Wheelchair choosing ideas

The wheelchair is not a new idea. The very first wheelchairs are believed to be invented in Ancient China dating between 6th and 5th Century BCE. The early versions of wheelchair are resembling wheelbarrows mostly. While technology advances, wheelchair technology also advanced rapidly.

The modern wheelchairs were first used in 1933. Harry C. Jennings, Sr. and his disabled friend Herbert Everest invented the first lightweight, steel, folding and portable wheelchair. Jennings and Everest were both engineers. They didn’t only invented modern wheelchair, but they also made them available in the mass market. Their design which called x-brace is still used in modern days while folding a wheelchair.

Today there are lots of different types of wheelchairs.

Manuel Self-propelled Wheelchairs

These have a frame, seat, one or two footrests and of course four wheels. They have larger wheels at back that allows user to maneuver the chair by pushing them.

Manual wheelchairs have two different types, folding or rigid. Folding chairs are generally low-end designs. But they are easy to fold. It is an advantage for part time users who need to store the wheelchair rather than using it frequently. Full time and active users mostly prefer rigid wheelchairs. These chairs have fixed joints and less moving parts.

Powered Wheelchairs

These wheelchairs are electric-powered and often called as “powerchairs”. In these models, a battery and an of course an electric motor are part of the frame. The user or a helper person can control these models by a joystick mounted on the armrest. Other control methods are also available for users who can not control the joystick by themselves.

While ultra-light wheelchairs may be around 22 lbs. each, the largest electric powered wheelchairs sometimes weigh 440kg or more. It depends on the model and the needs of users.

Mobility Scooters

mobility scooter

These resembles to Powered Wheelchairs but its target audience is a little bit different than wheelchairs. Mostly people who are not disabled but can not walk because of a temporary illness or because of being too old choose mobility scooters. These sometimes are not referred as wheelchairs but in fact, they serve for the same purpose.

There are other types of wheelchairs such as Single-arm Drive Wheelchair, Reclining Wheelchairs, Sports Wheelchairs, Racing Wheelchairs and so on.

How to choose the right wheelchair?

This is an important question. Generally people consider comfort, pricing and their daily needs before choosing the perfect wheelchair for themselves.

Seat Width

Every person has different size and every person’s needs are different. So before choosing the wheelchair, it is better to measure the seat width. Most common wheelchair models have 16 to 20 inches seats. There are different models so it is the first thing you should look is the seat width.

Seat Depth

Seat Depth is also an important factor while choosing the wheelchair. It is normally measured from the front to the back of the wheelchair seat. You can measure from the back of the user’s pelvis to the back of their shins when sitting straight to understand the ideal depth. You can also measure your previous wheelchair that you used before. If your old one is comfortable enough, its seat depth will guide you while choosing the new one.

Seat to Floor Height

You can find the right seat to floor height by measuring from the floor to the seat. Depending on the user’s need of the wheelchair, it is important to determine if their feet are dangling or if their feet are dragging on the floor, meaning that the seat to floor height is either too high or too low.

Back Height

The correct way to measure back height is to measure from top of the backrest to the bottom. Back height can also be extended with the use of optional accessories,

Armrests

Basic armrests can be divided into two categories: desk length and full length. Desk length arms allow easier access to tables and desks. Full length arms provide extra arm support.

Optional features include flip-back or removable arms for easy transfers and adjustable height arms.

Leg Rests

The two basic leg rest styles include swing away and elevating. Swing away leg rests rotate to the side to allow the user to easily get in or out of the wheelchair. Elevating leg rests include a calf pad to raise the legs and prevent swelling. Both types of leg rests are removable. Some leg rests include tool-free adjustment to change the length of the leg rest.

Adjustable Backrest

Some wheelchairs include an adjustable backrest height for user comfort. Users who are taller or shorter than average may appreciate this feature.

Dual Axle

A dual axle wheelchair lets you adjust the chair from standard height to 2 inches lower than standard height. This height allows the user to easily propel the chair with their feet. It also allows the seat height to be lowered for users under 5 feet tall.

Quick Release Wheels

Some wheelchairs include a quick release button to remove the rear wheels for compact storage and transport. This feature is designed for users looking for an ultra-portable wheelchair.

Also start asking these questions before making your decision:

  • What size wheelchair do you need?
    How much do you want to spend?
    Where do you intend to use it?
    Do you intend to transport it?
    Is foldability a necessity?

The answer of these questions will lead you to a good buy for your first or new wheelchair.

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