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Individuals who have reduced mobility because of an injury or disability use wheelchairs. They are also helpful to people with mental or physical illnesses.
With the technological advances, wheelchairs today can accommodate a wide range of uses. The regular wheelchair is made up of two small front wheels, two large rear wheels, a seat, and a backrest and in most cases a footrest.
Many custom features are available for most modern wheelchairs, such as adjustable seat to floor height, padded seats and back rest, safety restraints, reclining options, cup holders, and oxygen tank holders to mention a few.
What Type of Wheelchair Do I Need?
Wheelchairs can be designed to meet your specific needs. Sport wheelchairs help those with physical disabilities to take part in many competitive events, such as basketball, tennis, fencing and racing to mention a few. Most major marathons around the world now include a wheelchair section in the race. You can even get wheelchairs that can safely go on the sand and into the water. Quite a few beaches in Europe have wheelchair accessible areas where fun seekers can either use their own or get one at the beach, usually at no cost!
Manual wheelchairs fall into one of 3 categories wheel-based, self-propelled and attendant propelled.
Wheel-Based Wheelchair Models
Wheel-based wheelchairs have custom-built seating system for people with complex posture positions. A cast is taken of the user in their best-seated position. That shape is then transferred to memory foam or a plastic cast. The custom seat is then covered and framed before getting attached to the wheelbase.
Self-propelled as the name suggests is propelled by the user, who uses the hand rims attached to the larger wheels to push the chair. With some practice, the user can go up or down curbs or scoot over small obstacles.
Caregiver Wheelchairs are Considered "Attendant-Propelled"
Attendant-propelled wheelchairs have handles at the back of the seat that the attendants use to push. Some wheelchair models have 4 smaller wheels and in those cases, the user will always need an attendant for mobility. They are made to be used in smaller spaces and are often used at airports to transport disabled passengers. When the transfer is done, these chairs easily collapse and can be stored in narrow storage spaces on the plane.
For those who have a tough time pushing a manual wheelchair, an electric wheelchair might be a better alternative. Rechargeable batteries are used to power the motors in electric wheelchairs, which in turn move the wheels. The user operates the wheelchair by using a joystick. Most electric powered wheelchairs have an onboard charger that can be plugged into any standard outlet if it has to be recharged before the user returns home.