Wheeling Away Comfortably: A Guide To Wheelchairs

Stay active, remain positive, and command your moves as always. Mobility aids allow you freedom with their convenient, state of the art assistive technology and utility. Even the dictionary meaning of “Mobility Aid” is - “The devices whose use enables freedom of movements, similar to that of an unassisted walking or standing.”

Why It Is Important to Choose the Right Wheelchair for Seniors? While buying a mobility aid like a Wheelchair, contemplate that the device is required to expedite-

1. Freedom of movements with care

2. Accord maneuvering and control in tight-spaced areas

3. Have effortless and energy saving features

4. Dispense comfortable, lightweight, and portable ride

Why Seniors might Need a Wheelchair? There are high probabilities that because of non-movement, seniors start getting into a psychological fear of incapability. Wheelchair boosts mobility and keeps them -

1. Socially active

2. Alleviates confidence

3. Makes them self-reliant, and fearless, and

4. Lessens the chances of skin infections or UTI

5. Their involvement and contribution to their family and society increase.

Types of Wheelchairs and their Purpose There are various kinds of wheelchairs available today, which are based on – convenience, seating, standing, shifting, and comfort of the users.   The categorization is as follows:  

1. Manual wheelchairs As the name suggests, these devices are manual and require no battery to operate. The user usually moves it using the upper limbs or with assistance from a helper to push.   They can further be classified under:

  • Standing manual wheelchairs: One of the most innovative of them all, these wheelchairs can be adjusted from sitting position to nearly standing positions using a hydraulic pump. Therefore, the user can not only enjoy sitting on it but also comfortably stand with its support.
  • Heavy-duty manual wheelchair: Most durable and long-lasting, they are made up of rugged axles, massive tubing, double cross braces, and strengthened upholstery to accommodate heavyweights. They are also termed as “Bariatric Wheelchairs.”

Heavy-duty manual wheelchairs are made to have high weight-carrying capacities, usually above 350lbs.

  • Tilt-in-Space manual wheelchair: The best utility wheelchair, especially for seniors who need weight distribution, constant change in pressure points, and repositioning. The wheels use a tilt mechanism to allow adjustability and serviceability, missing in standard wheelchairs.
  • Folding frame ultralight manual wheelchair: When the purpose is constantly traveling, easy transportation, high adjustability, and ultra-lightweight, this is your answer. In addition to the mentioned properties, these wheelchairs are tough, can be folded for comfortable storage, and can be customized as per personal needs. Being extra-light, their maneuvering is simple and easy.

    Manual Chair Resources Apart from such an assortment, a wide range of supports and accessories are also available to compliment each one of the wheelchairs. With advanced technology, many more are in the pipeline to be delivered.

    • Power Add-on Systems: These are systems that, when configured or connected with your manual wheelchairs, help in the swift movement of the wheels without any assistance. The system includes single or dual wheels with the motor to push the wheel.
    • Wheelchair Tandems: It involves the wheelchair as the main chassis on which a pedal-powered bike, which is basically the back portion of a bike, is attached. They are lightweight and come with detachable and non-separable options.
    • Wheelchair Seating Systems: There are numerous products available in wheelchair seating which provide either one or all of them like-basic cushions, drop bases, backrests, positioning cushions, and much more.
    • Wheelchair Accessories: They can be incorporated in both manual and powered wheelchairs like- Carriers and holders; Brake accessories; Safety devices; Trays; Propulsion accessories; Joystick mounts and Gimbals, and much more.
    • Wheelchair Cushions and Backs: Explore from a range of cushions and backs with properties like-soft foam cushion, mildly contoured foam base, moisture-resistant cover, non-skid bottom, curved backs; backs which have lateral support, shoulder support, adjustable headrests, etc.

2. Powered wheelchairs A standard wheelchair that moves using a battery-fitted motor is called Powered Wheelchair. These wheelchairs are highly efficient for long outdoor and indoor movements as they do not need separate assistance or a caregiver.    

Why Powered Wheelchairs: Powered Wheelchairs furnish the following-

  • Impressive maneuverability,
  • Stay socially active even in a hectic schedule,
  • Conserve energy,
  • Speed, comfort, weight distribution, stability, repositioning and pressure relief from long sitting hours.

Different types of powered wheelchairs: Powered wheelchairs can be classified by the location of the drive system into- Front Wheel Drive, Mid Wheel Drive, and Rear Wheel drive.  

  • Front Wheel Drive- With drive system in front and caster in the rear, their maneuverability is stable on slopes, even with a large turning radius.
  • Mid Wheel Drive- With drive system in the center, they offer tight turning radius and swift maneuvering in limited spaces.
  • Rear Wheel Drive- With drive system in the rear, the caster in front, maneuvering high speeds is effortless. They move on rough outdoors with high stability.

