight with leg riggings; others list just the wheel chair weight, with no accessories.
What materials are used in a lightweight wheelchair?
Lightweight aluminum is the most common material used in lightweight wheelchairs. Aluminum combines strength and durability in a lightweight material. Steel wheelchairs are often slightly heavier than aluminum. Most manufacturers offer both steel and aluminum wheel chairs for sale.
Can I lift a lightweight wheelchair into my vehicle?
The average caregiver is strong enough to lift a lightweight wheelchair and place it in the trunk or back seat of their vehicle. Be sure to use safe lifting techniques when transporting a wheel chair. If you struggle with back problems, we recommend loading the wheelchair by pushing it up a portable ramp or asking someone else to lift the chair.
To make the wheelchair lighter, you can remove the leg riggings and any other parts of the chair that are removable, such as the arm rests or quick-release rear wheels. If you need a wheel chair that is even lighter, consider buying a transport wheel chair. The rear wheels on a transport chair are only 6 to 8 inches tall, which reduces the overall weight of the wheelchair.
For more information on selecting a manual wheelchair, please refer to our Wheelchair Buying Guide.
Roll Mobility is a trusted Internet source for affordable and high quality durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers, rollators, bathroom safety products, and mobility aids. Roll Mobility is also an authorized online retailer for Drive Medical products.