What You Need to Know When Buying a Wheelchair:
There are many kinds of wheelchairs available. Knowing how to pick the size and type is important when you make your decision. This guide will help you understand the different types of wheelchairs, transport wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs and power wheelchairs, as well as the dimensions and size needed.
Wheelchair Categories: There three main categories of wheelchairs: Transport Wheelchairs, Manual Wheelchairs, and Power Wheelchairs. Each one has different types depending on your individual needs. The most important thing to consider when buying any type of wheelchair is the comfort for the patient and usability. So when choosing your wheelchair make sure the seat width is wide or narrow enough and the weight capacity is going to hold the weight of the person using it. Also another very important factor to consider which a lot of people do not do and that is the actual weight of the wheelchair. This is very important because a lot of caregivers and family members will be picking up and transporting this wheelchair out of the trunk and other areas and will need to be able to handle this weight without injuring themselves.
Transport Wheelchairs: These are designed to be propelled by a caregiver. Transport Wheelchairs are most suited for occasional use and travel and are lightweight. Most come with a folding back, smaller wheels and are able to fit easily in the trunk or backseat of a car. Transport Wheelchairs are also perfect for transfer between a shower and toilet to a bed as well as short distances such as a building or vehicle. These transport chairs are becoming the most popular item for caregivers and patients because of the lightweight which makes it a lot easier to get in and out of the car and compact folding design which is ideal when going to the mall, doctor’s appointments and traveling. Most manual wheelchairs with the big wheels in the back weigh between 36-48lbs which can be very heavy for most caregivers. The typical weight on a transport wheelchair starts around 18lbs and goes up to 26lbs which makes it a lot easier to handle and doesn’t cause back injuries to the caregiver.
Standard Manual Wheelchairs: Standard manual wheelchairs are the most frequently bought and used wheelchair and for patients that are non-ambulatory or whom have limited ambulation due to a clinical condition and need help getting around without crutches or a walker. These wheelchairs are mobilized by the occupant using the two large rear wheels, on average ranging in diameter from 20-26 inches. Most models come with push handles to grant non-occupants the ability to propel the chair. Seat widths range between 16 inches and 20 inches and are typically 16 inches deep with some models offering 18 inch seat depths. Commonly weighing between 35 and 48 lbs., standard wheelchairs are the most Popular and inexpensive wheelchairs on the market; featuring arm and footrest options to accommodate the patient more comfortably. Frames on all models can be folded for easy storage and have a weight capacity of 250 to 350 lbs. Equipped with 2 larger rear wheels and 2 smaller front wheels as well as stationary arm rests as well as optional removable leg rests, removable arm rests, padded arm rests, cushioned seat and back, rear wheel brakes, anti-tip bars and elevating footrests. Generally recommended for people who weigh up to 250 lbs, and are able to lift between 36-45 lbs, and are capable of propelling themselves without help. Ultralight Wheelchairs or Lightweight Wheelchairs are also available, constructed from aluminum or titanium and usually weigh about 10 pounds less than Standard Wheelchairs.
Lightweight Wheelchairs: Lightweight wheelchairs have become increasingly popular because of their light weight designs and compact sizes. These wheelchairs typically weigh between 30 and 37 pounds. Additionally, these chairs are easier to propel, control, and maneuver than a standard wheelchair. Lightweight chairs provide maximum independent mobility with a minimal effort. Lightweight wheelchairs may not be suitable for Heavy or obese people due to the lighter weight of the frame that can result in decreased user capacity as compared to standard and heavy duty chairs. Unfortunately, we do not carry ultra light weight wheelchairs due to their steep pricing and special modifications. Lightweight wheelchairs are usually constructed from aluminum, which greatly reduces the overall weight. The Lightweight Wheelchair is preferable for those who need to transport the Wheelchair from place to place and are unable to lift the heavier standard wheelchair models. These wheelchairs vary with every manufacturer, so ensure the total weight is light enough for the user. Lightweight Wheelchair options may also include a variety of colors as well as folding or rigid construction.
