Wheelchairs are essentially designed to provide an enhanced degree of mobility to people who are either temporarily or permanently disabled on account of various health conditions. While the traditional wheelchair was manually operated, made with steel as the core material and weighing about 35 pounds, recent advances in healthcare technology have led to the research and design of many types of wheelchairs with great options for customized features.
Wheelchairs can generally be classified as manual wheelchairs and powered ones.
Manual wheelchairs can be pushed by the person using the wheelchair or may be propelled by an attendant for those who lack the strength to do this. Generally, self-propelled wheel chairs have larger wheels at the back, making them bulkier. Now, there are a number of self-propelled wheel chair models with quick release wheels also available for greater ease of use and stowing. Manual wheel chairs are not ideal for those with reduced upper body strength and may also prove to be difficult to get into and out of for some people.
Electric or powered wheelchairs may be advisable for those who require long-term wheelchair use and also when one needs to cover more distance on the wheelchairs. Electric wheel chairs may be designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Those designed for indoor use have lighter tread compared to those designed for outdoor use, which are wider and have a knobby tread. In general, the types of wheelchairs that are powered are likely to be heavier than the manual ones, on account of the battery and motors. Hence, they may not have great ease of transportation. A great advantage of powered wheelchairs over manual ones is that they can be custom made to be controlled using not just the hands, but also the feet, mouth, or even other body parts. This is of special significance to those who have very limited use of their hands and legs.
There are indeed many types of wheelchairs available and it is advisable to thoroughly research what is best suited for an individual before buying one.