Investing in a wheelchair is a significant and personal choice, akin to selecting a new vehicle. It's a device you'll rely on daily for mobility and one that you need to trust to carry you to your destinations safely and comfortably. Moreover, it's important that the wheelchair aligns with your unique needs and lifestyle preferences.

The days of a "one-size-fits-all" approach to wheelchairs are gone. The market now offers a diverse range of wheelchairs, each boasting an array of customizable options, shapes, sizes, and styles to suit different individuals.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the key considerations you need to account for when choosing a wheelchair. But first, you must consider the extent of use, where it will be used, and the frequency of use.

What to Look for When Choosing a Wheelchair?

#1 Traction Type

You have a choice: an electric traction or a wheelchair that needs to be pushed manually. Electric wheelchairs are an excellent fit for individuals with reduced physical capacity, specific medical conditions, or those who require additional support.

Conversely, manual wheelchairs might be the better option for those who anticipate a short-term or infrequent necessity. The decision can also be influenced by personal preference or budget considerations.

If a manual wheelchair is your pick, you'll have to further decide between a self-propelled model, which features larger wheels and hand rims for independent operation—examples include the Breezy Easycare and Invacare 9000XT. Electric models are more varied in design and functions, and the price range is simply huge. Here it is better to choose only what you really need.

#2 Overall Weight

When considering the portability of a wheelchair, especially if it is to be frequently loaded into a vehicle, the chair's weight becomes a significant factor. Not only does a lighter frame simplify the process of transferring the chair into the car, but it also makes the task of pushing the chair less arduous. A featherweight chair contributes to superior maneuverability and reduced physical strain for the caregiver.

Regardless of the user’s weight, a svelte wheelchair is invariably easier to handle for the individual providing assistance. Opting for the lightest wheelchair often seems like the logical choice; however, it's worth noting that the cost increases notably with the reduction in weight. Standard wheelchairs are typically equipped with a robust steel frame. For those seeking lighter options, wheelchairs with an aluminum frame are available, though they come with a higher price tag.

Keep in mind that when you are looking for wheelchairs, there are big companies keeping an eye on you. They try to find out what interests you and use it for you, and sometimes against you. For example, you can get higher prices on websites because the web giants see your interest in such a product. One solution is using the correct privacy settings, such as those provided by a VPN for Snapchat. You can read about them on the VeePN website, where they offer as many as 10 settings options that protect your online presence.

#3 Wheelchair Size

Select a chair that complements your body size to avoid discomfort from one that's too snug or the risk of slipping from an oversized one. The ideal wheelchair dimensions are contingent upon individual factors such as body height, weight, and age. Be aware that wheelchairs are adaptable, with customizable options available for both children and adults, catering to various body types.

Each wheelchair comes with a specified weight capacity. It's essential to be informed about the weight limit of a prospective wheelchair to ensure it can securely support you. It is better to take a stroller with a carrying capacity of 20-30% more than your weight.

#4 Footplates And Armrests

Many models feature footrests that swing away outwardly or even both outwardly and inwardly, facilitating safe and straightforward transfers. When approaching the chair from the front, swing-away footplates allow individuals to avoid stepping over them, assuring an effortless transition to standing.

For those requiring elevated leg positioning or needing to extend their legs due to orthopedic casts, elevating leg rests are available. Additionally, for amputees, there are shorter, cushioned extensions that provide comfort and support for residual limbs.

The armrests of a wheelchair play a dual role in providing seated support and influencing ease of transfer. To aid in this latter objective, especially for those utilizing a transfer board, many wheelchairs are equipped with removable armrests. This feature not only simplifies sideways transfers but also lightens the frame for hassle-free transportation.

A clever design alternative to detachable armrests comes in the form of swing-up arms that pivot at the rear, offering the convenience of not having to store detached parts during transfers.

#5 Wheel Strength

When selecting wheels for your wheelchair, it is crucial to consider their durability and adaptability to your unique lifestyle. For those who frequently venture outdoors, wheels designed for resilience, capable of handling a variety of terrains, are essential.

Opt for low-maintenance tires that minimize the likelihood of incurring costly repairs down the line. Tires with foam-filled interiors, for instance, pose less risk of deflation and could be a practical choice. The efficacy of your wheelchair also hinges on the quality of grip and tread of your wheels, especially for navigating through challenging environments.

#6 Tilt and Back Support

The level of assistance you need from a chair can greatly differ due to various personal aspects such as your health condition, mobility capabilities, stature, and more. It's crucial to select a chair that offers adequate support for your back and head. For individuals who require additional support, tilt-in-space wheelchairs are an excellent choice, offering numerous adjustable positioning choices to cater to your unique requirements and guarantee maximum comfort. Models such as the Maple Leaf Wheelchair Supertilt and Power Plus Super Tilt Plus are crafted to accommodate the wide-ranging needs of many users.

#7 Brakes

Your wheelchair likely comes with hand-operated brakes located by the back wheels. Remember to always use these to stop the chair from moving when you're not using it, or when you're getting in or out of the chair.

Chairs that someone else pushes may have the brakes up by the handles where they push. This is super helpful for the person helping you as it gives them more control, especially if you're going down a steep hill or a ramp. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it might not be possible for you to reach these brakes on your own.


Wheelchair technology has advanced significantly, offering a myriad of options. Everything you need to know to choose a wheelchair yourself can be found in the article. However, selecting the ideal wheelchair that fully caters to your requirements can be challenging. Collaborating with an occupational therapist can provide clarity amidst the multitude of choices. They specialize in tailoring the wheelchair to suit your unique physical needs.

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