Help Choosing a Wheelchair
Choosing a wheelchair for your needs is a daunting task. Especially if the cause of your need is new and you’re unfamiliar with the terminology of different parts and features. To start with, here is a brief explanation of the differences between a Standard Wheelchair and a Transport Chair.
- Wheelchairs can be self-propelled by the user and/or by their caregiver.
- Wheelchairs have large 24” rear wheels that allow the user to roll along using their arms.
- Wheelchairs have locking brakes that are under the user’s control.
- Wheelchairs come under many different configurations to help give the user a more comfortable fit and a more user- friendly control.
- Wheelchairs are overall heavier and require more upper-body strength to be propelled by the user and to fold and load by the caregiver.
- Transport Chairs have smaller rear wheels (usually about 8”) and the user cannot propel it. The user will need the assistance of a caregiver.
- Transport Chairs are compact and normally more narrow which allows easier maneuverability in tight spaces.
- Transport Chairs are much lighter and require less strength to fold and load.
- Transport Chairs have brakes that are out of reach of the user. A caregiver must operate the chair.
- Transport Chairs come with their own set of features that are somewhat unique to their purpose.
In our experience as family caregivers, we found the need to have both the standard wheelchair and the transport chair. The standard wheelchair benefited the user with a more comfortable fit. The transport chair benefited the caregiver who had to fold and load the chair when traveling (thus the name “transport chair”).
When you decide which type of chair you want, you’ll need to do further research into the size and features needed to achieve a “best-fit”. Soliciting the aid of a Physical Therapist is a good idea at this point. They will be able to evaluate the user and then give you guidance in choosing your perfect chair.
To learn more about the particulars of a standard wheelchair and how they adjust to the user’s size, read my article “7 Steps to a Best-Fit Wheelchair”.
I welcome your comments,
Here is a great video on wheelchair choices.