The Different Types of Wheelchairs

A wheelchair is a mobility device for those with limited or no use of their legs which would prevent them from walking.

There are various types of wheelchairs available and the different types are suited to different people with different disabilities.

The most common type of wheelchair you will encounter is the manual self propelled chair. As the name suggests, they require human force to make them move. They generally have large real wheels with extruding hand rims so that the occupant is able to control the chair themselves. This affords them more independence than if they had to be pushed around. At the front of the chair, are smaller caster wheels which are there solely for balance. These are most suitable for those with good upper body strength, they are also good for those looking to be active and improve their physical fitness.

Attendant propelled chairs are similar to the above, but they are not controlled by the user. They have handles on the back so that they can be pushed by a relative/friend/medical professional. These chairs generally have smaller wheels than the self propelled variety.

Electric powered wheelchairs were invented to assist injured Canadian soldiers in WW2 but are now a very common site. As the name suggests, Electric chairs are electronically powered, requiring minimal effort for the user or a carer. Electric wheelchairs are controlled by a joystick or in some cases, where the user has suffered a C2-3 spinal chord lesion or debilitating head injury, the chair can be controlled with chin controls or puff/sip scanners which the user blows into to send instructions to the chair.

Although bulky, most wheelchairs can be folded or dismantled to allow for easy transportation in a car or on public transport.

Special adaptations of wheelchairs have been made to allow the user to participate a number of sports catering for chair users. Racing wheelchairs are lightweight with long wheelbases and thin wheels to allow the athlete to achieve high speeds.

A relatively new sport, powerchair soccer, utilises special electric wheel chairs adapted with cages around the users feet to allow them control of the football.

There are chairs designed for rugby. These generally have a short wheel base, allowing the user more manuverability to make tight turns and give them the advantage on the pitch.

Beach lovers are also catered for. These chairs have large wheels to allow them to sit on top of the sand easier, something which regular wheelchairs are unable to do due to their thin wheels.

If you are in the market for a wheel chair, then features to look out for include. Folding foot rests, seat belts, the ability to fold away, removable arm rests, adjustable seating positions. Just pop into your local retailer and see what the options are.

Euromobility are specialists in wheelchairs and disability aids.

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