What is a wheelchair
The chair can be propelled either by physically turning the rear wheel rims with your hands or with the help of someone pushing it from behind. An electric wheelchair on the other hand is propelled by batteries and is comparatively more expensive than manual wheelchairs.
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Wheelchairs can be used by adults, senior citizens and even children with disabilities or injuries. It can be used by anyone experiencing limitations with their mobility and are suffering from arthritis, motor neuron diseases, paralysis or recuperating post a surgery.
Having the right mobility equipment like a wheelchair is crucial for independent living. Buy different types of wheelchairs online from Seniority to liberate yourself and enjoy greater independence.
Types of Wheelchairs
There are a wide variety of mobility wheelchairs available that come in different models and sizes to address specific needs.
While every wheelchair may have different specifications, a manual wheelchair and electric wheelchair are two of the most commonly used mobility devices.
Also known as a motorized wheelchair or power wheelchair, it is propelled by an electric motor or powered with the help of a battery rather than manually pushing it. As compared to a manual wheelchair, these types of chairs are simple and safe to control.
A portable electric wheelchair requires no strength from the user and is available for both adults and children. They can be controlled with the help of a joystick or push buttons and are ideal for individuals that do not have the dexterity or leg strength to propel a manual wheelchair.
With the help of advanced technology, a stair climbing wheelchair can descend or ascend stairs with ease.
An all terrain wheelchair can be used outdoors and has the ability to move on rough terrain surfaces such as pavements, dirt, or sand.
There are three general designs of electric powered chairs (EPWs) classified on the location of drive wheels -
Rear Wheel Driven– Most commonly used power wheelchair, it can be controlled with the help of a joystick. They are easy to maneuver in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Two large drive wheels are located towards the back of the power wheelchair with small caster wheels in the front.
Center Wheel Driven – Also known as ‘mid wheel drive’, the drive system for this power wheelchair is located below the seat, at the center of the wheelchair.
Front wheel driven - The drive wheels are located in the front and the wheelchair casters in the back.
Different Types of manual wheelchairs include
Manual wheelchairs can be divided into a number of categories based on their intended use, design, style, material, and weight.
Usually lightweight and foldable, it is not assisted by the use of a battery and is a self-propelled wheelchair, that is best suited for individuals who have significant upper body strength.
Manual Wheelchairs by type
Standard Wheelchair – These are the most basic type of wheelchairs that are intended for short term use. Its basic feature consists of four wheels – two large wheels and two small wheels in the front with a construction of steel folding frames. A basic folding wheelchair, a standard wheelchair is lightweight and can be folded for easier transportation and storage.
Transport Wheelchair – These are lightweight wheelchairs that have four small wheels, instead of large wheels which cannot be self-propelled. A family member or caregiver pushes the chair instead. Also considered as a hospital wheelchair, it is commonly used in medical facilities to move patients to an x-ray department or for treatments, surgeries in OPDs and tests.
Portable wheelchair – Also considered as a travel wheelchair, these chairs are convenient for those on-the-go, as they are portable and easy to store. Designed to ensure it is convientent to carry, a lightweight portable wheelchair can be folded easily.
Foldable wheelchair – A collapsible wheelchair, it has a lightweight frame that can be folded into a compact shape and stored easily at home or into the trunk of a vehicle. The frame of the chair is foldable, including the seat. Some models even feature collapsible footrests and backrests.
Sport Wheelchairs – A wheelchair for a handicapped person, it is customized and built for athletes with a physical disability. Athletes with impairments make use of a specialized chair where positioning of the seat is different and the large rear wheels are angled in toward the seat, designed especially for sport activities or games like rugby, tennis and basketball.
Pediatric Wheelchair – Because children have different needs than adults, these wheelchairs have been designed keeping in mind the requirements of a child with a disability. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes for small and growing children, that address different ailments. Certain models are constructed to expand in size to accommodate the body weight and height of the child as they grow older. Available in both manual and electric models, these may help increase your child’s mobility, stability and independence.
Reclining wheelchair - A heavy duty wheelchair, it is designed to allow the user to recline the backrest at a gradual angle. Recliner wheelchairs may have a taller backrest that when reclined the user can sit in a more comfortable position. They are ideal for individuals suffering from medical conditions like severe hip extension and orthostatic hypotension or for people who find it difficult to sit in a fully upright position.
Hemi Height Wheelchair – These wheelchairs come with a hemi-height dual axle that can be adjusted to accommodate your desired height. To ensure maximum comfort and ease of mobility, it features a seat where the seat-to-floor height can be adjusted if the user is going to propel the wheelchair with their feet.
Wheelchair stretcher- They are lightweight chairs that can be used as a regular wheelchair and can recline 180 degrees, turning into a stretcher.
Commode or shower wheelchair – Also known as bathroom wheelchairs, a shower wheelchair has been designed to provide support to individuals with limited mobility or disabilities take a shower independently and safely. Whereas, a commode wheelchair features a hole in the seat that can be used as a toilet seat and also as a standalone commode.
Wheelchair Weight – Manual
Bariatric Wheelchair - Often referred to as a heavy duty wheelchair or extra wide wheelchair, it has been designed for obese individuals or patients. It's features include - increased weight capacities; heavy duty supports and wider widths to fit the person’s needs.
Heavy duty wheelchair - It comes with extra wide seats and a sturdy frame designed to carry weight of up to 700 pounds.
Lightweight Wheelchair – The most commonly used wheelchairs, these chairs have been designed for users that require it on a daily basis. A lightweight manual wheelchair with sturdy frames, these can be folded and stored or transported easily.
Ultra lightweight Wheelchair - These wheelchairs feature a compact design that are ideal for individuals who require a lightweight, simple wheelchair for short trips. The ultra-lightweight of the wheelchair reduces the physical effort required to lift it and allows for convenient storage and transportation. Frames are manufactured using different ultra-lightweight materials like aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber.
To know more & make an informed decision, refer our Wheelchair Buying Guide
Manual Wheelchairs Online - Based on Manufacturing Material
Aluminum Wheelchair – Most modern wheelchair frames are made primarily using aluminum because they tend to be lightweight and also offer extremely high mechanical strength. Aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, thus reducing the overall weight of the wheelchair, and it is also resistant to corrosion.
Titanium Wheelchair – Because of its high strength-to-weight ratio, titanium is being used to construct ultralight manual wheelchairs, to reduce the overall weight. The material offers good mechanical strength, and it is also resistant to corrosion.
Carbon Fiber Wheelchair – Carbon fiber is lightweight and has a high strength to weight ratio and is corrosion resistant. Moreover, resistance to fatigue in carbon fiber composites is high and it has a high tensile strength.
Steel Wheelchair - The frames and some other components are fabricated using steel but tend to be a lot heavier than other metals, making it harder to propel or push on a daily basis. They are most commonly referred to as “outdated wheelchairs” because of its heavy weight which makes it harder to store, transport and fold.
Wheelchair Parts & Accessories
Push handles - Push handles are an important addition to wheelchairs, that allows an individual to push a wheelchair comfortably, without the risk of injury. The handles are either fixed and not height adjustable or extendable which can be adjusted as per your height.
Wheelchair seat – The seats are designed for posture control, pressure control, stability and comfort of the user. Most wheelchair seats are made with an emphasis on providing a comfortable, relaxed sitting posture. Seat frames usually come with a standard back upholstery.
Backrest – The backrest of a wheelchair is designed to support the back and correct the sitting posture.
Wheelchair armrest - Armrests can be divided into two categories: desk length and full length. Most manual wheelchairs are fit with desk length arms that allow the user to get closer to a desk or table. Full length arms provide extra arm support and usually extend to the front of the seat frame.
Wheelchair cushions – Wheelchair cushions provide optimal comfort for those who spend most of their waking hours in a wheelchair and help prevent pressure sores. Choose from a variety of cushions available like gel, foam or air filled that can be selected as per your requirements.
Wheelchair wheels – Manual wheelchairs have two set of wheels – a pair in the front and a pair at the back. Power wheelchairs on the other hand may comprise of 3 pairs of wheels that include – one drive and two casters. Wheelchair wheels are made up of a tire, rim, spokes (or mags), and a hub.
Spoke Wheels – These wheels are made of metal and look like bicycle wheels that have more than 30 spokes.
Mag Wheels – Made of synthetic material, these types of wheels generally feature less than 10 spokes.
Wheelchair casters – These are the two small wheels fitted at the front of the wheelchair that come in a variety of diameters and widths. Their purpose is to stabilize the chair and makes it easier to maneuver the wheelchair.
Wheelchair Tyres – There are 3 types of tyres available – air filled, solid and foam filled (flat tires) that are filled with air and a semi solid material.
Wheelchair brakes – Brakes help keep the chair stationary to keep the user safe. The most common type of lock used on wheels are the push and pull lock.
Wheelchair Dimensions and Sizes - Selecting right Wheelchairs
It is important to understand the physical needs of the intended user and level of mobility, while selecting a wheelchair.
Different conditions can dictate the type of wheelchair you will need, depending on your needs and level of mobility. Therefore, seek advice from a healthcare professional before buying a wheelchair.
Basic measurements required to choose the best available wheelchair –
Seat Width – The seat should be wide enough to accommodate the hips and must be measured with two extra inches to determine the width of the seat.
Seat Depth - Measure from the back of the hips to the back of the knees. Then subtract approximately one or two inches to offer optimal support, stability and pressure distribution.
Seat to Floor Height – When calculating seat to floor height, there are a number of things to take into consideration – ground clearance, cushion thickness and more. Measure the distance from the back of the knee to the heel.
Armrest Height – To measure the correct height, the user should be seated in a comfortable position, with the elbow placed at a ninety-degree angle. Then measure the distance between the elbow to the seat of the chair.
Backrest Height – The height of the backrest depends on the needs of the user and must be measured accordingly. Ensure the individual can sit in the chair comfortably and then measure the distance from the hips to the shoulder.
Footrest length – Two types of footrest exist- swing away and elevating. The length must be measured correctly to ensure that the feet don’t dangle or aren’t too cramped. Measure from the edge of the seat upholstery to the top front of the footrest.
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