Medical Wheelchair

 Choosing the Right One


If you are in need of a medical wheelchair, you may be overwhelmed by the choices available.  There are many manual and motorized wheelchairs on the market, and it can be tough to make a decision.  We’ll give you some tips on selecting the right chair for you.

Of course, you don’t have to make the decision on your own.  If your doctor or physical therapist is recommending you use a medical wheelchair, they can help you choose the right one.  You can also schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to help you select the right chair.


Wheelchair Mobility

Wheelchair mobility is of course an important factor to consider.  With the right medical wheelchair, the user can get around easily and maintain an active lifestyle.

Wheelchairs can be made from a variety of materials, and some are heavier than others.  Motorized wheelchairs are often quite heavy.  A user of a motorized chair usually requires a van with a wheelchair ramp or lift in order to travel, because the chair cannot easily be stored in a car trunk for transport.

Some manual wheelchairs can be folded down for storage or for transport in a car.  Folding wheelchairs are good choices for those who don’t use a wheelchair all the time.  Those who do use a wheelchair all the time, though, may prefer a rigid wheelchair.  These are often lighter weight and may include special features not available in a folding wheelchair, such as customized backrests, seat cushions, and foot pedals.  Rigid wheelchairs often come apart for transporting in the car (for instance, the rear wheels can often be removed).

Wheelchairs come with a variety of wheel sizes.  A chair with large wheels is appropriate for people who will be pushing themselves.  A chair with smaller wheels is appropriate for a chair that will be pushed by an attendant.  Some chairs have rear wheels that are slanted inward.  This is common in sports wheelchairs.

Manual Vs. Motorized Wheelchairs

A manual medical wheelchair is often the best choice for people who are able to push themselves.  They are lighter weight than motorized wheelchairs and can often be folded down.  They are also a good choice for chairs that will be pushed by an attendant.

However, some people are not able to push themselves but are able to operate a motorized chair using a joystick or even a breath-activated device (think Christopher Reeves).  Motorized chairs provide the greatest mobility for these people.  Obviously a chair that can be operated by the user, whether a manual chair or a motorized one, provides the greatest level of independence.


Wheelchairs come in a variety of weights.  As mentioned earlier, motorized chairs are usually pretty heavy.  Manual chairs can vary quite a bit in weight, however.  Folding chairs typically weight anywhere from 33 – 44 pounds, which doesn’t sound too bad but can be cumbersome when lifting the chair in and out of a car trunk.  There are lightweight chairs available that weight as little as 15 pounds.  The lightest weight chairs are made of titanium instead of aluminum and are often used by those involved in sports.


Cost shouldn’t have to be a factor in choosing motorized wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs, but unfortunately it sometimes is.  If you need a medical wheelchair, Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance policies will often cover the cost.  Medical supply stores and wheelchair manufacturers will often help you arrange for coverage for your chair.  They may also offer financing if there is no insurance coverage for a chair.

Recommended Products

You can follow these links to learn more about the specific features and costs of Motorized and Manual wheelchairs.  The links will take you to, which is the largest and most reputable online medical equipment dealer.  One of the things we really like about their site is the customer reviews section.  The reviews can be very enlightening as to specific features and problems with different wheelchairs.  Amazon is also known for having the best prices for both motorized and manual wheelchairs.



Additional Reading:  To learn more about buying a motorized wheelchair, a lightweight wheelchair or wheelchair batteries, just follow the links provided.  We also have reviews of Quickie wheelchair and Invacare wheelchairs.  For information on wheelchair accessories such as a wheelchair cup holder, wheelchair gloves, wheelchair tires or wheelchair lifts for vans, just follow the links.  For our most recent articles on power wheel chairs or an all terrain wheelchair, follow these links.  If your considering an outdoor mobility scooter, be sure to read our sections on medical scooters and mobility scooter carriers.  Finally, if you need help selecting the right power lift recliner chair, be sure to read our review of the La Z Boy lift chair.



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