The Many Types of Wheelchairs

The Ultimate Wheelchair Buying Guide

Feeling like you don’t have enough information to buy the right wheelchair online? Then, you’ve landed in the right spot.

According to CDC statistics, about 61 million adults in the US live with some disability, with 14% of them having severe mobility issues. This points to the higher demand for mobility-related technologies across the US.

Why Buy a wheelchair

Types of Wheelchairs

Things to Consider When Buying a Wheelchair

Chooseing Right Size

Wheelchairs take the largest market share of mobility assistive technologies, with the National Center for Biotechnology Information estimating the number of wheelchair users in the US to be 2.7million in 2015. You expect the figure to have increased immensely five years later.

With many options being available in online, picking the right wheelchair may be tricky for first-time buyers. Nonetheless, having the right information will save you from common after-sale frustrations.

In this guide, we’ve outlined how a wheelchair can streamline your life and the essentials of choosing a wheelchair, among other aspects worth remembering. Seems interesting? Read on.

Why Buy a Wheelchair

A wheelchair enhances movement incredibly. It’s designed to fit in tight spaces, making it ideal for day-to-day usage at home and in public places.

The majority of transport services around the USA are wheelchair accessible, so users don’t have to spend a fortune on alternative means to have a moment away from their homes.

A wheelchair also offers independence. You can move around your home while undertaking your daily activities, even with limited mobility. A motorized wheelchair takes this notion further with ease of use and less fatigue.

With a wheelchair, it’s easy to take part in social activities, which are integral to mental and physical health. You can visit the local park or head to the local shops and gallery, rather than stay holed up in your home.

The impact of a wheelchair on the user’s health cannot be underestimated. Besides increasing the physical activity level, an appropriate wheelchair coupled with ample usage training, can help prevent the progress of deformities, and relieve pressure sores and other issues associated with bad posture.

Whereas certain health conditions can necessitate the permanent use of a wheelchair, the device can also offer temporary help, especially if you are recovering from an operation or injury.

Types of Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs online are available in various kinds, with varying features and benefits. All wheelchairs, however, are classified into two broad categories: manual and powered wheelchairs.

Manual Wheelchairs

A manual wheelchair can be self-propelled or attendant-propelled.

As the name suggests, a self-propelled chair allows you to propel yourself with no one’s help. Typically, they come with larger back wheels and push rims that make it easy for the user to maneuver the way around places.

The device is also equipped with push handles that allow an attendant to push the chair occupant, when necessary.

When scouring for a manual self-propelled wheelchair in San Diego, you are more likely to encounter a standard chair designed for durability and long-term use.

An upgrade to the heavier wheelchair is the lightweight and ultra-lightweight manual wheelchairs that are built with light materials to ease transportation and storage. Uniquely suited for regular outgoers, these machines are usually foldable and equipped with removable and adjustable components.

Ergonomic chairs are built to relieve pressure and lower and upper back strains. They can also incorporate cushions protected with a microbe shield to keep away bacteria, contamination, and odor.

An attendant-propelled wheelchair, also known as transit or transport chair, is an excellent pick for a user without enough strength to push the rims. It has small wheels to increase portability, but the occupant cannot reach or push them for self-propulsion. It’s therefore super important to determine the availability of your caregiver before buying this kind of wheelchair.

Power Wheelchairs or Electric Wheelchairs

Powered by a rechargeable battery and motor, an electric or motorized wheelchair is an incredible tool for minimizing manual input and increasing independence. A jolly stick on the armrest enables you to control the machine’s direction and speed. The motor eases navigation on sloppy surfaces.

Power is delivered to one set of wheels while the remaining pair offers stability. Resultantly, motorized chairs are classified as back-, mid-, or front-wheel, depending on the location of the powered wheels.

You can also have your chair customized at a supplier shop to suit your ergonomic and convenience needs.

Things to Consider When Buying a Wheelchair Online

Buying a wheelchair is a significant investment. This points to the need to deliberate about several factors to get equipment that suits your needs and preferences.

Keep in mind the following considerations during your next purchase for of a wheelchair online.

