15 Types of Wheelchairs and the Differences Between Them

Types of Wheelchairs in Real World Setting

Did you know that there are an estimated 75 million people across the world that depend on a wheelchair for mobilisation?

Whether you’re in the market for a new wheelchair or you’ve recently found your mobility compromised, learning about the different types of wheelchairs available can help you to choose the best type of wheelchair for your lifestyle. It’s completely natural to want to find the best type of wheelchair that fits your individual needs, while also matching with your durability and functionality preferences.

Are you struggling to narrow down your selection of wheelchairs to just one option? We’re here to help you break down the best wheelchair for you, based on your budget, needs, and style. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is the Main Purpose of Wheelchairs?

The main purpose for someone to use a wheelchair is because they require the medical device. Wheelchairs are considered a piece of durable medical equipment.

Wheelchairs are used to transport individuals that have mobility problems or the elderly. A wheelchair will help to provide the disabled or elderly individual to achieve a greater level of independence and mobility.

Manual vs Electric Wheelchairs

The first decision you’re going to have to make is deciding between a manual and an electric wheelchair.

For manual wheelchairs to move, they depend on the momentum provided by someone pushing your wheelchair or you using your arms to push your wheels forward. An electric wheelchair uses a battery for its source of power while using a joystick to move forward in a specific direction.

Both electric and manual wheelchairs offer their own list of unique advantages and disadvantages to each other. An individual may choose one type of wheelchair over another because of the options that one type of model may come equipped with.

For individuals that need extra bases attached to a wheelchair, such as respirators because of a severe disability, and electric wheelchair may offer more comfort over a manual wheelchair.

However, electric wheelchairs tend to be a lot more expensive than manual wheelchairs. This is because there is a lot more maintenance, repairs, and electrical components that are required to make an electric wheelchair operate efficiently.

Manual wheelchairs are a lot more affordable than electric wheelchairs. However, you have customised options, such as a cup holder, added to a manual wheelchair as you can with an electric wheelchair.

What Are They Different Types of Wheelchairs?

Now that you understand that there are differences between electric and manual wheelchairs, we can take a deeper dive into all of the different types of wheelchairs that are offered on the market. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of wheelchairs that you can find:

1. Electric Wheelchairs

Electric wheelchairs are the most popular type of wheelchair because of the increased level of independence that they provide users. For individuals that use an electric wheelchair, they don’t have to rely on a family member, an assistant, or a nurse to help them get around. The only reason why someone in an electric wheelchair may need some assistance is to have help switching in and out of the chair.

Once placed inside the chair, an individual with an electric wheelchair can easily move around. Electric wheelchairs are one of the best types of wheelchairs to invest in for people who have conditions that cause severe mobility restriction.

The biggest downfall to electric wheelchairs is that they are a lot more expensive the manual wheelchairs. However, the additional cost that comes with electric wheelchairs offers a great payoff for people that have mobility problems.

So if you or your loved one that has a particular condition that requires customisations and adaptation for a wheelchair, you can do so with an electric wheelchair.

2. Manual Wheelchairs

When that you say the word ‘wheelchair’, the manual wheelchair is what most people envision when you mention the word. This is the most commonly found manual wheelchairs inside of nursing homes and hospitals, because it is the least expensive type of mobility device on the market.

While many people who tend to use manual wheelchairs do happen to be elderly, they aren’t the optimal choice for this group of people. Many older people don’t have the upper body strength is needed to propel themselves forward, so they depend on other people to move them around.

Instead of having to rely on another person to move your loved one around, you could invest in a motorized wheelchair to give you a loved one increased level of independence. A motorized wheelchair relies on a battery, so you left one won’t have to worry about pushing themselves or having someone else push them for them to get around.

However, if you decide that a manual wheelchair is the best option for yourself or your loved one, you can look into different categories of manual wheelchairs.

Some common types of categories of manual wheelchairs include:

  • Heavy duty
  •  Reclining
  •  Pediatric
  •  Lightweight
  •  Sports
  •  Transport

These different categories of manual wheelchairs can help you to find the best type of manual wheelchair for your loved one without having to spend thousands of pounds and a customized mobility device.

3. Beach Wheelchairs

Beach wheelchairs are a highly specialized type of a wheelchair and aren’t commonly known about in the public eye. Beach wheelchairs use hollow aluminium tubes to make large wheels. Many people believe that the wheels on a beach wheelchair are cartoonishly large, but the size of these wheels is what makes it easy for the wheelchair to travel across the sand.

4. Transport Wheelchairs

Transport wheelchairs, also known as companion wheelchairs or transit wheelchairs, are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for short trips or outings. Transport wheelchairs require a companion to push them, and can’t be operated independently.

Transport wheelchairs have smaller rear wheels, which make them easier to maneuver in tight spaces and navigate through doorways. They are also equipped with comfortable padded seats and armrests.

Transport wheelchairs provide a practical and convenient solution for individuals with limited mobility who need assistance getting from one place to another while maintaining comfort and ease of use.

5. Bariatric Wheelchairs

Bariatric wheelchairs are another type of chair. This type of wheelchair is designed specifically for those who struggle with mobility due to their weight and other physical limitations.

