Purchasing a wheelchair is a big decision, there are so many different types out there it can be hard to know where to start looking. A wheelchair is not a symbol of a disability, it is a vehicle to liberation, freedom and independence, its there to enhance your life and enable you to “Live Life” the way you want to live it.
Wheelchairs can be likened to shoes, they help you get around, and there are many distinct styles. Such as sports wheelchairs, trail use wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, ridged frame or folding frame, the list goes on. To ensure you will get maximum usage and function from the wheelchair, it is important to get the right fit.
There are three main questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a wheelchair:
- What are your goals? What are you wanting to be able to achieve in a new wheelchair.
- Where will the wheelchair be mostly used? Eg. Inside, in a city environment, or on a farm.
- What is my level of capability?
Standard Manual Wheelchairs
Manual wheelchairs are typically used by people that have relatively good upper body strength, as they self-propel by pushing the wheels with their hands. There are two different styles of standard manual wheelchairs, rigid or folding. The main differences are, a rigid frame chair is stronger, and transfers more of the rider’s energy into the forward motion then a folding chair. However, if you travel a lot and need something that is compact and can fit in to small cars etc. a folding chair may be a more practical option. Some advantages of manual wheelchairs are:
- They are usually lightweight
- Can fit into small places, so good for around the house
- Some are foldable for easy transport
- You have the ability to add power (See below)
- Have the ability to add on custom seating
- There are many designs and colours to choose from, which enables the user to display their personality.
- Highly customisable
Power Ad on’s
If you are looking for a chair that will provide you with the benefits of a manual chair, but don’t have quite the strength to self-propel, or wear out quickly, a power assist is what you need. A power assist is a small powerful motor that can be attached to a manual wheelchair. There are a range of different power ad on’s depending on what you want to achieve. A wheelchair users range will increase dramatically using the assist, saving personal energy. Explore power ad on’s here https://activerehab.net.au/product-category/wheelchairs/wheelchair-accessories/
Tilt in Space Manual Wheelchairs
Tilt in space wheelchairs are great for users that are in their chairs for long periods of time, the tilt function allows the pressure to be distributed to different areas of the body, which reduces the risk of skin sores. They also increase comfort and tolerance in sitting. Tilt in space chairs are usually provided for very complex clients, that often need to be pushed by others. Some advantages of a tilt in space manual chair are:
- Most of them are folding which is great for traveling
- Great for people with extremely complex seating needs
- High comfort
- Many available accessories for carer and client needs
- Highly customisable, including a huge range of colour options
A powerchair can open up a whole new world of possibilities and independence, some users have both a power and manual wheelchair as the two chairs are very different and some clients need the advantage of both. Power wheelchairs provide a feeling of superior support to the user as there is little effort needed to move around. A person that can’t push a manual chair, or has limited upper body movement is likely to need a powerchair. wheelchair.
There are many different powerchairs available. However, there are three main styles. Mid wheel drive, front wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Mid wheel drive has the smallest turning circle, so is by far the most common. Some advantages of powerchairs are:
- Ability to have custom seating
- Quick and easy to manoeuvre, requires little or no effort
- Easy movement on difficult terrain, such as farmland and bush
- The ability to have power elevation this allows users to reach high places such as a kitchen cupboards or supermarket shelves.
- Power tilt, this is great for users that spend a long time in the chair, allowing them to relieve pressure areas
- Power Recline, this enables the user to tilt the backrest back.
- Possible stand up function
- High comfort
- Highly customisable
Choosing a wheelchair can be a huge task, we hope this blog helped you to understand the main differences and purposes of different types of wheelchairs. We highly recommend that you work through the choosing process with a therapist if you are looking at getting a wheelchair. They will help you decide what best suits your needs.
Feel free to give us a call 03 5441 8966 to have a chat.