Features

Wheels

When studying the elements of a wheelchair, first check its wheels. Wheelchair casters can swivel in every possible direction and usually have solid tires.

The rear wheels can be pneumatic or solid. Solid tires are puncture-resistant but offer a relatively rougher ride. Although pneumatic tires are excellent shock absorbers, they are more susceptible to punctures than their solid counterparts.

By incorporating a quick-release button, most rear wheels can be removed quickly to reduce the overall size and ease transportation of the wheelchair.

If you intend to use your wheelchair on slippery surfaces or during winter, the traction of the tires is something you don’t want to overlook.

Footrest

Pay special attention to the footrests, of which most can swing outwards while some can turn both inwards and outwards. Swing-away footplates give you room to stand in front of your chair without stepping over the plates.

Elevating footrests are essential if there’s a need to keep your legs straight or raise them for a more extended period. You might consider removable footrests if the weight and size are a great deal when transporting and storing your chair.

 

 

Armrest

Remember to check the armrests installed on your choice of a wheelchair. Although armrests offer significant arm support during rests and movements, they can bring in hurdles during sideways transfers. For this reason, most wheelchairs have detachable or flip-up armrests.

The standard armrest height can prevent good access to a table. Swing-up-arm and half-arm wheelchairs can help eliminate the hassle. Height-adjustable armrests can, however, save you plenty of hurdles associated with regular counterparts.

Self-propelled chair or manual wheelchair

A manual wheelchair can be self-propelled or attendant-propelled.

As the name suggests, a self-propelled chair allows you to propel yourself with no one’s help. Typically, they come with larger back wheels and push rims that make it easy for the user to maneuver the way around places.

The device is also equipped with push handles that allow an attendant to push the chair occupant, when necessary.

When scouring for a manual self-propelled wheelchair online, you are more likely to encounter a standard chair designed for durability and long-term use.

 

Lightweight Wheelchairs

An upgrade from the heavier wheelchair is the lightweight and ultra-lightweight manual wheelchairs that are built with light materials to ease transportation and storage. Uniquely suited for regular outgoers, these machines are usually foldable and equipped with removable and adjustable components.

Ergonomic chairs are built to relieve pressure and lower and upper back strains. They can also incorporate cushions protected with a microbe shield to keep away bacteria, contamination, and odor.

Transport Wheelchairs

An attendant-propelled wheelchair, also known as transit or transport chair, is an excellent pick for a user without enough strength to push the rims. It has small wheels to increase portability, but the occupant cannot reach or push them for self-propulsion. It’s therefore super important to determine the availability of your caregiver before buying this kind of wheelchair.

Ease of Storage and Transportation

As much as a wheelchair enhances your mobility, consider the ease of transporting or storing the machine. This is usually determined by the weight of the materials and the availability of removable components.

Pushing or lifting a bulky chair requires considerable energy. Conversely, a foldable, lightweight wheelchair is easy to handle, takes less storage space, and can easily be stashed in the boot of a vehicle for seamless transportation.

All in all, leave the wheelchair shop with equipment that suits your logistics preferences.

Size and Weight Capacity

Size remains a critical factor in wheelchair selection. You want to avoid a situation where customers pick mobility equipment with excellent features but in the wrong size.

Several measurements factor in the overall size of a wheelchair, including the dimensions of the features discussed earlier. A section in this guide will shed light on important wheelchair dimensions.

Note that each wheelchair has a maximum weight capacity, so ensure that your choice is robust enough to accommodate your weight.

Comfort

Comfort becomes a critical consideration when buying a wheelchair for daily use. A key determinant of comfort in a wheelchair is the seat, mainly made of vinyl or nylon. Some chairs take the notion of comfort a notch further by offering cushioned seats.

Pick a chair that offers you optimum head and back support, primarily if an existing medical condition influences the amount of support you require. If you require a lot of support, a tilt wheelchair that can be adjusted to more comfortable positions may be what you need.

Vendor Reputation

Least of your expectations when buying a wheelchair, are unexplained shipping delays, poor customer support, and products with defects. That’s why it’s essential to check the reputation of a vendor before purchasing equipment from them.