What sets a bariatric wheelchair apart from other types of manual models is because the seat is wider than other types of models. Plus, the frame is able to support a higher amount of weight without bending or breaking.

If you or a loved one have mobility problems because of extreme weight on your body, a bariatric wheelchair can provide you with an increased level of mobility.

6. Pediatric Wheelchairs

Pediatric wheelchairs are used to provide the same functionality that manual and electric wheelchairs provide for adults, but cater to children. Pediatric wheelchairs are a size that can fit those who have a smaller frame.

7. Ergonomic Wheelchairs

If you’ve been handicapped your entire life, you probably know the difference between a comfortable and an uncomfortable wheelchair. If you’re looking to upgrade to a wheelchair that supports your spinal health while still being comfortable, but you should look into investing in an ergonomic wheelchair.

An ergonomic wheelchair provides lumbar support, while still providing the mobility about a standard manual wheelchair provides. While other wheelchairs can have a cushion added to provide the same effect, ergonomic wheelchairs are built with this in mind.

8. Reclining Wheelchairs

Another uncommon type of wheelchair are reclining wheelchairs. Designed to lean back into a recliner, you can recline back in this wheelchair while still being mobile.

Most reclining wheelchairs offer a pillow to increase the comfort when the user is sitting back in a reclined position. In individuals that have any type of spinal cord injury, reclining wheelchair may be a great option.

It would also be great if the user is interested in taking naps in their wheelchair. They won’t have to worry about having to transfer between their wheelchair into a bed.

10. Racing Wheelchairs

Racing wheelchairs are also commonly referred to as sports wheelchairs.

This type of wheelchair has been constructed to have a similar appearance to a standard manual wheelchair. However, the biggest difference is that the racing type of wheelchair will have large rear wheels that are angled inward towards the seat.

The position of the wheels allows for a user to take tighter turns while using their wheelchair. The design of manual wheelchair is great for people that are looking to engage in sports that require them to it move around quickly. Sports which include basketball, tennis and an adjusted form of football are even possible to play in a sports wheelchair.

Racing wheelchairs have two large wheels but will have a single small wheel in the front. This helps the wheelchair to move quickly, allowing users to compete in competitive racing while still remaining in a wheelchair.

11. Single Arm Drive Wheelchairs

One of the biggest downfalls of manual wheelchairs that they require two arms for you to push yourself forward. However, if you only have one arm that you can use to move around, a single-arm drive wheelchair may be an option that you want to look into.

All you need to drive a single-arm drive wheelchair forward is one arm. This is because of the two wheels in a wheelchair are connected by an axle that has been specially shaped for that wheelchair. The specially shaped wheelchair allows users to move forward only using one arm; it still won’t be as expensive as an electric wheelchair is.

12. Tilt Wheelchairs

Have you run across a wheelchair on the market that’s referred to as a tilt wheelchair? The difference between a reclining wheelchair and a tilt wheelchair is the ultimate goal of the model.

While reclining wheelchairs and tilt wheelchairs offer the same benefits, tilt wheelchairs are best for individuals that have cerebral palsy. The entire seated position of a tilt wheelchair tilt backwards, where is a reclining wheelchair allows a patient to lay back and relax.

13. Standing Wheelchairs

Standing wheelchairs are made to be used while the person is standing, or to get someone into a standing position. The majority of standing wheelchair models on the market can be used in both standing and seated positions. Standing wheelchairs are a great option to invest in if you or a loved one have a lot of tasks that are difficult to do in the workplace while sitting down.

14. Ultralight Wheelchairs

Ultralight wheelchairs are a lot lighter than other types of wheelchairs on the market. This is because the majority of ultralight wheelchair models are made with aluminium or carbon fibre, rather them heavier types of metals.

If you are the caregiver for someone that has a mobility problem, an ultra-light wheelchair will be a lot easier for you to move around because it isn’t as heavy as other types of manual wheelchairs. This, for example, can make it easer to get someone in and out of a vehicle.

15. All-terrain Wheelchairs

This type of wheelchair isn’t the most commonly known type of mobility device and is partly because they are a niche product.

All-terrain wheelchairs offer large inflated tires that have deep treads. This allows the wheelchair to travel over any type of terrain, with little difficulty. Some all-terrain wheelchairs may even come with tank tracks, making it easier for the wheels to travel over rough and uneven territory.

All-terrain wheelchairs are perfect for people who enjoy being outdoors but have recently lost their mobility. The individual won’t have to give up their sense of adventure or their favourite outdoor activity because of their mobility problem.

Discovering the Best Types of Wheelchairs for Your Loved One

There are many different types of wheelchairs on the market, and discovering the best one for yourself or your loved one can be overwhelming. By learning about all of the different types that you can find on the market and the different components that each one offers can help you to narrow down your selections.

Are you interested in speaking with a representative about any questions related to your wheelchair search? We are here to help you find it the best model for your needs.

Browse Our Range of Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs (18)

Electric Wheelchairs (7)

Kids Wheelchairs (2)

Manual Wheelchairs (9)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *