How To Choose The Best Wheelchair

How To Choose The Best Wheelchair

There are hundreds, if not thousands of wheelchair models to choose from, not to mention the different manufacturers. You have to look at all the features, characteristics, and of course, price tags so you can choose the best wheelchair for your specific case.

You also have to look at weight capacity, frame material, extra add-ons, the chair’s weight and size, and other factors that will dictate the overall performance of the wheelchair. As a rule of thumb, bigger, heavier chairs tend to be bulkier, but can also come with more features.

Man in wheelchair

Besides the chair itself, you have to think about the person who will be using it. People of different ages use wheelchairs for multiple reasons, so you have to think about age, gender, condition, body type, and areas where the chair will be used.

These mobility devices can come in an array of shapes and sizes. Not only this, but they can also be designed specifically for indoor or outdoor use, as well as hybrid designs that perform well in both conditions.

When you take all this into account, it’s no surprise that finding the perfect fit is not an easy task. In this article, we will discuss the different aspect you should keep in mind when selecting a wheelchair and give you our recommendation for the best wheelchairs available today.

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What Are Wheelchairs

Although they vary in shape, design, and purpose, wheelchairs are mobility devices that consist of a chair or seat that is equipped with wheels. Most designs feature four wheels: two large rear wheels and two smaller caster wheels in front, although there are some variations.

These mobility devices are designed to help people that have difficulties moving, so they can improve their overall life quality and give them a sense of independence. Wheelchairs can be divided into manual and electric models, and they can come with an array of different features.

The majority of wheelchair designs are created for indoor usage, which also includes smooth surface patios and decks. However, you can also purchase models that are designed to work outdoors, so they are easier to control and operate on uneven surfaces.

Manual Wheelchair

Depending on the model you choose, these mobility devices can come with a huge array of features. Some can fold for easy storage, bring additional compartments, and others offer quick-release wheels for easy transport.

The best way to choose the right wheelchair is by looking at its parts and features. Keep in mind that there are countless designs and models that can have unique characteristics as well. But, the most important things to consider are always comfort and practicality.

Basic wheelchairs consist of a frame, seat, backrest, wheels, arm rests, leg rests, brakes, and often feature push handles on the back. They usually have a weight capacity of 250 to 300 pounds, although some heavy-duty models can support more than 450 pounds.

On the other hand, self-propelled models can bring adjustment control, display screens, buttons, handles, and other intricate parts. These allow users to steer the chair, control its acceleration, and adjust seating angle, among other options.

Why You Should Choose Your Wheelchair Carefully

Choosing a wheelchair can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time choosing one. Regardless if you will be the person using it or if you are shopping for a loved one, comfort and functionality are the two most important factors you have to keep in mind.

Also, remember that these mobility devices are hefty investments. Because they improve the life quality of the people using them, they have to be safe and durable, so manufacturers often invest a lot of resources into designing the best possible chairs.

Wheelchar.

Sources: webhealthjournal.com

If you are not sure what you need to consider, keep reading this guide to find out about the different characteristics and aspects you should take into account.

What To Keep An Eye Out For

Wheelchairs have different purposes and features and there are tons of different aspects you need to look at. But, you should always remember that regardless of how many features it has, the main purpose of a wheelchair is to create a great experience for the person using it.

This means that you should keep your weight, height, and body type in mind. In many cases, you also want to consider the reason why you are using a wheelchair, which can help you decide between a self-propelled or a manual model.

When choosing the best wheelchair, you should always look at:

1- Type Of Wheelchair

As we mentioned before, wheelchairs can be divided into electric and manual models. Despite the fact that their basic design is the same, both of these have key differences that make them suitable for different users.

Manual Wheelchairs

As the name indicates, manual wheelchairs are propelled either by the person sitting in the chair or by another individual who pushes the chair. They can be made of PVC, carbon fiber, or metal and tend to be significantly lighter than their electric counterparts.

Electric Wheelchairs

Also known as power wheelchairs, these electric designs use a series of motors to propel the chair. Users can enjoy enhanced mobility without requiring the strength to move the chair around, making it suitable for children and elderly people alike.

2- Size And Weight

You need to consider the size and weight of the mobility device itself before making a purchase. If you want to transport your wheelchair in a vehicle regularly, you want to find a compact model that is made of light materials, but these also tend to bring fewer features.

Foldawheel PW-1000XL

On the other hand, heavier models can bring additional features such as motors, batteries, and additional storage space, so they tend to be heavier and bulkier.

3- Construction Quality

Because there are thousands of different models, you need to make sure you find a chair that is suitable for your requirements. This means finding a high-quality chair that will withstand the wear and tear of the activities you enjoy the most.

Many manufacturers have made a name for themselves by consistently delivering high-quality products throughout the years. Later in this article, we will highlight some of the best models available today and the reputable manufacturers that are responsible for their development.

Lastly, the type of material you use will have a direct impact on the weight and durability of the wheelchair. Metal chairs tend to be the most durable, but they are also the heaviest. Carbon fiber designs are lightweight, but often bring a hefty price tag.

