There have been significant technological advances over the past 10 years which has seen improvements to manual wheelchair options available to the Australian market. There is now more choice than ever before in the type, style, and price range of the wheelchair you select. But with all those options available, choosing the right wheelchair for you can be a challenge.
What Is a Manual Wheelchair?
A manual wheelchair is a mobility device with no motor or battery assistance. Individuals propel the wheelchair forward by using their arms to rotate the wheels. They can also be set up for foot propulsion or to have a carer pushing from the rear.
Built from a number of metal options including aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre, manual wheelchairs mostly all follow a similar design pattern and style. They will have four wheels, two large ones used for propelling the chair, and two smaller ones for precision steering control. The configuration of the wheels will vary depending on individual needs. Some models also only have four smaller wheels as they are designed to be operated by a companion or carer from the back.
What Are the Benefits of a Manual Wheelchair?
Manual wheelchairs offer many benefits to their users, making them a great option whatever your mobility needs are. In addition to being an excellent option for everyday usage, manual wheelchairs also come in a variety of dedicated designs suited to sports and recreational usage.
Size and Weight
Manual wheelchairs are significantly lighter and smaller than their powered counterparts. This makes them easier to operate and transport for either the user or their carer.
Transporting and Storage
Their lighter weight, smaller size, and critically foldability, means that manual wheelchairs are incredibly easy to store and transport. This means they can be stored and transported without additional expensive adaptions to your home or vehicle.
Although we encourage the right solution over price, manual wheelchairs are an affordable option for most. Their lower costs make them ideal for users on a budget, while also allowing more room to spend on customisations and accessories. Manual wheelchairs are also cheaper to maintain and service than powered versions.
There are situations whereby a manual wheelchair will be the only option to consider for the activity being performed. This may include boarding an aeroplane, accessing a classroom or going shopping with a family member who has a small car. Manual wheelchairs can also be purchased in models designed for specific sports or activities such as travelling on rough or soft terrain.
What to Consider When Selecting A Manual Wheelchair
When selecting your manual wheelchair, you will be presented with a number of options to consider. To receive the greatest benefit from your new wheelchair, it's essential to select the options that are tailored to you and your usage.
Height and Weight
Different manual wheelchairs will be suited to users with different height and weights. Most models will be able to handle most users, but selecting a model that is the closest match to your size will offer the best comfort and usability. Individual models are available for teenagers and young children as well.
Manual wheelchairs can either be self-propelled by the user or pushed from behind by a carer. Generally, each model can be operated in either mode; however, some are specifically designed for one use. Carer/Companion models, for example, will often include handle-operated brakes to provide better control.
Your wheelchairs intended usage will have a significant impact on the right model to select. If you intend to travel a lot a model that can easily be dismantled and folded for transport is ideal. Alternatively, if you wish to use the wheelchair for sports or on rougher terrain, then specialised models are available to help.
Whatever model of wheelchair you ultimately choose, there will be a variety of accessories available to enhance its usability and comfort. These range from additional cushioning and support to luggage or protective guards to increase safety. Finally, cosmetic customisations are available to personalise your wheelchair to your unique style and taste.
GTK can help you choose the right wheelchair for your needs. Our speciality lies in customising your wheelchair, so you become more independent and active.