Choosing A Wheelchair
For manual mobility products, we supply a select set of products, with each designed to cater for a specific need - this saves on deciding between several different similar models of wheelchair. Despite this, sourcing a wheelchair for the first time can still be a daunting prospect. We have put together the following guide to help you make an informed decision as to the type of equipment you may require. Before choosing a wheelchair, you must assess your various needs. By asking yourself a few questions you can gain a clearer view of the equipment that would suit you. Below are a few questions that might be of use.
Do you require your equipment for indoor and outdoor uses?
All our manual wheelchairs come with solid, puncture resistant tyres and large wheels at the back for a smoother ride. This allows them to be used more easily outdoors.
If a wheelchair is going to be used indoors check to make sure it will fit through all the required doors. Our standard wheelchairs are designed to fit through regular doorways. However, the wider Heavy User and Bariatric wheelchairs may not fit through some doorways, whilst those with particularly narrow doors may find that even our standard wheelchairs are a tight fit.
Will you need to transport your equipment in the car?
All our manual wheelchairs, with the exception of Tilt in Space wheelchairs, can be folded for transport. Once folded down a wheelchair is likely to fit in the boot of most cars, however for small cars it may be worth selecting a wheelchair with quick release wheels. The weight of the wheelchair should also be considered for ease of lifting in and out of the car; a lightweight wheelchair should weigh under 15kgs.
Our Bariatric wheelchair is notably heavier, being made of sturdy steel instead of lightweight aluminium, and is also larger. It will therefore not fit into the boots of some smaller cars.
All our manual wheelchairs are "crash-tested", meaning they are suitable for occupied transportation in a suitably adapted vehicle.
Where can the equipment be stored?
If storage space is an issue, look for a wheelchair that folds down to take up as little space as possible when not in use.
Do you require either or both your legs to be elevated?
Some wheelchairs have the capacity to elevate your legs for maximum comfort and support. If this is required make sure the leg extensions are adjustable to fit your legs as required, and so that you can change the angle of the legrest when needed. If you are not sure whether you need to keep your leg elevated or not, you will need to consult your medical professional.
An alternative to an elevated leg rest wheelchair is either the Orthopaedic Leg Trolley or the Knee Scooter. These are ideal for people with foot or ankle conditions, and more information on them can be found here.
Will you have someone to push you?
All are wheelchairs are designed so they can be pushed. If you won’t always have someone there, you should look towards a self-propelling wheelchair to help move independently, though bear in mind that most people do not have the upper body strength to self-propel for any great distance. Even if you are not looking to propel yourself, a self-propelled wheelchair allows you to change the direction you are facing in social situations.
Wheelchair powerpacks ease the strain of pushing, ideal if you wish to take someone out for longer distances. They can be fitted to most of our adult wheelchairs.
How often will you be using the wheelchair in everyday life?
Some wheelchairs are designed to be used permanently, and likewise some are to be used for a few hours a day. Be sure to select the right type to give you the maximum comfort for the right price. Standard folding wheelchairs are normally recommended for up to four hours use a day; if the wheelchair will be used for most of the day a more advanced wheelchair should be sourced.
For those needing to spend all day in a wheelchair, and with little ability to shift their position, a Tilt in Space wheelchair is likely to be ideal.
Do you need to be able to transfer to and from your equipment from the side?
Some wheelchairs have removable or swing away armrests to allow side transfer, however many wheelchairs have rigid armrests and therefore do not allow side transfer. Our Elevated Leg Rest wheelchairs, Heavy User wheelchairs, Bariatric wheelchairs, Children's wheelchairs and Tilt in Space wheelchairs all allow for side transfer.
Do you have a medical condition that requires a specialist wheelchair?
Seek advice from an Occupational Therapist as to the specifics of the wheelchair that your disability requires.
What weight is the user?
Standard wheelchairs normally have a weight limit of around 18 stone. Above this weight a specialist bariatric wheelchair will be required. Wheelchairs also come in a variety of seat widths, with 18 inch being the most common. If a user is particularly slight, a narrower wheelchair will offer more support and also allow for easier manoeuvrability, especially when indoors.
Do I need a self-propelling or transit wheelchair?
Self-propel wheelchairs have the large wheels on the back allowing the user to propel themselves for short distances. If the user will not be propelling themselves a self propelled wheelchair can often still be the right choice. If the wheelchair will be used outside and on uneven terrain the large wheels make pushing the wheelchair much easier and more comfortable. When in the wheelchair the large wheels also allow the user to change the direction they are facing. If a wheelchair user will not be propelling themselves, is not capable of changing the direction they face and will only be using the chair on smooth flat surfaces then a transit wheelchair may be more suitable, but if it is to be used outdoors for any period of time, then a self-propelling wheelchair would be more appropriate.
If after reading this guide, you need further assistance in choosing which mobility equipment would be best for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact our customer services team who will be able discuss your options with you.