Extra Wide or Bariatric Wheelchairs: Bariatric Wheelchairs posses wider seat dimensions, weigh more, but are able to hold a person who weighs more than 300 pounds. Extra Wide or Bariatric Wheelchairs sometimes include extra cushioning and a reclining back for additional comfort. Most bariatric wheelchairs weight between 40-55lbs and have weight capacities up to 1000lbs. The two biggest factors to consider when buying a extra wide wheelchair is 1) the seat width of the wheelchair so there is enough room for the patient to be comfortable when sitting and 2) the overall width of the wheelchair to make sure that it can get through your doorways and rooms in your house. A good rule of thumb is to add about 8-9 inches to the seat width of the wheelchair to get the overall width. So for example if your patient weights 325lbs and you get a bariatric wheelchair with a seat width of 24 inches then you need to make sure that your doorways have at least 32 inches of clearance to get the wheelchair in and out.
Reclining Wheelchairs: Reclining Wheelchairs are made for people who are less mobile and spend more time in a wheelchair. Similar to Standard Wheelchairs, they offer similar features, but have the advantage of a reclining backrest. Caregivers can use the rear mechanism to raise and lower the backrest for the patient's comfort. Reclining backrests can also be adjusted at various angles from the regular 90 degree position to a full 180 degree position. Other options may include padded headrest, detachable arm rests and leg rests, elevated foot rests, anti-tip rails as well as additional cushioning. Reclining wheelchairs usually have weight capacities of between 250-350lbs and can weigh between 43-55lbs. These are very good options for those patients that want to relieve a little bit of the pressure they are putting on their coccyx bone or bottom while sitting in their wheelchair. By reclining the back of the wheelchair you relieve some of that pressure and can help prevent skin breakdown.
Pediatric Wheelchairs: Made for children they are especially designed for smaller frames, the Pediatric Wheelchair can sometimes include a custom logo or image that the child selects and additional cushioning. Pediatric Wheelchairs are more comfortable and smaller than Standard Wheelchairs, and are suited for children who cannot fit into Standard Wheelchairs nor need a smaller Wheelchair to maneuver independently. The overall dimensions including seat size, arm rests, leg rests and wheels are smaller, making it easier to move around for a child whether they are at school, the movies, a store or home.
Power Wheelchairs: Electric wheelchairs are convenient for those who may not be able to utilize a standard wheelchair. There are simple electric wheelchairs that help people such as elderly folks get from place to place, and there are also complex ones for people who have more than just mobility problems but also need things such as tilt and space options.Power-Driven Wheelchairs are designed for those who are unable to operate a Standard Wheelchair or have limited control over hands and legs. Power Wheelchairs come with smaller wheels, increased comfort features, are battery-operated, can be folded or rigid and often weigh more than other Wheelchairs. Electric Wheelchairs can be controlled by hand or through assistive devices.
Most Frequently Asked Questions About Wheelchairs:
- Do the wheelchairs you sell fold? Yes every wheelchair specialty medical supply sells on its website will fold for easier storage or transport.
- Do the wheelchairs you sell come with a warranty? Yes every specific wheelchair product page will show the warranty of the wheelchair and if not or you still have a question about the warranty please call us and we will explain it fully.
- Do all wheelchairs ship for free? Yes every wheelchair we sell will have free ground shipping and come brand new with no assembly.
- Do you charge sales tax on your wheelchairs? No, the only time sales tax is charged is if you are in the state of Ohio.
- Do you rent, bill insurance or medicare if I buy a wheelchair from you? Unfortunately specialty medical does not rent or bill medicare or insurance if you purchase a wheelchair from us.
- How long does it take to receive my wheelchair? Most of the wheelchairs we sell ship within 24 hours from several different locations across the country so a typical delivery is 1-3 days from when you place a order. If you need it quicker or want to make sure it is not a special order wheelchair please call our customer service representatives to answer your questions.