Types Of Wheelchairs - Transit or Self Propelled?
If you intend to propel yourself in the chair yourself, you will need to look at ‘self propelling’ wheelchairs with have large back wheels, they are typically around 24" in diametor. Whilst these chairs are designed to be used by the wheelchair user they normally have pushing handles on the back so that someone can push you where needed. When someone is pushing you the larger back wheels can be an advantage when being pushed over kerbs or objects in the way.
If you are not strong enough to move or propel yourself in the chair and intend to rely on someone else pushing the wheelchair, you are normally better off with a "transit or transport wheelchair". These have smaller rear wheels which are normally around 12" and can be easier to manoeuvre. They are also easier to put in to the boot of cars, although most wheelchairs now feature quick release wheels which means the wheels can come off within about 3 seconds.
There are many factors involved on choosing which type of chair to go for. If you think you may want to propel yourself even a little you would be better off going for a self propel wheelchair. This generally gives you the best of both worlds. However, this should be considered against the increased width of the chair from the larger wheels as you would have a rim outside of the wheel on the self propelled version.
Lightweight or Standard Types?
The amount of time you intend to spend in the wheelchair will have a bearing on which chair to choose. For transporting users for short journeys, the manufacturers normally have a lightweight specification which means less padding and comfort due to the less amount of padding and parts etc. If the user is full time in the chair then it's better practice to find a chair that focuses more on comfort and durability than anything. They would normally weigh more but ultimately the user is more comfortable in the wheelchair.
A typical lightweight transit wheelchair weighs around 9.5KG where a more padded and durable chair for long time use would weigh around 20KG.
Normally all wheelchairs have removal foot plates to make things a little lighter again.
Here are two examples of chairs we do that differ in weight but also have their own advantages.
Most wheelchairs fold upwards by pulling up on the seat either in the middle or by 2 grab handles on each side of the seat.
Some of the wheelchairs can fold even more by having a "Half Folding Back" option where the back of the chair will fold down to reduce the height of the folded wheelchair by around 30% which would really make a difference in fitting into small spaces or car boots.
Another thing to watch out for is the removable parts on the wheelchairs, normally most wheelchairs come with detachable footplates. But some offer an added advantage of removal armrests to reduce the wheelchair size again.
Another good thing to note is some wheechairs; both transit and self propelled offer "Quick Release" wheelchairs which is operated by a single button in the middle of the wheel which allows the user to take the wheels off instantly.