Choosing a wheel chair does not have to be a difficult task. Here you will learn about the basic features of a wheel chair. Follow our guide to make this an easy and educating experience. Please Note: Ultralight and Sports Wheel chairs often require additional measurements and fitting.
Choosing your Manual Wheelchair type
There are two basic types of Manual Wheel Chairs: Standard Wheel Chairs and Transport Wheel Chairs. Standard wheel chairs are most often propelled by the user himself, but can also be pushed by a companion. Standard wheel chairs are distinguished by the two large wheels in back and two small ‘caster’ wheels in front. Transport wheel chairs, on the other hand, cannot be propelled by the user, only by a companion. Instead of large rear wheels, all four wheels are of the smaller ‘caster’ type.
Choosing Wheelchair Weight
The lighter the wheel chair, the easier it is for a user to push uphill and the easier it is for a companion to lift up stairs or place in a car trunk. Choose a weight according to your personal needs and budget, while bearing in mind the advantage of a lighter weight wheel chair.
Choosing Weight Capacity
Standard wheel chairs generally have a 250 lb. weight capacity. If the user requires a stronger chair, heavy-duty or “bariatric” wheel chairs can support up to 500 lbs.
Choosing Seat Size
Seat size is measured in width and depth. Most wheel chairs come in several sizes but the standard size is 18 inches wide by 16 inches deep (18″ x 16″). For an accurate measurement: lay a tape measure down, sit on top, and measure the distance from hip to hip. Add an additional 1″ to 2″ on each side to ensure proper comfort, for example while wearing a heavy coat or bulky clothes. Seat depth is measured from the back of the seat to 1″ to 2″ behind the knee.
Choosing a Seat Height
Seat height is the measurement from floor to seat. If the wheel chair seat is too low the user’s feet may drag. If the seat is too high, the user may have a difficult time exiting the wheel chair. To measure proper seat to floor height, have the user sit upright and measure the length from the heel to bend in knee. Add 1″ or 2″ for clearance & subtract the thickness of your cushion. Seat cushions are strongly recommended, especially for users who are likely to spend any significant amount of time in their wheel chair.
Armrests provide arm and shoulder support. There are 4 types: “Fixed” or “Permanent”, Adjustable, Removable, and Flip-Back. Some armrests are a combination of types, such as Adjustable Removable armrests. “Fixed” or “Permanent “armrests cannot be adjusted or removed. Adjustable armrests, on the other hand, can be adjusted to different heights. Removable and Flip-Back armrests can be moved out of the user’s way to allow for easy transfer in and out of the wheel chair. Armrests also come in two lengths, Full Length and Desk Length. Desk Length armrests are shorter in length and allow the user to sit closer to a table or desk.
Choosing Footrests / Legrests
Footrests and Legrests are the two basic types of support for a wheel chair user’s legs. Legrests elevate and therefore include a Calf Pad. This enables a wheel chair user to raise or lower their legs and lock the legrests in a desired elevation. Footrests provide leg support in a seated position and do not elevate. Both are available in Swing-Away. These may be tucked out of the way from their position directly in front of the wheel chair. This allows for unobstructed access to and from the wheel chair seat.