  Option for powered wheelchairs – direct drive vs. belt drive: You can convert your manual wheelchair into a powered one by attaching a “power drive system” to them. Based on that, they can be classified as – Direct Drive, where the motorized system with wheels are attached directly to the wheelchair, and Belt-Drive, where the motorized system is attached to the chair via a belt.

A Comparison of Available Options:- While buying a wheelchair, you must be specific about your requirements since your ride, your surroundings, and your lifestyle may vary from others. You can decide based on the following criteria:

  • Manual wheelchair vs. Powered Mobility: Your strength and endurance in the upper body or limbs help propel or maneuver a manual wheelchair and keep you fit and active. For long distance travel or for enjoying social freedom and independence, you need to conserve your energy. Powered Wheels are the best option in such cases.
  • For manual wheelchairs – Rigid Vs. Folding: Foldable wheelchairs are easy to disassemble, store, and transport. They are good at absorbing shock on bumpy and uneven roads. Wheelchairs that lack folding features though are much sturdier and lighter.
  • Power Add-On Systems for a Manual wheelchair: You can add-on power in form of the motorized system to your manual wheelchair in two ways - direct drive or belt-drive. Direct-drive lacks flexibility but is low on maintenance. The belt-drives are quieter and are smoother options, but with their limitations.

Factors Affecting the Performance of a Wheelchair It is only you who can decide how your wheelchair performs and solve your needs and purpose. The aspects to consider are-

  • Weight: The weight affects the performance as it decides the ease of transportation by either you or the caregiver along with you. It also decides whether the wheelchair can be lifted and placed inside a car/vehicle along with the user when required. The frame and components used in the wheelchair decide the weight.
  • Stability: It highlights the tippiness in your Wheelchair and is measured in “tip angle.” The smaller the tip angle, the lower is the probability of it overturning downhill on side slopes; and vice-a-versa.
  • Durability: The longevity depends on the low and high levels of stress wheelchairs can withstand. To measure the durability, “Fatigue Tests” are performed on wheelchairs.
  • Maneuverability: It determines the kind of space required to make a turn by the wheelchair, and is measured in “minimum turnaround width.” It means that it can be maneuvered under tight-space conditions in hotels, bathrooms, public toilets, office cabins, and places where corridors are narrow.

Wheelchair Seating Systems Weight distribution and comfort on Wheelchairs depend on different factors, such as:-

  • Seat Width: The slender the width, without causing pressure on hips, the better it is considered.
  • Seat Depth: Longer seat means better leg support and effective weight distribution. Similarly, leg rest with calf supports increases effective seat length and helps in positioning your buttocks for comfortable sitting posture.  

All the above-mentioned points are critical while measuring body size in a sitting position.

Common Questions to Ask, Before Purchasing a Wheelchair You must ask and get answers to a few questions before you purchase a wheelchair for yourself.

  • Personal concerns: Evaluate personal needs while purchasing. These include indoor or outdoor lifestyle, with or without a helper. Only when you answer these questions, you’ll be able to understand the exact wheelchair to be used.
  • Body demands/needs: Your buy is always based on physical demands like- mobility issues, or old age.
  • Access issues: Based on the kind of access or space the wheelchair will get used for, you can decide on the type. If space is limited, you buy the one which has a small turning radius and vice-versa.  
  • Training needs: You would probably prefer something which is offered with an uncomplicated guide manual and needs less training or guidance.
  • Repair and maintenance needs: Your availability for high or low repair and maintenance will determine the choice of purchase. If the answer to the question is low, you will surely need to buy a high-end powered wheelchair.
  • Financial issues to consider: Powered Wheelchairs are expensive than manual, and ultra-light wheelchairs are costlier than the standard ones. Your budget will decide your selection of purchase.

  Top-Rated Wheelchair Brands in India Top rated best selling brands of wheelchairs in India are:

1. Karma Wheelchair Champion 100 by Karma

2. JSB W01 Wheelchair Foldable by JSB

3. KosmoCare Elite Compact Lightweight Foldable Wheelchair by KosmoCare

4. Chaithanya Orthopaedics Me Premium Folding Wheelchair by Chaithanya Orthopaedics

5. FC Premium Folding Commode Wheelchair Reclining Wheelchair by Chaithanya Orthopaedics

6. KosmoCare Economy Dura Rexine Spoke Wheel Regular Foldable wheelchair by KosmoCare

7. KosmoCare Styler Plus Ultra Light Weight Transporter Wheelchair by KosmoCare

8. MCP Jindal Folding Steel Regular Commode Wheelchair by MCP

9. MCP Jindal Folding Steel Wheelchair by MCP Cost Comparison Below is a comparison of the top five wheelchairs in India:

Sr.No Company Model Cost
1 Karman S-305 Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair 42835
2 Drive Medical Cruiser 3 28993
3 Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair 22413
4 Medline K4 Lightweight Wheelchair 38559
5 Karman LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair 20670

Note: Taking medical opinion is advised. 

