Best Wheelchairs | Buyer’s GuideReveiwed by: Jane Anders
If you’re wondering which will still be on sale for several years to come, wheelchairs are merely one of them besides food. Wheelchairs are a medical apparatus that patients use whenever they get delivered to various sections of the hospital. Some patients, the disabled, amputees, the elderly and frail, and some injured people treat wheelchairs as their best companion due to its convenient features. Nowadays, wheelchairs are more innovated and have added features that you must always look for if you want to purchase the best wheelchair. Here, you’ll find five different models from $82 up to $185.
What You Will Learn from This Guide:
How Does it Work?
A wheelchair works with large wheels at its rear. These are self-propelled wheels that users can operate by themselves with ease thanks to the wheel’s outer rim. But note that there are also wheelchairs that are meant for attendants to push it, which have smaller wheels and are intended for patients who can’t operate the wheelchair alone. The tires of the wheelchair are made of solid rubber or pneumatic, with the latter being more capable of absorbing shock and the former being tougher. Most of these wheels have a button for quick release which causes the wheels to be removed quickly for repair or other maintenance purposes.
Brakes and Weight
These are needed to figure out if the wheelchair is easy to use. The brakes are mounted near the rear wheels and should be applied when the wheelchair is not in use or if a patient transfer is needed. Attendant-propelled wheelchairs have the brakes installed at the pushing handles to ensure it is easier to stop the wheelchair when required. The weight of the wheelchair is divided into four categories, with the lightest chairs being the most expensive ones in the market, but the most efficient choice.
The wheels and brakes are the major feature of this apparatus, with the footplates and armrest being the other major parts of the wheelchair. The footplates can be swung outwards or inwards, but most models offer footplates that can go outward only. This is a safety feature for transferring patients if they wish to stand or be moved to a different chair or location without the wheelchair’s aid. These footplates can be detached as well. Some armrests can also be detached from the wheelchair, especially if the patient doesn’t need it. There are armrests purely made of metal, either aluminum or stainless steel, which may be uncomfortable. However, other armrests have cushions to make it as comfortable as a sofa.
What to Look for When Buying a Wheelchair
Wheelchairs are extremely important to observe and compare to avoid any frustration from using it, which may also frustrate the patient and may cause them to suffer even more. So, be sure to look for a quality wheelchair based on the following factors:
- Self-Propelled or Attendant Propelled? – You have to choose whether the wheelchair can be used by the patient, or if it often needs an attendant to transport the patient around. Self-propelled wheelchairs have pushrims at the outer part of the wheel which serve as handles and the reason why the rear wheels are large. Attendant-propelled wheelchairs have smaller wheels and no pushrims as they are unneeded.
- Weight – The wheelchair’s overall weight is defined by the frame’s material. The lighter the frame, the easier to use the wheelchair, especially if the patient is using a self-propelled chair. But the lighter the weight, the pricier it can get. Average frames are made of steel and cost lower for those who need to save money.
- Storage – The storage feature of wheelchairs is just like searching for the best foldable bike. The size we’re talking about here is the chair’s capability to be folded for storage. Most wheelchair models have an upwards folding feature, where you need to pull up the seat. Some wheels and footrests can be detached from the chair for better storage as well.
- Pricing – The price of the wheelchair depends on its overall quality and if there are extra features included with it. Additional features and lightweight frames often add to the cost of wheelchairs, but most wheelchairs don’t usually cost more than $200, with the lightest ones priced above $150.
Top 5 Best Wheelchairs
Based on popular online stores and reviews, here are the top five wheelchairs in the market to give you an easier way to buy the finest apparatus:
Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair
This attendant-propelled wheelchair has small 12-inch wheels to perform efficiently, even on uneven floors and outside surfaces. These wheels can be stopped by using the manual handbrakes that can be locked by pushing it upwards for transferring patients. The foldable frame of the wheelchair is powder coated aluminum, which is also refined for ultralight quality. Therefore, this wheelchair is extremely easy to bring around either when folded or being used by a patient.
