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A manual wheelchair has the impossible task of replacing lower limbs as well as supplying a comfy seat.
However these are two quite different and not totally compatible goals:
- It must give the user a comfortable chair to relax in and also to carry out everyday functions.
- It should provide freedom of movement while being lightweight, easy to move around and compact for transport.
Balance of Both Worlds
These two tasks are challenging to achieve on their own but they must complement each other. Seating quality should not impact movement and maneuverability should not come at the expense of comfort.
The majority of manual wheelchairs meet these two requirements but there are some situations where comfort has to be priority over maneuverability for example, wheelchairs for the elderly or severely disabled.
Sometimes lightweight is more important than comfort. Therefore when choosing a wheelchair, you need to consider how you are going to be using it and the fine balance of maneuverability and comfort.
Folding vs. Rigid Chairs
Let’s take a look at folding wheelchairs. Some of the points will also apply to wheelchairs with rigid frames. While in the choosing a wheelchair process, you might seek advice from your doctor, physical therapist or even the retailer.
The ultimate choice is yours and given that you will be in the wheelchair for quite a while, it is important to fully inform yourself and choose the chair that suits your needs the best.
This guide will not only help you ask the important questions of your therapists, doctors and retailers, but just as important to get the answers you need to make an informed choice.
What is Necessary for your Daily Needs?
Many high quality wheelchairs are in the lower end of the price range. You have the lightweight folding wheelchairs that weigh in at 30 to 35 lbs. They possess all the basics and can be easily adjusted to your needs.
The brand of the wheelchair isn’t the most important thing you should be looking at. The most important thing should be if the wheelchair can be configured and adjusted to your specific requirements.
As with anything else, the more expensive wheelchairs have more bells and whistles, but do you need all of them?
Weight reduction doesn’t have that big of an impact on maneuverability. But the following factors play a role in how easy a chair is to move forward:
- Bearing quality
- Front and rear wheel choices and if the tires are solid or pneumatic
- Wheel position
- Firmness of backrest
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