Features to Look for in a Manual Wheelchair
When purchasing a manual wheelchair, there are many features to consider. Customizing the wheelchair based on weight, chair size, weight capacity and seat widths are important for comfort and durability. Is your wheelchair intended for outdoor or indoor use? Do you need it to fold into a trunk? What is the cost, and does it have a warranty? Do you need a reclining back, removable armrests, adjustable footrests or swing-away footrests? These are all good questions to ask. Below is a list of the options available to consumers in the market for a manual wheelchair.
Types of Manual Wheelchairs
Manual wheelchairs typically have large rear wheels, footrests and armrests. Footrests can come with the capabilities to swing away, be removed or elevated. Armrests can be permanent, removable, full-length or desk-length. A standard wheelchair can weigh 35 or more pounds. Lighter wheelchairs are manufactured, but are often more expensive.
A chair’s dimensions are important to consider. Seat width and height vary to accommodate people of all sizes. The standard width is 17 to 19 inches, but wider seat widths are also sold. Narrow seat sizes can come between 15 to 17 inches. Pediatric wheelchair seats are even smaller, but can typically support up to 250 pounds. In terms of seat height, the standard size works for those over 5 feet tall. Those under or over 5 feet, may require short or tall versions.
A standard transport chair is lightweight, foldable and smaller in seat dimensions. While these wheelchairs can support up to 300 pounds, they are not intended for everyday use. Rear wheels often smaller than a basic wheelchair, at around 8 inches. Like desk-length armrests in basic manual wheelchairs, these armrests are shorter to fit under a table.
Heavy-duty transport chairs have slightly larger wheels, bigger seat sizes and can support a weight capacity of 400 pounds. However, the wheelchair itself should not weigh more than 35 pounds. Recliners are considered heavy-duty with the ability to handle up to 700 pounds.
Sport wheelchairs are designed for various sports, including rugby, racing, fencing, badminton, cricket, basketball and tennis. Football, unlike some of the other sports, use power chairs, rather than manual wheelchairs. A common feature in most sport wheelchairs are angled wheels for easy maneuvering and speed. Racing chairs generally have a front wheel and two in the back. Some are even propelled through a handcycle. All-rounder wheelchairs are lightweight and used can be used for many sports.
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