An addition to the foldability is the product’s collapsible portable back, which folds down for easy storage. The wheelchair has a permanent desk-length armrest that cannot be detached. However, while it has detachable footrests, it cannot be raised and can only be moved outwards. It also focuses on added safety through its seat belt and upholstery that’s made of comfortable nylon material. It also has an alternate model with a smaller rear wheel that matches the size of the small front wheels. It has a one year warranty.
Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
This self-propelled wheelchair has a modern design using cutting-edge technology to provide a comfortable means when transporting the chair independently. The wheelchair also comes with detachable desk arms that have cushions for a convenient means to use it. The product also comes with a footrest that can be moved outwards and inwards and is connected to a leg rest that can be swung away for additional comfort and support. The chair has nylon materials for its upholstery, with paddings for extra comfort and easy cleanup. The tires of the wheelchair have a safety function where you need to push to lock the chair and are made of durable rubber.
Take note that this wheelchair from Drive Medical doesn’t have any brakes at the handle as the function for locking the chair is already easy. The product has a blue streak at its frame, with a black nylon upholstery and leg rest. The pushrims of the wheelchair are also colored black to match the design of the chair. It has three years’ warranty.
Drive Medical Blue Streak:
Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair
This attendant-propelled wheelchair from Drive Medical is a convenient wheelchair that has a silver vein finish, along with upholstery that’s made of padded nylon that’s durable and easier to clean up. The upholstery of the wheelchair also has a handle that can make the chair a foldable type for easier storage. The backrest of the wheelchair is also foldable for added convenience when transporting it. The armrests are padded with cushions to add comfort when using it and can be detached if the patient doesn’t prefer the desk-length armrest. The footrest of the wheelchair can be swung away for added support and comfort.
The front and rear wheels of the attendant-propelled wheelchair measure 8”, and it comes with a handle that has a lock for completely stopping the wheelchair’s rear wheels. The product is also set at a very light weight thanks to its steel frames that are refined to be lighter than other steel-framed wheelchairs. This is beneficial for transporting patients with ease. The product ensures that its foldability is well-matched with its weight for a better way to carry it around.
Drive Medical Lightweight:
Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair with Elevated Legrests
This is a better version of the previous model of the same name. It has a design that’s unbeatable concerning its overall appearance and functionality. It is also made with light materials to make independent transport much enjoyable for the patient, as the product is built to be self-propelled. The wheelchair has detachable desk arms with cushions attached for comfort. The feature for detaching the armrest makes it easier to remove it when the patient doesn’t need it. It also has an 18” padded nylon wheelchair that has padding to make it more comfortable and easier to clean.
The finest feature of the product is its relaxing leg rests that can be extended upwards for added comfort. The leg rests are also padded with the best quality materials to ensure utmost comfort when sitting down on it. The tires of the wheelchair are extremely durable and are made of solid rubber. The wheels also come with a push-to-lock feature for the rear wheels to stop when needed for transportation or safety purposes. The wheelchair also comes with a calf strap for added comfort and safety as the patient moves around by themselves using the wheelchair. It has a three-year warranty.
Drive Medical with Elevated Leg rests:
Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair
This wheelchair model from Medline is guaranteed to be the top choice for many patients around the world who are active enough to operate the seat by themselves. The flip-back deign of the wheelchair makes it easier to navigate when sitting under desks and tables. The leg rests of the wheelchair can be elevated to add extra comfort. These footrests are detachable when needed, and can be moved inwards and outwards. The nylon upholstery of the seat is extremely soft and comfortable, and it’s extra-padded for the sake of relaxation. The wheel mags of the chair roll smoothly once maintained regularly. Happily, this wheelchair is low-maintenance with tires that are flat-free. The product can be foot powered using its 2” seat-height adjustments.
What’s more appealing about this product is its extremely light weight for a self-propelled wheelchair, earning its place as the finest wheelchair in the market for those who wish to use the chair independently. The product also has a very sleek design made of black and silver (frames), ensuring that it will look “premium” enough as a wheelchair of great quality.
Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly:
Comparative Chart of Best Wheelchairs
|Medline Lightweight||26x12x31 inches||25.5 lbs||Foldable||1 year|
|Drive Medical Blue Streak||36.8x32.5 inches||41.2 pounds||Padded seats||3 years’|
|Drive Medical Lightweight||33x21.5x39 inches||26 pounds||Foldable|
|Drive Medical with Elevated Leg rests||42x24x36 inches||41.2 pounds||Padded seats|
Elevatable leg rests
|Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly||31.5x25.5x36.5 inches||34 pounds||Padded seats|
Elevatable leg rests
Top 5 FAQs
Is Foldability Needed?
The product should be foldable at most times because there will be scenarios where you may need to transport the patient to a different location, and bringing an non-foldable chair can be a hassle. Most wheelchairs that aren’t foldable are often found in clinics and hospitals only. Thus, if you’re a resident, the help of a foldable wheelchair is crucial.
What Size is the Best?
The size of the wheelchair can easily be defined based on the inches of the upholstery. The average size of wheelchairs is set at 18 inches for its upholstery. But take note that there are smaller versions such as 17 inches and bigger models that may reach more than 22″. So be sure to consider the size if you’re using it, or the size of the patient who will need it. There is no specific type for the best size; only the best quality.
Is a Fixed Model Better?
Some wheelchairs have armrests and footrests that can be adjusted, and some are not. The fixed ones are only better if the patient cannot move their legs or may lack it in the first place. Adjustable or detachable armrests and footrests for wheelchairs often increase the price. So, if you want to be more economical concerning your expenses for a wheelchair, especially if the patient can’t move their legs anymore or is paralyzed, then the help of a fixed wheelchair is better.
Does the Wheelchair’s Appearance Matter?
For sure, some patients wish to have a wheelchair in their favorite color, and that is acceptable if aesthetics are your concern. However, if you lack the budget to purchase a fancy looking one, then it’s best to resort to a “plain-looking” wheelchair instead. After all, what matters most in wheelchairs is its performance, not the looks.
Do Wheelchairs Have Accessories?
Wheelchairs do have a wide range of accessories. Here are the following:
- Cushion – These can add comfort to the user when sitting.
- Walking Stick Holder – This helps patients secure their walking sticks when not in use.
- Weather Protector – This is a type of garment that can match the color and quality of the wheelchair, and protects a healthier patient.
- Storage Bags – These serve as the “backpack” of the patient for placing their important items.
Your reason for purchasing one may be personal. So, it all depends whether you want to feel convenient by adding these accessories to the chair.
Tips and Life Hacks
Here are some unique ways to use the product for innovative purposes:
- You can make your wheelchair a lamp for reading books by placing loops on the lamp, so then it can be pulled using a string. You can also purchase or build touch lamps for those who have spinal injuries.
- Attach your shirt to your pants with safety pins so then the shirt won’t ride up your back as you spend the day using the wheelchair. Larger pins work better.
- You can use incense candles if you’re having a hard time reaching the candle to light it up.
- You can prepare salads by yourself by having a cutter bowl. Just place the fruits and veggies in the bowl, and use its mechanism to cut the food in it completely. You can purchase some of these online.
- If you wish to operate some of your accessories on your wheelchair without getting them all wet during rain, then be sure to use a plastic bag. You can use this as a joystick cover for your wheelchair, and you can apply it to your feet and slippers when outside and it suddenly rains. These plastic bags may also serve more purpose such as storage.
Pros and Cons
All products have their advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages may be minimal, but there are a few notable ones that you should understand. Here are the pros and cons of a wheelchair:
- Easy to carry around.
- Can be folded.
- Footrests and armrests can be detached.
- Comes with brakes for safety.
- Built with nylon to ensure comfort.
- Prone to breakdown and very easy to fix.
- Some lack extra features.
- Other armrests and footrests are permanent.
- Some have smaller seats
- Other models are above 40 pounds.
Wheelchairs still play an important role for a patient’s mode of transportation. A wheelchair is also a symbol of love and care, as seen on its handles which are meant to support those who are sitting in it. It’s simply a medical apparatus that shows how much the patient is valued so they can at least have an easier time moving from place to place. That’s why it’s best to show utmost care and love by purchasing the finest wheelchairs in the market.