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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Wheelchair help guide - How to pick the right model

This is a brief guide aimed at helping to explain the factors to consider when buying a conventional wheelchair. When we say conventional, we mean an off-the-shelf standard manual wheelchair and not an electric model.

For some users, there are complex specialist requirements that are needed to cater for specific conditions. If this is the case then a conventional wheelchair might not be suitable and you will need to get advice from your occupational therapist or other medical advisor.

What is the difference between the different types of wheelchair ?

Self-propelled and transit are the two main types of manual wheelchair. The difference is whether you intend to propel yourself in the chair using the rear wheel push rims or expect to need the help of another able bodied person to push and steer you.

The main difference between self propelled wheelchairs is the rear wheel size and self propelled models have larger rear wheels which have side rims that you use to propel yourself along.  Although self propelled wheelchairs are intended for the occupant to propel, they will generally come with push handles to the rear so that in certain conditions you can get the assistance of an attendant.

The choice of transit or self propelled boils down to your strength and ability to propel and steer your chair. When using a self propelled wheelchair you steer the wheelchair by applying more rotation to one wheel than the other, thus making the required turn.

Transit wheelchairs use smaller rear wheels by comparison. These make it easier for the attendant or assistant to manoeuvre the wheelchair. Because the wheels are smaller, transit wheelchairs tend to be lighter and more compact. This is something that you will need to consider as it will affect the ease of storage and of transportation i.e. putting the wheelchair in the boot of the car.

When it does come to storing and transporting, most models have quick release rear wheels which allows you to reduce the space needed and also the weight as the chair can then be lifted without the wheels attached making it lighter and more manoeuvrable.

The bottom line is that there are no rules about which type is best. If you are able to propel yourself you will obviously have greater independence in a self propelled wheelchair and also have the option to be able to be pushed when needed.

Please feel free to call us if you would like some help in selecting the best wheelchair for your needs.