PVC models are the least durable ones, but these specialty wheelchairs are popular for patients who have to undergo frequent MRI tests.

4- Comfort And Support Elements

As we have mentioned before, the most important factor when choosing a wheelchair is comfort and stability. People who use wheelchairs spend the majority of their day sitting in them, so finding the most ergonomic design is pivotal.

Note that different body types have different requirements, so you need to make sure the wheelchair you choose provides the right support for your case. Finally, you should look at additional accessories and add-ons, such as headrests, that help increase comfort.

5- Weight Capacity

Each chair’s weight capacity is dictated by the materials and components it has, so you have to make sure you follow the safety precautions whenever you use them. Although most models can support up to 300 pounds, there are heavy-duty models that can withstand a lot more.

6- Battery Type

Electric wheelchairs come equipped with a battery that is responsible for powering the entire unit. As you can imagine, there are numerous battery types to choose from, all of which directly affect your chair’s performance.

Battery in a wheelchair.

Bigger batteries tend to translate to longer travel distances and more features, but also remember that they will take longer to charge fully. Your best bet is to choose an energy-efficient model with a battery that needs to be charged only once per day.

7- Travel Distance

Although the type of battery directly affects travel distance, there are other factors you need to consider. The weight of the chair will also affect the overall travel distance, as well as the terrain you are using it in.

Another big factor in travel distance will be your tire types. Tires can either be made of a solid piece or it can have pneumatic rubbers. Although pneumatic tires offer better travel distance and comfort, they need to be inflated properly to perform as intended.

8- Additional Features And Accessories

Different wheelchair models can come with different features and accessories. Some can include anti-tilt wheels on the rear, while others are made of ultra-lightweight materials that allow them to be easily transported.

If there are any special requirements or additions you would like to have in your wheelchair, you can always get in touch with manufacturers, or check out our list of recommendations to see if any of our top picks will fit your needs.

There are so many wheelchair choices out there that making the right choice can be extremely difficult. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our top recommendations for the best electric and manual models.

Best Electric Wheelchair

The best power wheelchair should be energy efficient and relatively light. Moreover, it should also be durable and have a fair price tag for the features and benefits it offers.

Winner: Foldawheel PW-1000XL Power Wheelchair

The Foldawheel PW-1000XL Power Wheelchair is designed and manufactured by Wheelchair88, one of the most reputable brands in the industry. This powerful and visually appealing masterpiece gives users enhanced mobility and functionality.

The Foldawheel line is famous for always delivering high-quality devices, and the PW-1000XL will not disappoint. This awesome wheelchair falls under the category of heavy-duty models and can support up to 330 pounds.

Although most models tend to sacrifice size for durability, the Foldawheel offers a versatile option that was designed with practicality in mind. This wheelchair can be folded in just a couple of seconds, and because it only weighs 57 pounds, it can easily fit in a small car trunk.

Foldawheel PW-1000XL

Source: wheelchair88.com

Our Rating

Not only is the Foldawheel compact, but it’s also one of the lightest models in its category. Because it’s strong and light at the same time, the PW-1000XL also offers great performance in terms of speed and travel distance.

The rear tires have a diameter of 10 inches, which makes them ideal for both indoor and outdoor usage without being too bulky. The four-spring suspension also gives it a smooth ride, creating the most comfortable experience for the person sitting in the chair.

Users who have experience with the Foldawheel line will also recall that some previous models were somewhat noisy. But, the PW-1000XL features a brushless engine, which helps cut down the noise levels considerably while also increasing energy efficiency.

One of the reasons why the PW-1000XL stands out is because it’s able to handle both even and uneven surfaces quite easily, and because it’s extremely energy efficient, you can take long journeys out without worrying about running out of battery or overheating your chair.

Wheelchair88 has delivered yet another great product that includes all basic accessories, such as the charger, one battery pack, and one sturdy travel bag.

Price at just under $2,700 and with great customer rating and satisfaction, we can’t recommend this model enough. Note that you can purchase additional battery packs that can help extend your total travel distance as well.


Runner-Up: EZ Lite Cruiser - Standard Model

EZ Lite Cruiser is another well-known manufacturer that has been delivering high-quality mobility products for years. The company specializes in providing durable, yet lightweight wheelchairs that allow maximum mobility without compromising longevity.

The reason why we chose the EZ Lite Cruiser Standard Model as a runner-up is because it can give any other wheelchair on the market a run for its money. It’s suitable for users who weigh up to 264 pounds and can enhance their mobility in both indoor and outdoor scenarios.

Similarly to the Foldawheel, the Standard Model is a versatile electric wheelchair that can be easily transported everywhere you go. You can fold it in a matter of minutes, and it’s designed to fit in the trunk of any car or sedan, regardless of how small it may be.

EZ Lite Cruiser - Standard Model - Personal Mobility Aid

Source: ezlitecruiser.com

Our Rating

Note that the EZ Lite Cruiser is extremely light, which makes it easy to move. At only 50 pounds, it’s no surprise that its Lithium Ion battery can last up to 10 miles. You can always purchase a second battery, extending the total travel distance to 20 miles.

