how to choose a wheelchair

How to Choose a Wheelchair

The first thing you must ask yourself when purchasing a wheelchair is what features it must have in order to accommodate your disability.

Well, purchasing a wheelchair is similar to buying a microwave oven, refrigerator, or central air conditioning unit.

You want it to work as stated, have the particular features you want or need, and be within your pricing range.

Wheelchairs, on the other hand, differ from other products due to the function they play in people’s lives, therefore it’s critical to select one that takes a variety of aspects into account.

Here are some pointers on how to purchase your wheelchair.

how to choose a wheelchair
How to choose a wheelchair?

Types of Wheelchair

If you need help addressing your need for a new wheelchair, we’ve included a useful glossary of all the various types of wheelchair choices below.

Aisle Wheelchair

An aisle chair is a type of assistive wheelchair that is commonly used to help people with mobility issues board airplanes more conveniently.

They are narrower wheelchairs with several straps that totally secure the rider, allowing them to roll down the short aisles of airlines and other public transit.

All-Terrain Wheelchair

An all-terrain wheelchair, available in both manual and electric types, is uniquely intended to go safely through difficult terrains such as dirt, grass, gravel, sand, snow, and even into water when supervised.

They’re also known as outdoor wheelchairs.

They have oversized balloon-type wheels that improve maneuverability and stability and are made of non-corrosive materials that can survive all types of weather.

Bariatric Wheelchair

Bariatric wheelchairs are heavy-duty wheelchairs made of reinforced steel, titanium, or aluminum that are intended for larger, heavier users weighing 350 pounds or more.

They have broader, sturdier chairs that may tilt to enhance medical placement, allowing the user’s center of gravity to be better accommodated.

Beach Wheelchair

Beach wheelchairs are a subtype of All-Terrain wheelchairs that are expressly intended to withstand frequent contact with water.

It also provides design elements that make it simpler to roll over sand and pebbles and right into the ocean.

These designs typically necessitate the assistance of a caregiver or attendant to propel.

Ergonomic Wheelchair

Ergonomic wheelchairs are lightweight and easy to maneuver, and are specifically designed to support the human body following its natural contours.

Height, weight, body distribution, and temperature preferences are all considered to help reduce or prevent pressure points, shear, and discomfort.

Proper placement helps to redistribute the user’s weight, which improves stability.

High-Back Reclining Wheelchair

A high-back reclining wheelchair, with a higher back than regular wheelchairs, allows you to recline to a 180-degree position from a 90-degree sitting posture, enhancing comfort and circulation.

This repositioning support is appropriate for wheelchair users who require additional assistance owing to respiratory issues, poor trunk or core stability, severe arthritis, quadriplegia, severe multiple sclerosis, or muscular dystrophy.

Lightweight Wheelchair

Lightweight wheelchairs, which normally weigh less than 50 pounds, are virtually always manual in design and are typically built of aluminum, but can also integrate steel and other metals.

They’re easier to navigate and propel for riders, and they’re lighter for caregivers to push.

Lightweight wheelchairs are also easy to transport, with several folding down to fit in a vehicle.

Manual (Self-propelled) Wheelchair

Manual wheelchairs, the most popular variety, mobilize by requiring the user to self-propel or can be pushed by a friend or caregiver.

They have larger rear wheels that are easier for the user to grasp and push, and they may have an attendant bar or handles on the back for easier caregiver control.

Pediatric Wheelchair

Pediatric wheelchairs are uniquely developed to address the many varied special demands of younger, smaller wheelchair users and provide mobility aid for children of all ages.

Wheelchairs for children, like ordinary wheelchairs for adults, come in a variety of sizes, designs, and formats, with different positioning supports and inventive design elements to accommodate each child’s specific needs.

Pool Wheelchair

Pool access wheelchairs, which are made of non-corrosive materials, are easier to maintain around water, bright sunshine, and humidity than ordinary wheelchairs.

It is frequently used to offer access for persons in public pools and spas.

They are designed to dry fast and have specifically constructed wheels that will not scuff or stain the ground.

Power Wheelchair

Power wheelchairs are ideal for persons who are unable to propel manual wheelchairs since they use battery systems and electric motors to move.

A power wheelchair, also known as an electric wheelchair, an EPW (Electric-Powered Wheelchair), or motorized wheelchair, allows users to move around both indoors and outdoors with simple control

It is an excellent alternative for anyone who requires more physical engagement.

Sports Wheelchair

Sports wheelchairs feature specialized safety characteristics as well as reinforced and heavy-duty construction to endure athletic and competitive sports applications.

It has a wide range of frame configurations uniquely designed to meet the various needs of different sports.

Despite their sturdy build, they are frequently extremely lightweight for ease of maneuvering.

Stand-Up Wheelchair

A stand-up wheelchair is a medical gadget that allows wheelchair users to stand securely by utilizing revolutionary technology design elements.

Standing wheelchairs are ideal for people with mild to severe disabilities since they allow for considerably simpler transitions from sitting to standing positions, sometimes without the need for caregiver support.

Standing frames assist wheelchair users in achieving and maintaining better health.

It is by assisting in the prevention of medical concerns that are frequently connected with prolonged and protracted sitting positions.

