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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

A help guide to reclining wheelchairs

Please read our help guide below. If you require further assistance then please call us on our helpline where we can offer advice and guidance.

If you are looking for a reclining wheelchair there are a few key points that need to be considered to ensure that you get the most suitable model for your needs.

First of all let's differentiate between a reclining wheelchair and a tilt in space model. The reclining wheelchair has a seat back rest that reclines while the seat remains static.

Shows the difference between the tilt in space and the reclining wheelchair

With a tilt in space model, the entire seat and back rest recline as one retaining the fixed angle between the both. This has the benefit of keeping the same angle at the hips, knees and ankles as the chair is tilted.

Posture and Pressure

Reclining wheelchairs can reduce good postural positioning. This is where tilt in space can be more suitable. As the body moves as one with a tilting wheelchair there is less chance of pressure areas developing, where the skin and tissue is stretched as the seat back is reclined.

Wheelchair space

One of the biggest considerations is the fact that both of these types of wheelchair become very long when they are tilted or reclined to their full extent. At this point, it is not suitable to move the wheelchair as it is both long and less stable than when it is in an upright position.

The second biggest consideration is how the reclining or tilting action is operated. Most models depend on the carer or attendant to operate the tilt or reclining facility using controls which are on the push handles to the rear of the wheelchair and therefore cannot be operated by the person in the wheelchair. If it can be controlled by the user, do they have sufficient upper body strength and balance to return to the upright position.

Headrest support

The further the seat back is reclined the greater the amount of support is required for the head and upper body. It is important that the headrest is adjustable to allow it to be set to provide the support required.

Leg rests

Elevating leg rests may be required to make the reclining action comfortable particularly on a reclining model. These generally have to be adjusted by a carer or attendant as they generally cannot be reached by the wheelchair user.


Both reclining and tilting wheelchairs can come in transit and self propelled models. Generally the large rear wheels are there to promote overall stability. However, when in the upright position, wheelchairs with large 24" rear wheels with hand rims can be used by the user to propel the wheelchair. Generally, for stability reasons, the rear wheels are set further back than on a conventional self propelled wheelchair which makes it less easy to self propel.

For more detailed help we advise that you speak with an occupational therapist who can provide more specific help based on your condition.