It’s evident that this wheelchair was designed with the end users in mind as it features a small turning radius of about 33 inches, one of the best in its category. This means that sharp turns and tight corners will not pose a problem.

Finally, the EZ Lite Cruiser Standard Model makes an awesome choice because it brings a relatively low price tag of just under $2,200, which is significantly less than other models on the market today.

This, combined with the fact that is was built with durability in mind makes it one of the best choices available.


Alternative: Drive Medical Scout Compact Travel Power Scooter

If neither of the above wheelchairs seems like a right fit, you can always broaden your spectrum and start looking at other possibilities. Mobility scooters, for instance, offer an awesome alternative that can also improve mobility and overall life quality for the users.

Because of this, we propose the Drive Medical Scout Compact Travel Power Scooter as our choice for the best alternative mobility device. These lightweight, easy to assemble scooters provide a reliable option that can perform on smooth and rugged terrains alike.

The Drive Medical Scout Compact Travel Power Scooter features a padded swivel seat, armrests, and a backrest that creates a comfortable experience for the person seated.

Moreover, thanks to it ergonomic controls, you can take long journeys without worrying about becoming uncomfortable.

Drive Medical Scout Compact Travel Power Scooter, 4 Wheel

Our Rating

The steering handle is shaped like a delta and allows your arms to sit in a natural position. The non-marking, anti-slip wheels provide assurance in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Keep in mind you can select your favorite color scheme as the interchangeable panels come in both a red and blue finishing. You can change them periodically, keep the same ones, or even mix them up every now and then to keep your scooter looking fashionable.

The Drive Medical scooter also offers a storage basket on the front and a lockable compartment underneath the seat. It can also be disassembled into five easy-to-manage pieces that can be easily transported, which makes it a superb choice for cities, suburbs, or any other setting.

The Drive Medical Scout Compact has a travel distance of 9 miles per full battery charge, and because it’s suitable for people who weigh up to 300 pounds, you can rest assured it makes a great choice for all ages and body types.

At just under $900, the Drive Medical Scout Compact has one of the most impressive price tags on the market today, and most customers giving it a great rating, it certainly gets our seal of approval as one of the best wheelchairs on the market.


Best Manual Wheelchair

Manual wheelchairs don’t employ any motors, batteries, or electronic components. They tend to offer a simpler design, but need to be propelled by the person sitting in the chair or pushed by another individual from behind.

Our top recommendations for the best manual wheelchairs are:

Winner: Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

Our top pick for the best manual model is the Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair. This simple, extremely durable model was designed with end users in mind. Its lightweight frame allows the person sitting in the chair to maneuver it easily and without much effort.

This wheelchair also offers detachable desk arms, meaning that you will be able to get as close as you want to most desks or dinner tables without any interference. Not only this, but the armrests can completely flip back to allow maximum versatility.

The Drive Medical wheelchair offers a cutting-edge design that features swing-away leg rests, which prevent any sores and encourages users to sit in an ergonomic position. This results in a more comfortable experience while adding to the simplistic design of the Blue Streak.

Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair with Flip Back Desk Arms, Swing Away Footrests, 18

Our Rating

Note that this wheelchair comes in different widths to cater to all body types and shapes. The padded armrests provide a comfortable seating experience, and the nylon seat and backrest make it extremely easy to clean and maintain.

The wheels are made of solid rubber, so you will not have to worry about pumping them up. This results in a smoother, more consistent ride, while the push-to-lock braking mechanism provides the ultimate feeling of safety.

Besides featuring a modern design, the Blue Streak offers a durable metal frame that has a powdered coating that is crack and chip resistant, giving it a classy and elegant look.

Ranging from anywhere between just over $90 and just over $120 depending on the model, the Blue Streak wheelchair is exceptionally priced considering the mound of first class features it has to offer.


Runner-Up: Invacare Veranda Manual Wheelchair

When it comes to affordable wheelchairs that don’t compromise quality, the Invacare Veranda Manual Wheelchair is one of the best in its category.

Although it’s not as sturdy or functional as others on this list, the Invacare offers an awesome alternative that only cost $125 with free shipping included.

Designed with comfort in mind, the Veranda comes equipped with desk-length padded armrests, so you will be able to sit at most dining tables and desks without any problems.

Invacare Veranda Manual Wheelchair

Source: 1800wheelchair.com

Our Rating

The nylon upholstery provides a durable and easy to clean alternative, so you will not have to worry about extensive wear and tear. Besides being comfortable for the person sitting in the chair, the Veranda can also be easily folded and stored away.

It features swing-away footrests that can be removed, so you can easily store in confined spaces. Moreover, the silver frame combined with the black wheels and upholstery give it a minimalist look that is stylish and discreet at the same time.

Lastly, you will not require any tools to assemble the Invacare Veranda. When you receive the box, all you have to do is pull out the chair, unfold it, hook on the footrests, and your chair will be ready to use!


Final Verdict

Choosing the best wheelchair is not easy, but by following the tips outlined above, you should be able to identify the best wheelchair for your specific case. Always remember to keep comfort and functionality in mind in order to find the best mobility device for your specific needs.

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