Wheelchairs & Accessories

Wheelchairs and Accessories

Wheelchairs are important mobility aids that can benefit people unable to walk due to injury, illness, or disability. A wheelchair can provide independence and access to activities like work, shopping, travel, and more.

Wheelchair Types

Wheelchairs are divided into two main types:
  • Manual wheelchairs require someone to push from behind or the user to propel the wheels forward on their own. Within this category, there are two different types: standard wheelchairs and transport chairs.
  • Electric wheelchairs move with the help of an electric motor.
  • The type of wheelchair chosen often depends on why you need it, how you plan to use it, and for how long.
  • Standard Wheelchairs vs. Transport Chairs

    Standard wheelchairs and transport chairs have some key differences.

    A transport chair has four small wheels and requires someone to push you in the chair. Transport chairs are also usually very light, so a caregiver can easily move someone around in them. The design makes them easy to fold for travel or storage.

    Standard wheelchairs have larger back wheels with rims to grip so that the user can move independently. They also have handles for someone to push from behind. These chairs weigh more than transport chairs and are usually larger. They fold easily for placement in a vehicle or storage but will take up more space than a transport chair. They provide more independence if you can propel the wheelchair on your own using the rims on the back wheels. T here are three types of standard wheelchairs:

  • Bariatric: Wider seat width (up to 32 inches) and a higher weight capacity (up to 700 pounds for some models) to accommodate someone who needs extra space.
  • Reclining: A higher backrest adjustable to one or more reclined positions. Ideal for someone who cannot sit upright because of injury, illness, or disability. These can also include elevated leg rests for more comfortable positioning.
  • Lightweight: Made of strong but light aluminum so they can be easily pushed, lifted, and stowed in car trunks.
  • How to Choose Your Wheelchair Size

    As many as 80-90% of people in a wheelchair do not have the right fit, which can be uncomfortable and make it harder to use the wheelchair.

    The correct wheelchair meets the 90-90-90 rule. That means a 90-degree bend at the waist, 90-degree bend in the knees, and 90-degree bend at the ankle.

    Measurements to get the right wheelchair should include:

    • Seat wide enough for your hips but not so wide that your arms have to stretch to reach the wheels.
    • Seat depth high enough for your knees to rest slightly above the edge of the seat to avoid blood vessel constriction in the legs.
    • Seatback height should not be too high or too low. Measure from your neck to your pelvis while you are sitting down for an accurate height.
    • Footrest length that keeps feet from dragging on the floor or knees from pushing up too high.
    • Armrest length that provides support for your entire arms without drooping.
    • Weight limits that support your body weight.

    Other Wheelchair Features to Consider Before You Buy

    Additional features to consider when buying a wheelchair include:

    • Safety features – Wheelchairs come with options like safety belts, headrests, and stabilizers to protect someone with limited motor control or stability.
    • Seat design & cushions – Look for ergonomic designs and cushions that provide comfort and prevent pressure sores.
    • Recline and back support – Options to tilt or recline the seat, which can add various levels of comfort.
    • Transportation options – Consider the weight and size of a wheelchair for easy handling and transportation.
    • Leg rests – These offer support for your legs while seated in the chair and come in two styles. Leg rests that swing away make it easier to get in and out of the chair. If your doctor recommends keeping your legs raised, elevated leg rests can keep them comfortable with padded support.
    • Storage – Add accessories like an oxygen cylinder holder, urinary drainage bag, and a cup holder for a functional and comfortable chair.