When selecting the wheelchair that is right for you, it is important to consider factors such as ease of us, portability, and durability. While there is an enormous variety of wheelchairs on the market, most of them fall into one of the following categories:
Transport chairs: These wheelchairs have four small wheels and require a second person to push them from behind. They are often used in hospitals and medical settings or with patients who also have limited upper body mobility.
Manual Wheelchairs: Wheelchairs of this type typically feature a larger back wheel which can be reached and pushed by the user, enabling them to independently navigate most indoor environments and accessible outdoor areas. Using a standard wheelchair can also provide a certain level of physical activity, which some users may find beneficial.
Pediatric Wheelchairs: Designed for younger riders, these wheelchairs are smaller, more colorful, and with higher handles and other features designed with parents, caregivers, and children in mind.
Bariatric Wheelchairs: These wheelchairs are built with extra wide seats and a higher weight bearing capacity than many other wheelchairs.
Power Wheelchairs: Many users enjoy the convenience of power wheelchairs, for longer trips or if they find themselves experiencing difficulty operating a standard wheelchair. Power wheelchairs can vary greatly in horsepower, features, and controls. For extra power, speed, and distance, particularly away from home, some consumers will also opt for a mobility scooter.
Questions to consider when buying a wheelchair:
- What size of wheelchair is needed? Is a standard, adult-sized, wheelchair appropriate, or would a pediatric or bariatric wheelchair better suit the user?
- What are the physical needs of the person needing the wheelchair? Do they have the strength to operate a standard wheelchair, or would they benefit from the assistance of a motor?
- Where will the wheelchair be used? Is it primarily for home or hospital use? Will it be used for shopping and outdoor excursions? Is more than one wheelchair needed for multiple purposes?
- Is the wheelchair easily transportable? Many models either collapse or disassemble, which makes them easier to load into a vehicle.
- How durable is the wheelchair? If it is intended for long-term use, be sure to read reviews on the strength and quality of the model you are considering purchasing.
- Are any special features needed? Would the user benefit from an ergonomic model, special features, or accessories to enhance the basic wheelchair?
- What is the cost? While it is great to search for a bargain, make sure the wheelchair you are purchasing is a high-quality model that is right for you and which will stand the test of time.