Best Wheelchairs Buying Guide 2020
Ultimate Guide to Buying Wheelchairs
With thousands of Wheelchairs on the market, you might be scratching your head and asking yourself ‘What’s the Best Wheelchair to Buy?”
Fortunately, Mobility Shop Direct is dedicated to providing you with all the information you need to make an educated decision about Which Wheelchair is Best for You.
What is a Wheelchair?
As the name suggests, ‘Wheelchairs’ are basically ‘chairs with wheels’, and are intended for use by people who have difficulty walking due to disability, injury or illness.
When they were first invented in Spain, they were used to help King Phillips II move around his castle, and were a luxury device that only the wealthy were able to buy.
Fortunately, for many Australians today, Wheelchairs have not only become more Affordable and Accessible, but there has been huge leaps in their Engineering and Designs!
Benefits of Wheelchairs
Wheelchairs play a crucial role in the Health and Wellbeing of patients that have difficulty walking. By providing ‘Mobility’ they open opportunities for these patients to engage in social activities with family and friends, to participate in study, to earn income through work, and to access services such as healthcare.
To read more about the Important Role Wheelchairs play in our community Click Here.
How To Choose a Wheelchair?
When choosing a Wheelchair for a user there are many considerations to take into account such as the propulsion method, type of wheelchair, mechanism of control and technology used.
Wheelchair Propulsion Mechanism
There are two main propulsion mechanisms and they are ‘Self Propel’ and ‘Transit’:
- Self Propel Wheelchairs: Constructed with Larger Rear Wheels (usually 60cm or 24’’), front casters and hand rims, they are used by patient to propel themselves without needing assistance of anyone. The larger wheel sizes makes it easier to move around in rough terrains such as over the grass or up kerbs.
- Transit Wheelchairs: Unlike the Self-Propel Wheelchairs, the Transit Wheelchairs has smaller wheels (usually around 30CM or 12’’) and rely on the user being pushed around. Ideal for use in Nursing Homes, Hospitals and Airlines these wheelchairs are lighter in weight, and consist of ‘Attendant Brakes’ that allows the carer to reduce the wheelchair speed down hills, or lock for safety when required.
If you limited upper body strength to push yourself and do not have a carer to assist you, then feel free to checkout our Best Electric Wheelchairs Buyer’s Guide.
Wheelchair Types & Weight
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a wheelchair is its ‘weight’, and whether the person transporting the chair will be able to safely lift and transport the chair in their vehicle.
Weighing about 13-20kg these Wheelchairs are available in both self-propel or transit model for general use, are economically priced to suit all budgets and are available in either 41CM (16’’) or 46CM (18’’) Seat Width.
These Wheelchairs are lighter at 8-13kg, and are easier to propel and transport. They are made out of lightweight aluminium, are available in both self-propel and transit model, and are available in either 41CM (16’’) or 46CM (18’’) Seat Width.
Heavy Duty Wheelchairs:
Designed for Larger or Bariatric users, these wheelchairs are often made of more durable metals such as steel and tend to weigh around 15-27kg, but have increased weight capacities of 160-325kg. They also offer wider seat size ranging from 51-61CM (20’’-24’’).
Tilt and Recline Wheelchairs:
These wheelchairs allow you to change the orientation of the patient and allow them to lie back in the wheelchair.
Size of Wheelchairs
Choosing the right size wheelchairs plays a vital role in both your comfort and propulsion biomechanisms of your Wheelchair, and there are many factors to consider such as Seat width, Seat Depth, Seat height, Back rest, seat angle and arm rest.
Ideally you want a snug fit in your chair to stabilise your sitting position.
If the seat is too wide it will lead to unwanted positions changes, poor posture, make it difficult to access the wheels, and ultimately increase the risk of injury.
Conversely, if the seat is too narrow, it will be less stable and less comfortable to use.
Seat Depth is just as important as width for comfort and biomechanics of your wheelchair. Ideally you want to sit down with your weight evenly distributed throughout your thighs and buttocks, while providing allowing enough breathable space behind your knees.
If the seat is too short, it will overload the buttocks and increase pressure care risks, and affect manoeuvrability by placing too much weight on the castors.
Conversely if the seat is too deep, it will place pressure behind the knees causing a slumped posture and can affect pressure care and propulsion of the wheelchair.
When selecting a Seat Height you need to make sure that the seat is high enough to take weight off your feet, but low enough to fit under tablets and ensure comfortable transfer height. When considering Seat Height you must also factor in the height of the cushion you will be using.
Ideally you want a backrest that provides sufficient tension to maintain a well seater position and provide freedom of movement.
Depending on your postural support needs, task you will be doing and duration of use you might either want a higher backrest or lower backrest:
- High Backrest: provides increased stability, particularly for those with postural concerns.
- Low Backrest: Allows more arm freedom for self-propelling and general function.
Another factors to consider when buying a wheelchair is the angle between the seat and backrest, which needs to be balanced against the needs of the user. A wider angle can provide greater postural support and reduce the risk of slipping forward. However, this can restrict movement, make if more difficult to self-propel or impact transfers.
- Armrest Height: Should allow your forearms to rest comfortably.
- Footrest Length: Should not extend too far to cause an obstacle.
How to Measure for Wheelchairs:
At Mobility Shop Direct we recommend that you Consult a Physiotherapist to take measurements and determine which Wheelchair will suit you Best.
However, we understand that some customers would prefer to take measurements themselves with the help of a family member or friends, so we've provided the following wheelchair measuring reference for you.
Best Manual Wheelchairs
At Mobility Shop Direct we believe that the Best Wheelchair will depend on your needs, but in terms of Value, Quality, and Functionality we would recommend you consider the DRIVE Range of Wheelchairs:
Feel free to contact us if you need any assistance with choosing a wheelchair or have any questions by calling 1300 132 952, by emailing email@example.com or by completing our online form.