A glance at customer reviews on the supplier’s website and social media pages could be the only difference between frustrations and a fulfilling buying process. You want to see if the vendor responds to customer concerns and how they handle complaints. Also, check whether customers were satisfied with the services offered.

Considerations for the Right Wheelchair Size

The right seat gives you enough room to be comfortable, but not so wide that you can’t support your arms with the armrests.

A seat that’s too narrow feels uncomfortable and exposes you to the risk of pressure sores. If the seat is too broad, often, you may need to lean on one side for support.

Standard seat widths for wheelchairs in San Diego are 16 inches, 18 inches, and 20 inches, with 18 inches being the most common size.

Seat Depth

The seat depth is measured from the back of your shin to the back of your pelvis when sitting straight on the wheelchair.

A very short seat offers little support to the thighs, thus transferring lots of pressure to the hips. If the seat is too long, you don’t get enough back support and may experience constant pressure on the knees.

Seat to Floor Height

With the right seat-to-floor height, it’s easy to place your feet on the floor, use tables, desks, and countertops, and reach shelves.

A height that’s too low results in issues such as awkward transfers, inability to reach higher shelves, and footrests dragging on the floor

A seat that’s too high makes it difficult to pick things off the floor, get close enough to tables and desks, and transfer out and into the wheelchair.

If you cannot propel a wheelchair with your hands, your feet are the next mobility option. Here, the seat-floor height should be low enough so you can plant your feet on the ground firmly and propel yourself.

Armrest Height

The armrests are designed to support the occupant’s arms with minimal stress. However, if they are too low, you may have to lean on one side for support, and if they are too high, your shoulders will hunch. Adding a cushion to the seat can help solve problems associated with overly high armrests.

The armrest height should be least of your worries when buying a wheelchair with adjustable armrests.

Backrest Height

The ideal wheelchair backrest height is the length between the seat and the user’s collarbone when sitting straight on the chair.

Most wheelchairs have a fixed backrest height, with their level of cushioning varying with the price. You can, however, extend backrest height with optional accessories to get more support. Chairs with adjustable backrests are also available but at a higher cost.

The Basics of Taking Care of a Wheelchair

When it comes to wheelchair maintenance, think about regular cleaning and inspections.
You don’t require expensive products to clean your mobility equipment. With warm water and soap solution, wire brush, and some microfiber towels, you are good to go. Start with removing the back cushion, seat, and other fabrics and subsequently brush off dirt on the chair grooves using the wire brush. Alternatively, you can use a compressed air duster.

Dip a towel in the solution and clean every surface of your equipment, including the backrest, seat, wheels, spokes, and frame. You can use a cleanser to improve the glossy appearance of the wheels and remove stains from your cushions. Re-assemble the wheelchair when all parts are dry.

Run regular inspections to maintain the optimal condition of your wheelchair.
A standard maintenance procedure is checking the wheels. Press the tires to gauge their pressure. The tires should feel firm; otherwise, add air using a bicycle pump. Ensure that the rear and front wheels spin without producing sounds or wobbling.

Check the tires for wears and punctures. Replace worn-out tires and have the puncture fixed at a wheelchair repair shop in San Diego.

Next, inspect the brakes. Wheelchair brakes become inefficient when they are inappropriately adjusted or installed or when the tires have minimal pressure. Remember to tighten loose parts of the wheels, including bolts and spokes, using a wrench.

Check the frame for cracks and dents. Cracks can compromise the structural integrity of your wheelchair. It’s, therefore, imperative to weld the cracked part as soon as possible. Use a screwdriver or wrench to tighten any loose bolt or nut on your chair.

Make sure there are no sharp or rough areas and rough edges on the armrests, footrests, and hand rims to prevent potential injuries to yourself and others. Smooth rough or sharp parts with a file.

Replace worn out or saggy seat fabric to prevent pressure sores and check cushion seats for firmness.
Regularly lubricate all moving parts of your wheelchair, including the moving parts of the wheels and the folding mechanism, to minimize friction and wear.