Manual Wheelchairs Buyers Guide

setting up a new wheelchair

In today’s market, the price of wheelchairs has decreased significantly to purchase and are widely available, so choosing a wheelchair can be confusing. Many wheelchairs will be specialised for certain medical conditions and will have been prescribed by an Occupational Therapist whilst others might want a wheelchair for when a relatives with mobility problems comes to stay.

Self-Propelled or Transit Wheelchairs

G-Lite PRO Self-Propelled Wheelchair
G-Lite PRO Self-Propelled Wheelchair

For those using a wheelchair independently then a self-propelled wheelchair will be suitable as they can be pushed manually by the user. A transit wheelchair on the other hand, which will have smaller wheels, will be appropriate if the wheelchair will be pushed by an attendant.

Folding Wheelchairs

Aluminium Travel Chair Wheelchair
Aluminium Travel Chair Wheelchair

For wheelchairs that will be occasionally used then a folding wheelchairs is ideal as they can easily be dismantled, folded and transported by car. The rear wheels will usually come off, and the back might fold down to save space.

These wheelchairs are great for those going out for the day in the car, or perhaps for someone who can’t walk as far as they once could, but maybe don’t need to be in a wheelchair all the time. A dedicated motor can be purchased to turn the manual wheelchair into an attendant controlled power chair making hills much less of a problem.

If you are looking at a wheelchair for occasional use, the lighter it is, the easier it will be to dismantle and put in a car boot. As a very rough guide, folding wheelchairs weigh around 33-44lbs / 15-20Kg, which doesn’t sound too heavy, but remember that somebody will be pushing the lightweight wheelchair, and perhaps getting it in and out of the car.

Performance Wheelchairs

Excel All-Terrain Wheelchair
All-Terrain Wheelchair

Folding wheelchairs are available in various sizes, but often do not offer the specialised features that a prescribed wheelchair can offer. For others, the wheelchair will be used more often, perhaps all day, at work, or indoors, for example. For this sort of wheelchair user, the comfort and manoeuvrability is likely to be much more important than how much the wheelchair costs. These wheelchairs are less likely to be folding models, as the performance and weight of the wheelchair is more important than whether it folds. These rigid, self-propelled wheelchairs combine a lighter frame and wheels. They might have a more specialised back, seat cushion, foot rests and arm rests.

The wheels on some rigid wheelchairs can be pushed inwards so that they lean towards the user to provide more responsiveness. The highly adjustable and customisation nature of these wheelchairs means that the user might only need one wheelchair for all activities – day to day living and sports. These lightweight chairs are easy to put in a car, and the wheelchair user can put their wheelchair in the car from the driver’s seat. This means that they don’t have to rely on others, and can maintain their independence. These very lightweight wheelchairs are utilising a lot of technology and techniques from mountain bike manufacturers. Indeed, some of these rigid wheelchairs resemble a mountain bike more than a traditional wheelchair, and depending on the model and specifications May only weigh 15-17lbs / 8Kg.

Which Wheelchair is Best for Me?

The efficiency of a wheelchair can be measured easily in a non-scientific way. The user can simply see how far they move in a given wheelchair, on a given surface in just one push. Because of the number of joints, and weight of the steel of aluminium, a folding wheelchair loses a lot of energy, so a folding wheelchair won’t move as far as a rigid wheelchair per push. A titanium sport wheelchair weighs roughly a third of the weight of a standard steel folding wheelchair, and so will move much further per push. This is an important consideration when choosing a wheelchair expert to help with the prescription. All sorts of situations are considered from whether the user needs to cross roads, to the size and width of the front castors.

Silver Sport Wheelchair
Silver Sport Wheelchair

Whatever style of wheelchair you choose, a wheelchair cushion will be recommended; this improves posture, comfort and can help to prevent pressure sores.

If you require assistance in choosing your wheelchair, why not let an experienced CareCo Mobility Advisor help you into making the right choice – call 0800 111 4774.

Carol Wang

I have been working with the best manufacturers of high quality wheelchairs for 10+ years in which time I've developed great relationships with world class engineers. I combine first class design with total comfort and unsurpassed reliability. My spare time is taken up looking after my young Daughter Sissy and my husband Mark who works in the logistics industry.
Carol Wang