Wheelchairs Reviews and Buyer’s Guides
Hi! And welcome to RideWheelchairs.com. My name is Linda Ward, and I’ve been working as a developmental disability nurse for more than 10 years. In my time of working, I’ve seen many families and people struggled to buy a wheelchair that suits their needs. I understood that choosing the right wheelchair is not easy, so I started this blog with one sole purpose of helping people to choose the perfect wheelchair.
Because of my kind of job, I have many experiences with wheelchairs, I have the chance to test them, so I’ll try to give honest reviews.
Feel free to browse around the site. You will find plenty of information on wheelchairs. Also, feel free to leave comments and suggestions anywhere on the site, it will only help me improve my site and serve the community better.
How to choose the right wheelchair
Wheelchairs can be divided into manual wheelchairs and powered wheelchairs. Manual wheelchairs are basically lighter and easier to maintain and clean up than powered wheelchairs. However, powered wheelchairs (such as mobility scooters) are better for people who have weak upper body, and wants to travel for long distance.
Which kind of wheelchairs should I buy?
If you’re using a wheelchair for a period of time, then a standard wheelchair will probably a good option. If you’re planning to use wheelchair for quite a long time, ask youself those questions:
- What will I use my wheelchair for?
- Where will I use my wheelchair? And if you’re planning to move around, what kind of surface will I use my wheelchair on?
- How will I get my wheelchair from place to place?
- Will there be anyone to help me?
- If I have any special requirements, what will that be?
I’m sure after spending few minutes answering those questions, you’ll have a good idea what kind wheelchair you’re looking for. On the rare case that you still don’t know what kind of wheelchair you’re looking for, you may seek for assist from nearby hospital, physician or consultant from any wheelchairs vendors. You should always look for advices from professional in this field.
Manual wheelchairs or electric wheelchairs
Manual wheelchairs are way easier to maneuver than powered wheelchairs. They have lighter weight, many wheelchairs are foldable. So you can access to many area of the house with manual wheelchairs.
Manual wheelchairs are usually suitable for people who:
- Require a wheelchair for most of the time, both outdoor and indoor
- Can walk, but require wheelchair to travel long distance
- Have strong upper body or someone around to push
Self-propelled wheelchairs have larger back wheels, and outer rims for the user to push with their hands. Attendant-propelled wheelchairs have smaller back wheels, so they’re easier to maneuver.
Electric wheelchairs & Mobility scooters
Electric wheelchairs (or also known as powered wheelchairs, motorized wheelchairs) have an electric engine, with typically 6 wheels, some models have 4 wheels.
Normally, powered wheelchairs are suitable for people who:
- Have weak upper body, typically elder
- Have noone around to help
- Want to travel for long distance
Powered wheelchairs can be divided into three major categories:
- Indoor: use indoor, or places have smooth flooring. Usually lightweight, and easy to fold for fitting into a car.
- Outdoor: have larger wheels to deal with rough terrain, and suspension system to make the drive smooth. Usually, outdoor powered wheelchairs are not foldable, and heavier, and can be used indoor but may not fit into some narrow spaces.
- Indoor + Outdoor: hybrid between indoor and outdoor powered wheelchairs. Hybrid powered wheelchairs are heavier than indoor wheelchairs, but lighter than outdoor wheelchairs. They are foldable and may fit into vans.
Powered wheelchairs are described as being either Class 2, meaning they can be used outside on pavements, or Class 3, for use on roads and pavements.
Powered wheelchairs are larger and heavier than manual wheelchairs.
Mobility scooters, on the other hand, are perfect choice if you want to travel for long distance. A mobility scooter is like a golf buggy, but works like a powered wheelchair and a scooter. Their speed is around 6-8km/h, and maxium at 15km/h.
Mobility scooters are suitable for people who:
- Want to travel for long distance
- Have trouble walking
- Do not need a wheelchair
Mobility scooters are usually cheaper than a powered wheelchairs (except the premium models, of course).
This is the first criterion you shoud care. Normally, wheelchairs’s seat width is 16 inches, 18 inches, or 20 inches. Pediatric wheelchairs, on the other hand, have average seat width of 14 inches, mean while Bariatric wheelchairs have seat width of up to 30 inches.
Remember, a small seat will make you uncomfortable, but a large seat will make you have hard time reach for the wheel or armrests. So it’s important that you choose the seat that fit you.
The next thing you should be concerned about is seat depth. Seat depth is measured by distance between the front and back of a seat. Measure your from the back of user’s pelvis to the back of their shins, that’s will be the suitable seat depth.
Although the foot rest of a wheelchair is flexible, it’s still important to choose a seat with the right seat depth. But in case you can’t find the perfect one, buy the one with shorter seat depth than your perfect seat depth, because their legs can always put on the legrest.
Back height of a wheelchair is very important. If you tend to spend your a long time on your wheelchair, choosing the right wheelchair’s back height will increase your comfort. Also, soft cushion will make your time on your wheelchair less painful. But if you live in a hot or wet climate, you should choose a wheelchair with breathable back’s material.
You can always buy back support extension to support your neck.
Some wheelchairs have adjustable back rest: length and angle. You should always prefer chairs that have those options.
Arm rests and leg rests
Arm rests have two types: desk length, full length. While desk length arm rests allow you to have easier access to tables and desks, full length arm rests provide better support for your amrs.
Leg rests can be devided into two types: swingaway and elevating. Swingaway leg rests rotate to the side to allow the user to easily get in or out of the wheelchair. Elevating leg rests include a calf pad to raise the legs and prevent swelling. Both types of leg rests are removable. Some leg rests include tool-free adjustment to change the length of the leg rest.
Our evaluating process
Our evaluating process will be conducted with at least 2 professional in the field, let it be physician, developmental disability nurse, wheelchair technician, etc., with at least 1 wheelchair user to give an objective and honest review about the reviewed product.
The product will be used for at least 1 week, and normally 2 weeks, for the best experience from the wheelchair user.
We’ll try not to go in depth with technical numbers, instead, we’ll try to focus into wheelchair user’s experience, such as comfort, mobility, ease of use, comparison to other products in the same line of products, etc.
After all, our final wishes are to help all wheelchair users out there to pick the best wheelchair that suits their need. We want to remove all the struggles that normally whellchair users will have to face while choosing a wheelchair.
We welcome any comments and suggestions, because we know we can’t be perfect at all aspects, but we know one thing for sure that we’ll try our best to improve this website.