Which type of wheelchair do you need?
We stock both electric and manual wheelchairs in a variety of brands with chairs to suit every need. Wheelchairs can be split into two main categories, electrically powered or manual.
Choosing the right chair
Choosing a wheelchair can be so overwhelming, there are so many designs to choose from; electric, folding and rigid wheelchairs as well as sports chairs and paediatric chairs, the list goes on. This is also assuming that a wheelchair powered or standard, is actually the best mobility option for you, over and above say a mobility scooter.
|Manual Wheelchairs||Powered Wheelchairs|
|Advantages||Lighter in weight.|
More reliable as no motorised parts.
Easier to transport.
Easier to overcome accessibility problems.
|Less effort to travel.|
Easier to modify
Available with power seating options.
|Possible aches after long term use.|
Requires physical effort from you (self-propelled) or another (transit) to move.
|Harder to transport.|
You should always try out more than one type of wheelchair when you are considering buying a wheelchair. Also get advice from your doctor or career to find out what features you will need.
You need to have the following questions in mind when choosing your wheelchair.
- How long will I be in my wheelchair?
- Will I be using my wheelchair primarily indoors or outdoors?
- Will I be using my wheelchair for sports?
- How often do I travel and will need to transport my wheelchair?
- What can I afford financially?
Overview on the types of wheelchairs
Manual wheelchairs are aimed at those who have the capability and want to self-propel themselves or have another person to help move them around regularly. Self-propelling chairs usually work with rims on the large rear wheels which can be used to push and steer the chair.
These work great over kerbs and allow the user complete control however if you have difficulty always pushing the chair then perhaps you would be better off with a transit or self-propelled (powered) wheelchair.
Transit wheelchairs are designed to be used by the user and someone to push them, commonly used in hospitals and care homes they are often also the cheapest to buy. They typically have smaller back wheels to make it easier for the person pushing, as well as being easier to detach into pieces or fold to store and place in the back of a car.
Self-propel or powered wheelchairs are ideal for those who want the freedom to go anywhere with their wheelchair but don’t have the capability to do so. They can also be operated in a number of ways for example using a touch pad or head pressure plates, this makes powered chairs incredibly versatile and flexible depending on the person using them.
However, power chairs include a motor and are generally the heaviest type of chair, therefore transporting them in another vehicle can be more difficult than a detaching or easily folding manual wheelchair.
The overall weight
Arguably the biggest factor when choosing what wheelchair is right for you is its overall weight. The lighter the chair the easier it will be to travel and push as well as transporting for example in the boot of a car.
Usually lightweight chairs are usually better however lightweight strong materials aren’t cheap and the lighter your chair becomes the more expensive you can expect it to be. Steel frames are normally the standard material used in wheelchairs then lightweight chairs usually use metals like aluminium or titanium.
A powered wheelchair will be heavier than a manual or transit as a heavy battery and motor unit will weigh the chair down. In the case of the power chair this isn’t always a bad thing because extra weight can keep the chair grounded and prevent tipping when turning quickly. However, if you are someone who travels a lot it will be harder to transport a heavier chair in the back of a vehicle.
The weight of the chair you choose is down to your personally, its recommended you go and try out as many wheelchairs as you can in person to get a feel on the size and weight that you will want.
Advantages and disadvantages of manual wheelchairs compared to powered wheelchairs
How will you store your wheelchair?
If you are not going to be using your wheelchair all the time you will be probably storing it away, the type of chair can determine where and how you store it. Most manual wheelchairs have a folding seat which can be folded upwards to store, acting like a scissor mechanism the wheels are pulled together.
This is very common and an ideal way to store your chair in a cupboard or under a table as it can fold down. Some types of wheelchair have detachable features, this can make storage incredibly easier as the armrests, footrests and wheels can be removed and stored in a different place. A lot of wheelchairs have quick release levers to detach components easily and quickly.
Here are some overall advantages and disadvantages of a manual wheelchair compared directly to a powered wheelchair.