Wheelchairs are among the most common mobility aids used for assistance. In addition to providing mobility assistance and movement, they can quickly become aids of empowerment and support for those using it.

They are immensely helpful in increasing the quality of life and providing independence for those with disabilities or the elderly. If you were looking for a one-stop place for all the important information you need to know before buying a wheelchair, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading.

Who Needs them?

One of the first questions to answer before purchasing is to decide what kind of mobility aid is required to support the disability. Different support aids like walking sticks or canes, walkers, crutches etc., may be suitable for different needs.

Wheelchairs are most commonly used by people who may have difficulty in walking and lower limb movements owing to paraplegia or quadriplegia due to injury to the spinal cord or by people with muscular dystrophy. In these cases, wheelchairs can assist persons with a disability in gaining freedom of movement and increasing their quality of life.


Types of Wheelchairs

There are mainly two types of wheelchairs used in mobility assistance - manual and electric. Considering certain factors, one can decide if they need a manual or electric wheelchair.

  1. A manual wheelchair is the one that you have to push yourself. They usually have handles at the back so another person can push them. In addition, manual wheelchairs have larger wheels at the back so that the person sitting in them can use them to propel movement.
    Manual chairs are a good choice for those who can walk with a walker or stick and need a chair only for longer distances. It’s also suitable for those who have strong upper body strength, required to push the chair around.
  2. Electric wheelchairs, also known as power wheelchairs, are operated with batteries that can be controlled with a remote. They usually have smaller wheels than manual ones since they don’t need to be pushed around manually. Electric wheelchairs can be considered a good option for those suffering from significant mobility loss and for those who don’t have the upper strength and endurance to push the chair around. It’s also the preferred option for those who live alone or don’t want to be dependent on others for movement.
  3. Reclining wheelchairs are chairs that operate on a hydraulic mechanism and can be tilted or reclined as needed. The tilting will help the patient change positions from sitting to lying down. This helps them take a break from sitting in one position for too long. It also helps the patient avoid pressure sores, helps with hypotension, makes it easier to transfer from the bed to the chair and assists with helping the patient with body waste.
  4. Commode and Shower wheelchairs are a beneficial bathroom aid for the elderly and disabled. They can be used to shower in and avoid slips and falls. These chairs can either come with a removable waste bucket making them a commode wheelchair, or without. Commode wheelchairs can be a great aid to people for whom using the toilet and washroom is difficult. They come with a detachable waste bucket that can be cleaned and disinfected after every use.

Things to Consider before purchasing one

The best person to recommend a wheelchair will be your doctor or physical therapist. Likely, they will also recommend what type you should get depending on your disability. You should consider several factors before deciding what type of wheelchair is the most suitable for your needs.

  1. Will you be pushing it around, or will you have assistance?
  2. Do you plan to use the chair outdoors often?
  3. Will you be travelling long distances often?
  4. Endurance and upper body strength
  5. Will you need your chair to tilt or recline?


These are a couple of things you should consider and discuss with your doctor or physical therapist before making a purchase. Since they can be expensive, you want to make sure you invest in them for the right reasons and the right kind of requirement.

Different mobility aids can provide relief and support for different injuries and disabilities. Not everyone will necessarily require a wheelchair. Therefore it is important to analyse your needs and requirements so that you can make the best possible purchase for yourself or a loved one.

Sources :

How to Choose a Wheelchair
Role of the Wheelchair - Physiopedia