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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Heavy duty wheelchairs - a buyers guide

Heavy duty wheelchairs or bariatric wheelchairs as they are sometimes called are designed to cater for larger users. Requirements of a heavy duty wheelchair are not only catering for extra weight but also the typically larger size of a heavy user.

A Esteem heavy duty bariatric wheelchair with attendnat brakes The Esteem heavy duty self propelled bariatric wheelchair with attendant brakes

For this reason, bariatric wheelchairs generally come with wider seats to accommodate the larger user and ensure that they are comfortable and suitably supported in their extra wide wheelchair.

Click here to view the Esteem heavy duty bariatric wheelchair

To view our extensive range of extra wide heavy duty bariatric wheelchairs please click here

Extra wide wheelchairs

These increases in strength and width require design changes in the wheelchair to ensure that the structural features are in place to support the extra weight and width.

It is important to bear in mind that there are other considerations to make when buying a heavy duty wheelchair. These considerations reflect the users environment as much as the wheelchair itself. As an example, an extra wide wheelchair is going to be less easy to pass through a standard width door frame than a regular wheelchair with an 18" seat.

 An extra wide heavy duty wheelchair viewed from the side The Roma 1473X bariatric wheelchair. An extra wide self propelled heavy duty wheelchair with a 26" wide seat

Standard wheelchairs are typically designed to accommodate users up to 18 stone or 115 KG. These standard models have seat widths of 16" or 18" which means their overall width including the wheels is approximately 23" to 25" wide which means that they can pass through a regular internal doorway which tend to be 2ft 6in wide. View the Roma bariatric wheelchair here.

When assessing yourself for a heavy duty extra wide wheelchair it is wise to consider your strength and independence as this will affect the type of wheelchair you will need. If your upper body strength is good and your exercise tolerance is adequate then you may want to opt for a self propelled wheelchair rather than a transit model that requires an attendant to propel you.

When looking at a bariatric wheelchair one other consideration is to look at the construction of the footplates. Some people prefer metal foot plates as they provide extra durability and will bear greater weight with ease.

Heavy duty self propelled wheelchairs

If you opt for a self propelled heavy duty wheelchair then you also need to allow additional space for your hands as they will be in contact with the push rims when you are on the move. For this reason it is a good plan to evaluate the tasks that you will want to undertake from the wheelchair then you can ensure that the model you select supports your requirements.

As a wheelchair gets wider, then its turning circle increases too making it less manoeuvrable in confined spaces. This is because the distance between the rear wheels on which you pivot will increase as the seat width does. This will have some knock-on effect in the use of the chair inside the home.

Comfort in a heavy duty wheelchair

If you expect to use your bariatric wheelchair for much of the day then it is important to consider how best to maintain appropriate levels of comfort and avoid potential problems from pressure areas where your body can suffer. A good way to conquer these potential problems is to use a good quality heavy duty wheelchair cushion which can provide padding where needed, reduce the chance of pressure sores and create a comfier environment. The cushion also has to fit the chair well so that there are no big gaps between the cushion and the wheelchair frame. View our extra wide wheelchair cushion here.

Heavy duty transit wheelchairs

If you decide that a self propelled model is not suitable for you then a transit alternative might well be the way forward. If this is the case, then you will need to factor in the weight of the chair and your weight and check that the wheelchair attendant is capable of manoeuvring and controlling the wheelchair while on the move. For this reason, a transit wheelchair with attendant brakes is a good idea as these will enable the attendant to control the chair with ease when making turns and while descending inclines where it is necessary to slow the momentum of the wheelchair.

An extra wide bariatric transit wheelchair An extra wide bariatric transit wheelchair for users up to 32 stone or 200kgs in weight

View the Sentra bariatric transit wheelchair here

When heavy duty wheelchairs are designed and manufactured there are a few areas where performance is enhanced to cater for the increased weight. These are primarily concerned with the strength of the frame but also extend to the upholstery fabric and fixings. Typically, an extra wide heavy duty wheelchair will have additional cross bracing to ensure a strong frame on which the seat is mounted. In addition the weld joints are typically reinforced to take the added weight and cope with the knocks and bumps that are encountered on a daily basis.

Folding heavy duty wheelchairs

Most wheelchair frames are constructed using aluminium or steel. Steel is more likely to be used when greater strength is needed to support the increased weight although in some more expensive models other string materials like aluminium can be used to help reduce the overall weight of the wheelchair. Virtually all bariatric or extra wide heavy duty wheelchairs have the ability to fold but as the chair gets wider, the folding action becomes less easy due to the increased weight and the increased bulk.

When you are about to make a purchase of a heavy duty wheelchair you may want to look to see what accessories are available. Most wheelchair accessories will fit most wheelchairs however there are a few which are specific to bariatric extra wide wheelchairs that may be worth considering to improve user comfort levels.

To view our extensive range of extra wide heavy duty bariatric wheelchairs please click here