Tilt-in-Space Wheelchair

Tilt-in-space wheelchairs provide excellent pressure relief by shifting the wheelchair user’s weight and offering a variety of settings to improve health and comfort.

Sitting upright places a significant portion of the body’s weight on the buttocks, back, and back of the thighs.

As it can be uncomfortable for extended periods of time, the tilt-in-space design helps reposition the user at various angles to improve comfort and support healthy bodily functions.

Transport Wheelchair

Transport wheelchairs are designed for a caregiver or attendant to push and are used for a variety of mobility applications.

They have smaller wheels that the person cannot self-propel and are frequently used to transfer patients within medical, rehab, or care institutions.

Transport chairs are typically substantially lower in weight, with designs that are easier for a caregiver or partner to propel.

Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair

Lightweight manual wheelchairs are easier to handle, self-propel, and travel with, and they are also easier for caregivers or companions to mobilize and store.

Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs, which often weigh less than 25 pounds, are an excellent alternative for more energetic riders since they are much easier to turn and steer.

What to look when buying a wheelchair?

When buying for a wheelchair, there are several main factors to consider.

The information provided here will give you a decent sense of what’s available, what to look for, and what to think about before making your purchase.


Every wheelchair that is used on a daily basis must be comfortable.

The most important factor to consider here is the seat.

Most are constructed of nylon or vinyl, and some may require a cushion or bespoke back support to be comfortable.

Seat width and depth are other vital factors to consider, since you’ll want a seat that precisely fits the person.


A wheelchair cushion can be added to improve comfort, support, and stability.

Gel cushions can provide additional comfort; positioning cushions can correct posture and increase the user’s ability to navigate; and preventative cushions can decrease friction and pressure over extended use.


Most wheelchair seats are composed of nylon or vinyl because they are both durable and easy to clean.

Depending on the frame design of your wheelchair, several seats can be changed or updated.

Seat size

Seat width (the space between the armrests) and seat depth are the two dimensions of a seat (the distance from the backrest to the front edge of the seat).

Wheelchairs are available in a variety of seat widths ranging from 14 to 20 inches, with 18 inches being the most popular.

Seat depths vary and should be determined by having the wheelchair user sit up straight in a natural active stance.

Seat Height

Seat height refers to how high the seat is above the ground.

Most wheelchairs have a seat height of 20 to 21 inches, which is suitable for users who are 5 feet tall or taller.

Transferring may be more difficult if the user is shorter than 5 feet, as the wheelchair may be excessively high.

Chair Height

The chair height – or the total height of the device – will influence how readily the wheelchair can be carried and maneuvered.

Taller wheelchairs may be more difficult to store in a car trunk, whereas shorter wheelchairs are easier to fold or collapse.

Chair Weight

If you will be travelling your wheelchair frequently, or if you want something that is easy to operate when traveling, you should think about chair weight.

Transport chairs and pediatric wheelchairs are often lighter than manual wheelchairs, whereas power chair is typically heavier than manual wheelchair.

The weight of a chair can range from 19 pounds to more than 65 pounds, depending on the features and accessories.


Armrests give extra comfort and support. They are frequently removable (or can flip up) to facilitate transferring and transit.

Many armrests are at table or desk height, allowing them to tuck easily beneath a conventional table top.

Leg rests

Leg rests, like armrests, provide additional support and comfort to the user.

They are available in a variety of forms, but the most crucial factor to consider is whether you want the leg rests to swing or adjust, as this can affect the chair’s transferability.


Wheels can improve the entire ride’s stability and convenience.

The majority of wheelchair wheels are either rubber or semi-pneumatic, which can affect how the wheelchair moves on different terrain.

Some wheels require no care, while others must be replaced as they wear down over time.

Our Thoughts

A manual wheelchair can be a good choice for many mobility equipment users since they are comfortable, inexpensive, dependable, give excellent support, and are simple to move into and out of.

If you decide to purchase a wheelchair without the advice of a doctor, you would quite likely be required to cover the full cost of the wheelchair.

Insurance has strict rules for covering these expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a good wheelchair cost?

A standard, manual wheelchair costs an average of $500, according to the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.

A chair meant for everyday use costs between $1,000 and $2,000 depending upon the features of the chair, which can include an individualized seat, various types of wheels and a lightweight frame.

Do you need a prescription to get a wheelchair?

You do not need a prescription to buy or use a wheelchair.

If a doctor has determined your need for a wheelchair, you may then qualify for insurance coverage to help with the wheelchair costs.

A doctor’s prescription will be required to receive insurance coverage.

What is the easiest wheelchair to push?

Transport wheelchairs are convenient easy to push wheelchairs, since they come with small wheels.

One of the reasons to buy this type of wheelchair is so that the caregiver can effectively push the user without exerting too much energy with each push.

How can I get a free wheelchair ramp?

The habitat for humanity provides a free handicapped ramp program for disabled, low-income and fixed income seniors.

The program sends someone out to evaluate your house and to access your need for the home modification.

The materials used to build the ramp are donated and volunteers help with building it.

How much does it cost to install a wheelchair lift in a house?

An incline lift for a full, non-curved staircase usually costs $3,000 to $4,000.

Sometimes installation is included in that price, but if not budget an extra $500 or more.

Incline lifts for partial staircases often cost $2,000 or less, while custom lifts for curved or more elaborate staircases can cost $10,000 or more.