Types Of Wheelchairs
There are many types of wheelchairs including manual, power, sports and recreational chairs for all ages and sizes available. There are standard (folding) wheelchairs that fit most general needs and then there are custom (rigid) built wheelchairs. As you may have guessed the custom chairs are usually more expensive to purchase initially, however, have you considered the long term health effects of an ill fitting wheelchair?
Wikipedia's definition of a wheelchair is:
A wheelchair is a chair with wheels, designed to be a replacement for walking. The device comes in variations where it's propelled by motors or by the seated occupant turning the rear wheels by hand. Often there are handles behind the seat for someone else to do the pushing. Wheelchairs are used by people for whom walking is difficult or impossible due to illness (physiological or physical), injury, or disability. People with both sitting and walking disability often need to use a wheel bench.
Types Of Wheelchairs - Rigid Frames
A rigid frame wheelchair consists of a welded frame on which the individual sits. The back of the chair is able to fold down and the wheels can be removed with a quick release mechanism to enable easy storage and transportation of the wheelchair.
Frames are made from either aluminum or titanium, but some special wheelchairs are made from carbon fiber, A lightweight rigid frame wheelchair can weigh as little as 10 lbs without the wheels. The lightweight of this chair will be less stressful on your shoulder joints and much easier to push than standard weight chairs.
The advantage of these types of wheelchairs are that they have fewer moving parts, which means they are generally stronger and last longer than the folding wheelchair.
Types Of Wheelchairs - Folding Frames
The folding frame types of wheelchairs are just that, a folding X style frame. Most frames fold when the locking mechanism is released for folding.
Folding wheelchairs also have removable foot rests which allow for easy folding. Most frames are made from aluminum or titanium and are heavier than the rigid frame.
As with anything with moveable parts, the folding wheelchair is not as durable as the rigid frame wheelchair. Therefore maintenance is required more frequently to keep all parts in good working order.
Rigid Versus Folding Wheelchairs
The types of wheelchairs with superior performance features are the rigid wheelchairs. It has reduced maintenance and weight, allowing the user to optimize mobility not only for athletes but for everyday users as well. This type of wheelchair has fewer moveable parts which means less maintenance and things to go wrong.
Less energy is needed to push the rigid wheelchair versus the folding wheelchair. Most of the energy from the push on the wheels is translated into forward motion with his type of wheelchair.
The folding wheelchair design is not optimized for performance. The casters are placed behind the footrests to allow the wheelchair to fold properly. This type of wheelchair design puts a lot of weight on the casters. The rigid wheelchair distance between the footrest and casters is usually much shorter, placing more weight on the rear wheels. Less weight on the front casters means easier turning for the rigid chair user.
The rigid wheelchair is designed to fit the body of the user, while the primary design of the folding wheelchair is to fold. Folding wheelchairs are generally more “boxy” while rigid wheelchairs conform to the shape of the body. This means it can hold the users body in place by tapering the frame and seat. The folding wheelchair cannot be tapered or it would not close completely.
Adjustments and configurations are easier to make later with the rigid wheelchair type.
Some types of rigid wheelchairs allow for independent transfers in and out of vehicles while the folding wheelchair usually requires a companion to fold the wheelchair and place in the trunk of the car. Some rigid chairs allow for the user to remove the two wheels, fold down the back rest and bring the wheelchair inside the car and place it in the back seat or on the floor. A folding wheelchair would make this task more difficult.
To summarize, the weight, design and fewer moving parts makes the rigid wheelchair better for independent performance than the folding wheelchair.
The advantage of the folding wheelchair is that it can be stored in the trunk of an automobile without removing the wheels. The folding wheelchair is much more commonly used, especially in the long term skilled settings and acute care settings.
Rigid wheelchairs are not for everyone, but some individuals currently using a folding chair would be better off in a rigid wheelchair.
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Who Is Right For The Rigid Wheelchair Type?
* Has Good Upper Body Strength
* Wants to be Independent
* Is Young and Active
* Sees their wheelchair as a part of their body
Who Is Right For The Folding Wheelchair Type?
* Will Never be Independent or has no Upper Body Strength
* Has Minimal Upper Body Strength or Coordination
* Is Very Young or Older
To summarize, the comparison of these types of wheelchairs it is determined that a rigid wheelchair is for the user's convenience and the folding wheelchair is usually more for the companions convenience.
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