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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Wheelchairs designed for the Paralympics

We sell a wide range of wheelchairs for everyday use including transit models, self propelled wheelchairs models reclining wheelchairs and lots more to ensure there is a model to suit everyone depending on their disability and particular requirements. Sports wheelchairs are however a different ball game and are generally bespoke or custom made to fit the particular athlete and their sport.

So with the Paralympics in Rio just around the corner we thought we would take a quick look at these and see exactly what is on offer for those involved in the various sporting disciplines.

Racing wheelchairs are generally three wheeled models that are build for one thing and that is speed. Designed to literally fit the user these long wheelbase models are built using lightweight materials to give the athlete the best possible power to weight ration.

In wheelchair rugby the key feature is of course strength as they need to withstand knocks and blows when they collide with their team players and opponents.

Other key features that vary from sport to sport are the wheelchair rims, this is primarily because the muscles used in the different sports vary so the push rims do also. In racing the muscles used are all about pushing the wheelchair forward whereas in wheelchair basketball for example there is more focus on explosive power due to the frequent and rapid changes in direction in the game. This requires very strong back muscles and the ability to pull the rims to give the directional change.

In a basketball chair, athletes sit higher than on a racing chair, thus are using a bigger push rim that can range from 60-68cm in diameter, compared to 35-39cm.

The other significant difference on sporting wheelchairs for each discipline is the seating arrangement. Athletes who ave the least function in their lower body have more a bucket seat that gives greater stability and typically have higher backrests. This often depends on the point system used for grading athletes which is based on their lower body function.  These chairs used in basketball will often have 5 or 6 wheels to give greater stability and reduce their risk of tipping.

Wheels will also vary and particularly the camber they are set up. Increased camber of up to 20 degrees gives the wheelchair greater ability to turn faster and are frequently used in both basket ball and tennis. In these sports the wheelbase is often wider again for the same reason.

Racing chairs on the other hand have 10-15 degrees of camber, mostly for lateral stability, especially around turns. Athletes with greater body function will have reduced camber as they are more able to lean their body to affect the turn.

Finally in the more contact prone sports the wheelchairs will often be fitted with bumpers of sorts to lessen the impact on the wheelchair frame when a collision occurs. Side panels or wings are also used for this reason and also to give the athlete better protection from injury.

For more information of the wheelchairs available and what is used in which sports please visit the Paralympic web site

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