Should I Get a Power Wheelchair or a Manual Wheelchair?

manual wheelchair

Whether your mobility impairment is temporary or permanent, choosing a wheelchair is one of the most critical decisions you will make to address your issue. Users often select manual wheelchairs because of being easy to transport and electric wheelchairs if they expect to move long distances. While both electric wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs have their benefits, what is most important is selecting the wheelchair type that can address their mobility and need for independence.

What Are Different Types of Manual Wheelchairs?

There are different manual wheelchairs available to address the specific needs of users. To find the suitable manual wheelchair to fit your needs, here are several types to select from:

  • Transport wheelchairs: Transport wheelchairs don’t have the larger wheels typically associated with wheelchairs. Instead, they have two pairs of smaller wheels. Users can’t use these wheelchairs independently. Hence, a caregiver is required to propel the wheelchair. These are best for people who have dementia or who have minimal mobility capability.

  • Bariatric Wheelchair: Bariatric wheelchairs are made of reinforced steel frames and have greater weight capacity than most wheelchair types. They have a pair of large wheels and a pair of small wheels. Its enhanced bracing supports provide stability and comfort for users weighing up to 700 lbs. These are the best heavy-duty wheelchair design, especially for indoor use. Some designs have a wider seat cushion and seat width to provide pressure relief and fit for larger users.

  • Folding manual frame wheelchairs: Folding frame wheelchairs are designed for mobility and are ideal for travel or intermittent use. Their compact size can allow them to fit into the trunk of most cars or can be stowed during air travel. These are also often called travel wheelchairs.

  • Rigid frame manual wheelchairs: These wheelchair types typically cover all wheelchairs that can’t be folded. These wheelchairs are designed for maximum carrying capacity and are not intended for transport.

  • Lightweight manual wheelchairs: Lightweight wheelchairs cover all wheelchairs that typically weigh less than 35 lbs. These designs are self-propelled wheelchairs, while others are intended exclusively for use with companion assistance.

Other Manual Wheelchair Types:

Here are more types of unpowered or manual wheelchairs available are specialized to address specific user needs:

Sport Wheelchairs: Also called “sports seats,” these are designed for physically-challenged athletes. Typical designs have a lower seat height, limited cushions, and minimal or removable armrests to optimize the athlete’s visibility. Modifications are available to accommodate the needs of a specific sport.

All-terrain Wheelchairs: These are designed to tackle uneven surfaces. These typically have more than two pairs of wheels to ensure maximum stability on rough surfaces. They may have large tires with maximum traction and have specifically designed handles to propel the wheelchair to provide maximum torque and power.

Positioning Wheelchairs: Typically found in nursing homes, hospitals, and other institutions where a person needs more support than what a standard wheelchair can provide, these have reclining backs and hand-controlled systems that allow the users to move their body within the wheelchair independently. These may come as manual or power wheelchairs.

Benefits of Manual Wheelchairs

Lower cost: Because manual wheelchairs don’t require the complicated drive trains present in power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs are cheaper.

Easy to Transport: By having no motors and a battery, manual wheelchairs are typically lighter. Foldable wheelchairs can be carried around in a car trunk or checked in as luggage on any flight. Moreover, manual wheelchairs are easier to store, especially the folding types.

Simple to Use: Learning to use a manual wheelchair as a user or companion is easy. The controls are intuitive, and learning to navigate a manual wheelchair is intuitive.

No charging required: Because of the absence of an electric motor, you won’t have issues finding a place to charge a manual wheelchair.

Benefits of Power Wheelchairs

Suitable for Use at Any Level of Strength: Because a power chair doesn’t need companion assistance, everyone, regardless of strength, can have mobility and go to most places they want. For instance, for physically challenged users looking for the best wheelchair that can enable them to do additional household tasks independently, the Jazzy Air 2 Power Chair, with its adjustable seat height, can provide this.

Capability to Travel Further: Most high-quality electric wheelchairs have battery capacities of more than ten miles on a single charge. With power wheelchairs, users have additional independence across different terrain types, such as the Jazzy 614 Heavy Duty Power Chair.

Optimized for Public Transport: Many cities today offer wheelchairs with ramps on buses. This means users can have an even higher degree of independence than ever before, even without a companion. Highly optimized power chairs, such as the Merits Vision Sport Power Chair, has the combination of mobility, range, and weight to enable users to use them in public transport.

Customizable Options: Whether you need optimal upper body support or elevating legrests, vast options are available. Though manual wheelchairs have the advantage of portability, portable power wheelchair designs, such as the Jazzy Passport Folding Power Chair, are optimized for easy transport.

Takeaways: Let Us Help You Find The Right Choice

Power Mobility has been in the medical supplies business for over three decades. We specialize in mobility solutions through power chair sales and servicing, mobility scooter rentals and sales, and patient lifts. With our broad range of products and services, we can guarantee our clients that their demands for mobility are addressed. To know more about your available options for power wheelchairs and other mobility devices, call us at (480) 471-8592, or fill out our contact form on our Contact Us page.

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