Skip to Content
Close Icon


Mobility Monitor

Guide to selecting a wheelchair

Selecting a wheelchair can be a confusing process due to the wide range of prices and the many types of chairs on the market today.

You may have been prescribed a specific type of wheelchair by an Occupational Therapist or you may find yourself shopping for a chair to accommodate an elderly relative, but whatever the reason, the task may become daunting.

Here are some tips to help make shopping for a wheelchair a little less frustrating for the first time buyer.

  • Who will push? Who will be pushing the wheelchair is an important factor to take into consideration. Somebody who will be using a wheelchair independently will require a self-propelling model they push themselves with larger wheels. A self propelled, or transit wheelchair with smaller wheels would be appropriate if the wheelchair is to be pushed by an attendant.
  • Portability: For the occasional user, a folding wheelchair is a good idea, as they can easily be dismantled, folded and transported by car. The rear wheels can be taken off and the back might be able to fold down. These wheelchairs are ideal for those going out for the day in the car, or perhaps for someone who can`t walk as far as they once could, but maybe don`t need to be in a wheelchair all the time.
  • Weight: Also, for occasional use, the lighter the wheelchair, the easier it will be to transport. Folding wheelchairs usually weigh around 33-44lbs. Folding wheelchairs are available in variety of sizes, but may not offer the specialized features that a prescribed wheelchair does.
  • Comfort: If the wheelchair is to be used more often, all day, at work, or indoors for example, the comfort and maneuverability may be more important than the costs. These wheelchairs are less likely to be folding models. These rigid, selfpropelled wheelchairs combine a lighter frame and wheels. They might have more specialized features, such as a seat cushion, foot rests and arm rests. Whatever style of wheelchair you choose, a wheelchair cushion is highly recommended. This will help improve posture, comfort and can help to prevent pressure sores.
  • Use: Wheelchair users who lead an active lifestyle, which might include playing sports and driving, will require a different type of wheelchair. These users are more likely to want one that is very lightweight, smaller and stronger than a traditional wheelchair. A sport wheelchair may be constructed from titanium, which is lighter and stronger than aluminum. It probably won`t have traditional style foot rests, arm rests or handles, as it won`t need to be pushed. It is likely to have custom features. These lightweight chairs are easy to put in a car, and the user can put the chair in the car from the driver`s seat. This means that they don`t have to rely on others, and more independence.
  • Efficiency: Another important aspect to consider when choosing a wheelchair is to measure the efficiency of the chair. This can be done by seeing how far it will move on a given surface in just one push.

The process of choosing a wheelchair may seem complex but wheelchair manufacturers make this easier by providing a prescription form for some models. This provides a stepby-step method of choosing a wheelchair based on a person`s condition, activities and any other special needs. Depending on the complexity of the requirements, the wheelchair manufacturer may offer the service of a trained expert to help with this decision.

Overall, it is a good idea to let an experienced mobility dealer guide you into making the right choice.