What are the Types of Wheelchairs?
When you think about types of wheelchairs, you usually think about classic manual push wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs such as the famous Hoveround. You might not think about the other varieties of wheelchairs available that have different functions. It comes to mind when you or a loved one needs a wheelchair, making your decision on which to purchase more difficult. Believe it or not, in the world of mobility aids, wheelchairs have a large footprint. With advancements in modern medical science, it’s only a matter of time before we see a powered aquatic wheelchair. In the meantime, let’s take some time to explore the different types of wheelchairs available today.
Manual wheelchairs are the basic and most commonly seen wheelchairs. They usually fold in from the sides and the back wheels are larger than the front wheels. They have handles at the top of the backrest for maneuvering the chair around. They also contain handrails on the rims of the rear wheels for user maneuvering. A manual brake is used to lock the back wheels of the wheelchair. Some models have a foot switch that activates a brake from underneath the chair. Manual wheelchairs usually weigh between 15-60 lbs. and can cost as low as $100. Depending on the make and model of the wheelchair, the weight capacity can vary and hold at least 200 lbs. Bariatric wheelchairs are available and hold a much higher weight limit, with some models able to hold over 600 lbs. The seats and armrests are usually made of vinyl or nylon material. Manual wheelchairs serve as the template on which other wheelchairs are based.
Electric wheelchairs, also called power chairs and power wheelchairs, are becoming increasingly popular. When compared to manual wheelchairs, they offer improved comfort and convenience. Due to their electric components, electric wheelchairs do tend to weigh more than manual wheelchairs making them harder to transport without a van or a lift. Luckily, some brands of electric wheelchairs are foldable and lightweight, making them portable and ideal for traveling. Electric wheelchairs are more expensive, but a good lightweight electric power chair can be found for around $2,000.00. Similar to manual wheelchairs, electric models have one set of wheels larger than the others. Depending on the model, the front wheels may be larger than the rear wheels instead of the common opposite. Electric wheelchairs are battery-operated and maneuvered using a joystick mounted to the armrest of the users choosing. Batteries can usually be charged by plugging the charger directly into the battery or into the joystick. Electric wheelchairs also have a manual ouch feature that allows you to disengage the brakes when the chair is off and push it manually.
Thanks to advancements in medical science and technology, standing wheelchairs are becoming more accessible to those who need them. Standing wheelchairs are perfect for those who suffer from limited mobility functions due to cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and various head and spinal ailments. They usually use hydraulic lifting mechanisms to raise the chair into a standing position. Standing wheelchairs have all the necessary harnesses and seatbelts needed to hold the user in place when in a standing position. They can be manually operated with some models equipped with a manual mechanism used to manually raise the chair to a standing position. Some manual standing wheelchairs can be on the lighter side, as little as 100 lbs. Other models that use hydraulic and electric systems tend to be heavier and can weigh at least 200 lbs. Similar to other wheelchairs, the choice of manual or electric has a big impact on the price. Standing wheelchairs vary in price, but generally, they start around $10,000.00. It may seem pricey, but it is well worth it for anyone who needs a standing wheelchair to meet their mobility needs.
Reclining wheelchairs are worth mentioning as they are requested quite a bit. After all, if you need to rely on a wheelchair for mobility, it would be nice to have a reclining feature. Reclining wheelchairs are ideal for those who rely heavily on their wheelchairs for mobility. Sitting for long periods of time can put strain and pressure on your buttocks, hips, lower back, and tailbone which can affect your legs and upper back as well. Reclining wheelchairs allow the rider to recline and take pressure and weight off their hips and buttocks allowing them to relax and stretch. These wheelchairs are used more by the geriatric community who have to sit in their wheelchairs for long periods of time. Reclining wheelchairs are not to be confused with tilting wheelchairs; tilting wheelchairs tilt back but do not change your body posture. Since most reclining wheelchairs are not electric, they can be found for relatively cheap with some models priced as low as $300.00. Depending on the model, reclining wheelchairs can fold and can be as light as 40 lbs. with weight limits of up to 400 lbs.
Bariatric wheelchairs are made for those who suffer from obesity or conditions that make weight loss a challenge. They have wider seats and can support up to and sometimes exceed a weight of 700 lbs. Most manual bariatric wheelchairs you will find are foldable and operate no different than a standard manual wheelchair. They are considered heavy duty making them able to accommodate users of almost any size. This type of wheelchair typically has fewer options than other types. There are some bariatric power chairs available but they are not ideal for traveling and may not fit in a car, even if disassembled. If someone exceeds the weight capacity of a heavy-duty electric wheelchair but they need a powered mobility aid, a scooter may be a good option. Scooters can support higher weight capacities and provide the same type of powered mobility you would get in an electric wheelchair but in a bigger package. Sometimes, scooters need to be transported on a lift or in a van due to their weight and design and are not ideal for flying.
Athletic wheelchairs are made specifically for handicapped athletes to take part in wheelchair sports. Wheelchair sports include basketball, softball, hockey, tennis, and soccer among many others. Athletic wheels are manually driven and are constructed differently than normal manual wheelchairs. Athletic wheelchairs have rear wheels angled differently to allow for more stability. Depending on the sport, these wheelchairs may have different parts to offer different types of protection and support for different sports. The front wheels on athletic wheelchairs are usually smaller for better agility. While not identified as an athletic wheelchair, specially made hand bikes, or handcycles, are another form of mobility aid for anyone who wants to take part in an active lifestyle. Hand bikes are driven by hand and are great for bike riding and racing. They offer speed and stability allowing the user to even go off-road. Since they are used for sports, athletic wheelchairs are usually lighter in weight and can usually be easily folded. There are many options for reliable athletic wheelchairs and you can find them starting at around $1,000.00.
EasyGo Power Chairs
EasyGo power chairs offer lightweight and portable mobile freedom in a foldable and travel-friendly design. They weigh between 51-56 lbs. and fold in less than 30 seconds. EasyGo folds to the size of a small suitcase and can easily be loaded into the trunk of just about any vehicle. Depending on the model, they hold a max weight between 250-264 lbs. These battery-operated and joystick-controlled power chairs operate on lithium-ion batteries that are FAA approved and can go on the plane with you. When fully charged, EasyGo power chairs can drive up to 15 miles at 3.7 MPH. If you are looking for powered mobility that is foldable and truly portable, look no further than EasyGo Mobility.
With such a large variety of wheelchairs available, it is good to know the differences when the time comes to make your purchase. Knowing the difference in function per wheelchair is important. You want to make sure the wheelchair being purchased fits the user’s needs and supports the functions of the user. We hope this article helps you on your journey to purchasing the right wheelchair. Thank you for choosing EasyGo Mobility.