Wheelchair Buying Guide: Transit/Travel, Self-Propelled, and Electric
There are three categories of wheelchair: transit (or travel), self-propelled and powered / electric. The type you choose will depend on your personal requirements. Deciding factors include how much help you need with pushing and what kind of journeys you want to make. How frequently and for how long you use your chair is also a consideration.
Travel and Transit Wheelchairs
What do they look like? Transit wheelchairs typically feature fitted handles and smaller rear wheels which make them easy to push and easy to manoeuvre into tight spots.
Who are they designed for? Anyone who requires some assistance in propelling their chair.
When would I use one? A transit wheelchair is the ideal solution for shorter trips, especially if they involve getting in and out of a vehicle as they are designed to be lightweight and quick to fold down. They are also a popular choice as a spare or back-up chair.
WE LOVE: For short journeys and for use when travelling, this travel chair which comes with it's own carry bag. For more day to day use, this lightweight transit chair is great value for money, being lightweight and affordable!
What do they look like? The rear wheels of these lightweight wheelchairs are larger than those of a transit chair and are fitted with push rims to allow self-propulsion.
Who are they designed for? Self-propelled wheelchairs are designed for those who struggle with mobility but are able to push themselves. They typically feature handles so assistance remains an option when the occasion arises.
When would I use one? Self-propelled chairs are very versatile, suiting both indoor and outdoor day-to-day activities. With large rear wheels making them a more comfortable option for longer and regular use, they are a popular option. Furthermore, many models have transport- and storage-friendly design features such as quick-release wheels and detachable parts.
WE LOVE: For day to day use over shorter journeys, this lightweight aluminium chair is great value for money, being lightweight and affordable! The XS2 aluminium chair is slightly more robust and is another great option.
What do they look like? Powerchairs (also called "powered wheelchairs" and "electric wheelchairs") are weightier wheelchairs with thicker, more robust wheels. They are powered by an electric motor and directed by using a joystick or control pad on the armrest.
Who are they designed for? If you struggle to propel yourself yet you want to be fully independent, a powerchair can give you this opportunity.
When would I use one? The popularity of the powerchair is down to its outdoor adaptability. Thicker wheels, powerful motors and advanced built-in technology means that travelling distances, up and down kerbs and over a variety of terrains, is less of a challenge and more of a smooth, stable and enjoyable journey.
10 factors to consider when choosing a wheelchair
- Suitability: does it meet my mobility needs?
- Comfort: will it be comfortable for the amount of time I need to use it for?
- Safety: do the features allow me a safe transfer into and out of the chair?
- Manoeuvrability: is it effortless to handle for me or an attendant?
- Assembly: is it straightforward to dismantle or fold and put up again?
- Storage: will it fit where I would like to store it (i.e. cupboard, car) when folded down?
- Transportability: is it easily moved from one place / vehicle to another?
- Weight: is it manageably lightweight?
- Adaptability: will it cope safely and effectively with different terrains?
- Durability: is it designed to be used as I need, and to last?