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There are three different types of wheelchairs

Attendant / Transit Wheelchairs

Attendant have 4 small wheels and require a carer to push, these are often cheaper and lighter.

Top Tip

Attendant brakes will help when pushing the chair down slopes.

Consider who will be pushing the wheelchair, smaller wheels will make the wheelchair heavier when pushing, this can become difficult on inclines.

The smaller wheels may be less comfortable on rough terrain such as a field or gravel.

Self Propelled Wheelchairs

Self propelled have 2 larger wheels at the back allowing the person to push themselves. Even if the person can only move themselves a little it can still give more independence than an attendant wheelchair.

Top Tip

Wheelchair hoists can lift a wheelchair into some car.

Larger wheels create a smoother ride more suitable for rougher terrain. Some have quick release wheels which when taken off makes the chair lighter to pick up into the car.

Powered Wheelchairs

Powered wheelchairs have an internal battery, this will need to be charged, make sure you can get the chair into the house close to a power socket or that someone can lift the battery out close to a socket. 

They are controlled normally by the person in the chair with a joy stick, this is sensitive and can be tricky to control.

Powered wheelchairs are heavy and don't normally dismantle.

Before buying a wheelchair consider the following points;

Decide how often you intend to use the wheelchair and what you will be using it for. Local organisations hire wheelchairs. Other places such as supermarkets normally keep a stock for visitors to use.

Top Tip

It is possible to fit a power pack to help push a wheelchair.

If the wheelchair is needed for regular use you may be eligible for provision, this is normally dealt with by staff at your GP practice.

You may be in the wheelchair for some time, consider using a cushion for extra comfort or specialised pressure relief cushion if there are concerns with the build up of pressure sores.

Consider the wheelchair size needed, standard seat sizes are normally between 16-22". Most foot rests adjust, you may need a cushion if you have long legs.

Top Tip

Wheelchair footplates are often adjustable.

Are you able to get the wheelchair into the car? Titanium wheelchairs are the lightest but are very brittle and expensive. Most wheelchairs will either come in aluminium or steel. Can the wheelchair fold compactly or separate into pieces for ease of storage?


General support information





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