A Look at Some of the Most-Suitable Options Standard Wheelchairs

Super Economy Wheel Chair MHL-1009-Hero

Black Wheel Chair

This wheelchair is very convenient and comes with a sturdy steel frame and a comfortable cushion. It is efficient when it comes to navigation and is a very suitable living aid. The wheelchair is especially suited for paralysis, musculoskeletal issues, broken bones, and balance or gait problems.

Deluxe Heavy Duty Wheelchair - KosmoCare

Deluxe heavy duty wheel chair

 This wheelchair comes with a chrome-plated steel frame and detachable armrest. This makes it easy to transfer the patient from/to the bed. Detachable footrest, wide seat width and soft cushion make the wheelchair a preferred choice for heavy patients.

Tranz-Air Ultra-Light Transport Wheelchair - KosmoCare

  Tranz-air ultra light transport wheelchair

If you are looking for a wheelchair with an adjustable length, this one the right choice. It comes with a carry bag to carry the wheelchair when not in use and also comes with a detachable armrest and footrest.

Dura Rexine Wheelchair with Mag Wheels - KosmoCare

Rexine wheel chair with mag wheels

This wheelchair is very durable and requires less maintenance. It is easy to store and requires minimum space.

Active Wheelchair AT60 - Karma

Active Wheel Chair AT60- Karma

This wheelchair works perfectly for indoors and outdoors. The wheelchair has high-strength and rigid aircraft- grade alloy frame which makes it both, lightweight and sturdy.

Invalid Wheelchair - Regular, Folding With Spoke Wheels - Vissco 

Folding Wheelchair with Spoke Wheels

The wheelchair has sturdy, high-grade steel spokes in the tire to combat Indian roads. It is foldable, has a powerful metal frame, molded armrest, safety belt, and brakes on both sides.

Doctor’s advice - For people suffering from Quadriplegia, and seniors with weak lower limbs.

 Invalid Wheelchair - Regular / Elevated Foot - Vissco 

Wheelchair Elevated Foot

The wheelchair comes with an elevated footrest, and safety belt for extra support to weak lower limbs and for maintaining an upright seating posture. It has 16 sealed bearings for smooth maneuvering on Indian roads.

Doctor’s Advice–It is designed primarily for stroke patients. 

Powered Wheelchairs Power Wheelchair Zip Lite - Vissco 

Powered Wheelchair

This amazing, powered, lightweight device has a spraying steel frame and is foldable. Distinctly controlled by a joystick, it has double seat cushions, back cushion, foldable backrest, flip-arm, and needs no assistance.

Doctor’s Advice – Advised for patients with stability and balance issues, walking disorders and spinal injuries affecting legs and pelvis. 

Power Ergonomic Wheelchair KP-10.3S - Karma 

Power Ergonomic Wheelchair

Patented pressure redistribution system-S-Ergo reduces stress and maintains excellent and comfortable seating. It can be disassembled into three parts, for easy transportation, without any tools.

Doctor’s Advice – Seniors and patients with mobility issues or physically challenged can use KP 10.3S.  

Wheelchairs with Commodes Invalid Wheelchair Regular With Commode - Vissco 

Wheelchair With Commode

This chair comes with a strong metal frame with a removable commode bucket. Safety and comfort are augmented by a safety belt, brakes on both-side, and smooth operations on Indian roads get extended by 12 seal bearing.

Doctor’s advice - Designed especially for physically challenged, seniors, and stroke patients.

Rainbow-8 Toilet Wheelchair - Karma 

Toilet Wheelchair

Simple, portable yet sturdy, and comfortable are the key features of this reclining Wheelchair, which has a removable commode bucket attached to it. The bucket can be conveniently used and cleaned.

Doctor’s Advice - The high backrest is meant for seniors and elderly persons with mobility limitations and can support extraordinary comfort. 

Assisted Shower & Commode Wheelchair (SAS100) - Arcatron 

Shower Commode Wheelchair

SAS100 has a unique apparatus for free adjustability which allows it to fit into the car. It can be adjusted to various commode heights, and maintaining hygiene becomes simple.

Doctor’s Advice - The waterproof, corrosion resistant frame is lightweight and is made for care-taker assisted help for seniors and individuals with limited mobility.

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