Several factors come into play when purchasing a new wheelchair. The buyer needs to have the assurance that the chair they are considering is one of absolute quality, and supports them for the years that follow by providing maximum comfort and mobility for the user, unhindered by possible obstacles. While there are innumerable modern models currently on the market, lightweight wheelchairs are fast becoming a preferred choice of aid, empowering people to do things on their own while facing greater freedoms.
The benefits of lightweight wheelchairs
Performing your everyday tasks and getting places becomes easier due to a variety of benefits lightweight wheelchairs experienced by the user.
Larger wheels allowing for swift manoeuvring
Wash the dishes, clean and perform other household chores easily. The power of its larger wheel allows you to move freely, without putting too much strain on your arms.
The type of wheel attached to your chair allows for a smoother, more cushioned movement so that you can navigate your way across uneven terrain without feeling every bump along the way.
Your range of motion will also increase as you’re in full control over where you go, meaning the chair can be used to fit most scenarios, from riding along smooth pavements, over patchy, uneven grass or working out at the gym.
Portable and light: easy to carry and store when not in use
The average lightweight wheelchair weighs around 14 kilograms, with some, like the ultra lightweight model weighing as little as 8kgs. Do your shopping or visit the park without assistance and not feel ‘held back’, as you would when feeling the strain when using a heavier chair.
The lightness of the chair allows for easier self-propelling, making the need for a full-time carer unnecessary, a liberation that might lessen your frustrations and restrictions that come with being a wheelchair user.
The lightweight frame is collapsible, meaning they won’t take up a lot of space and can be stored out of the way when not in use. At the same time, setting up your chair isn’t complicated or time-consuming and usually doesn’t require expertise or a carer to help, thus further emphasising your independence.
Distribution of weight
The contraption might weight little, but its sturdy and comfortable frame can support wearers who are 113 kilograms or less.
Are there any limitations?
If you do not have accessories and add-ons fitted on your chair, long distance travelling is ill-advised. This is partly because of the damage on your fingers and hands after prolonged use and the possible wear and tear of the chair itself.
One particular challenge that you will initially come across is adapting to self-propelling, in that you have to be taught the right techniques and learn how to gain complete control of the contraption should you not require the assistance of a carer, a task which takes practice, patience with yourself and perseverance. The experience differs for every person, but once you ascertain your boundaries and gain enough strength in your upper arms as well as develop muscle memory, self-propulsion becomes as second-nature as breathing, where reverting to motorised joysticks or requiring assistance is no longer an option.
Types and universal key features
Like vehicles, there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all.” There are different types and features catering to weight, height, preference and lifestyle.
Folding chairs are best for occasional use, as the rear wheel can be removed, allowing it to fit into tiny spaces. While rigid chairs are better for everyday use because they weigh less than folding chairs, as they don’t require additional removable parts to function smoothly.
Handles for the carer or handrims if you opt for the self-propelling mode. The handrims are ergonomically built, providing extra protection against injury and painful blisters.
Back support with some having more cushion than others. Accessories are readily available to ensure maximum comfort.
Armrests, providing the desired support for the arms, ranging from desk-length armrest that allows the user to sit close to desks and tables to full-length armrest that enables full, uncompromised support.
The wheel, the size and structure vary from chair-to-chair, the sport’s model, for example, have ones that slope out more for balance and speed.
A movable footrest that folds away, preventing an obstruction as you move in and out, and supports the user while seated. Footrests usually can’t be elevated or lowered, and so add-ons like leg rests with calf pads are advisable should you need extra support.
Adjustable frames, some models have the feature, which allows the angle of the seat to change to achieve various seating positions.
Breaks, either high or low breaks. High breaks are easier to use but can get in the way when pushing or moving out of the chair, shortfalls that low breaks compensate for.
Wheelchair cost and maintenance
Buying a chair is similar to buying a car; you need to weigh up the costs involved, especially where maintenance is concerned.
Ask the right questions, like how much would it costs to repair the parts and how regularly a service is required to ensure its functionality.
In the example of lightweight chairs, the parts need to be oiled, nuts and bolts tightened and tyres checked for wear and tear. Be sure to keep an eye on the tyres as you would a car: its traction needs to be deep enough for a grip. Old and balding tyres need to be replaced with new ones.
At the same time, while lightweight chairs are preferable due to their weight, but extra accessories may need to be bought, which adds to the overall costs of things.
Being wheelchair dependent should not set you back. Live the life you want completely unassisted by others can be achieved with a wheelchair that gives you the support you need.