A Guide to Choosing the Right Wheelchair for You

Do you have difficulty getting around? If so, choosing the right wheelchair for your needs is essential. You deserve the freedom and independence that a wheelchair can provide.

This guide will take you through the process of finding the right mobility solution for you.

The introduction to this guide is intended to provide you with the basic information needed to choose the right wheelchair for your individual needs. In this section, we will discuss why you need a wheelchair, the types of chairs available, essential features that must be considered during selection, and factors that should be taken into account when making a final decision.

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that choosing a wheelchair is a very personal process. There are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions as different individuals have different needs. Therefore, it is essential that you take some time to ensure that you select the right chair for your specific situation by understanding your needs and identifying what features will best meet those needs.

When considering which wheelchair is right for you, it is important to understand the differences between manual wheelchairs and power wheelchairs. Manual wheelchairs generally require more effort from the user by propelling the chair via foot rims or handrims in order to move forward or backward. Power wheelchairs provide motorized assistance which can help make movement easier; some models are even able to climb hills or inclines. Manual wheelchairs are often more affordable than power chairs but they typically require more strength and coordination from users in order to move forward or backward effectively.

In addition, there are several features that must be considered when selecting a wheelchair such as width and seat depth, cushioning options (e.g., foam or gel), arm type (elevating versus swing away arms), leg rests (elevating versus detachable) durability/weight capacity/frame material type, transportability/foldability size category (standard/lightweight), tires/casters size etc… Taking into account all of these factors can help narrow down what type of chair would best suit your individual needs and lifestyle.

Importance of choosing the right wheelchair

A wheelchair can significantly improve the lives of persons with mobility issues and impairments. The right wheelchair will provide the user with comfort, stability, adaptability and portability. Finding a wheelchair that is suited to the user’s needs will provide greater satisfaction with their quality of life. Because the process for selecting a suitable wheelchair can be somewhat lengthy and complex, this guide outlines a few important points to consider when researching and purchasing a wheelchair.

When deciding on the appropriate wheelchair, it is important to consider the following: physical measurements such as height, weight, leg size and strength; lifestyle requirements such as distance required for travel; features such as propulsion system (manual or powered); customizing options like arm rests, leg rests and cushions; budget constraints; overall design preferences; and warranties from manufacturers. Additionally, referral from professionals such as occupational therapists play an important role in selecting the most suitable product among several options.

The use of assistive devices can alleviate stress in daily life by providing more efficient movement. It is essential that you research on different wheelchairs offered by various manufacturers before making any purchase decision. By considering factors related to physical ability, lifestyle needs , price range , personalized comfort , design preference , accessories offered by manufacturer and warranties available , you become better-equipped when making your choice. Utilizing online reviews or asking individuals who are currently using wheelchairs may also be helpful in deciding which model best suits your specific needs.

Considerations before choosing a wheelchair

When you are considering the purchase of a wheelchair, there are many factors that need to be considered. The size, weight, and style of the wheelchair should always be taken into consideration. The user’s overall health and physical abilities will also play an important role in selecting the best option for their needs.

Before settling on any one particular wheelchair, consider:

  • User height and weight: Most wheelchairs have weight limits as well as user heights that must be taken into account before making a purchase.
  • How often the wheelchair will be used: This can help determine how often spare parts may need to be replaced or maintained.
  • A person’s lifestyle: Depending on how often they go out, what activities they participate in, or where they plan on using it most often, these factors will determine the type of chair needed.
  • Easy maneuverability: The user must feel comfortable in the chair and make sure it is easy to maneuver in areas such as shopping malls or parks without feeling fretted or unsafe about its use.
  • Overall comfort: Comfort is important when it comes to riding around in any kind of vehicle for extended periods of time; this includes wheelchairs too so make sure that comfort is taken into account before investing in one model over another?

Mobility needs

When considering the purchase of a wheelchair, it is essential to understand your individual requirements and lifestyle. Wheelchairs come in a variety of sizes, styles, and capabilities, so it is important to select a chair that will meet your needs now, as well as provide flexibility for changes in the future.

Before beginning your search for a chair, consider the following questions:

  • Will you be regularly transporting the chair in and out of vehicles? If so, what size dimensions would best suit your needs?
  • What type of terrain will you be navigating on a day-to-day basis? Is it relatively flat or hilly terrain?
  • How often will you need to use the wheelchair during everyday activities such as shopping or going to work/school?
  • What type of environment do you operate in most frequently and how often do you anticipate being outdoors versus indoors?

These are just some important aspects to consider when determining if a particular wheelchair design is right for you.

Physical abilities

Once you have determined your lifestyle and understand the different types of wheelchairs, it’s time to focus on your own physical abilities. Ask yourself the following questions:

How to choose the right wheelchair: NHS, hire or buy your own? - Which?

-Can I propel my chair by myself?

-If I cannot propel my chair, do I need someone else to do so for me?

-Can I transfer from a regular chair or bed onto a wheelchair?

-What kinds of wheels can I use in order to make sure I move freely?

Based on these answers, you can choose the type of wheelchair that best fits your needs. Consider choosing a power wheelchair if you have difficulty propelling or maneuvering a manual wheelchair. Also consider selecting wheels with certain features; the type and size of the wheels depends on where you intend to use them. For example, large rear wheels allow for faster movement and greater stability, while small front casters make it easier to turn corners. If you experience difficulty in transferring from one surface onto another, look into a specialized seat cushion, seat cushions connected with straps or chest harnesses, or reclining backs which offer ease in transitioning from sitting to lying down positions.

Lifestyle and activities

When choosing a wheelchair, it’s important to consider how you will use it in your everyday life. Depending on the wheelchairs that are available in your area, you may want to consider something designed exclusively for certain activities — like an specialty all-terrain wheelchairs for outdoor use. As well as comfort and convenience, you should also consider how easy to transport your wheelchair and store it when not in use.

For example:

-If you plan to mostly be outdoors, or even in areas with varied terrain and inclines, an all-terrain or off-road power wheelchair might be a good choice. These wheelchairs often have wider tires and better shock absorption systems that make them ideal for rough terrain.

-If you have activity limitations due to health or injury, finding a lightweight manual wheelchair may be more practical than a heavy power chair. Many manual wheelchairs also come with adjustable features like adjustable armrests and leg rests that can help provide support while still maintaining maneuverability on uneven surfaces.

-Transport wheelchairs are designed for taking out of the home – these chairs are extremely portable and lightweight with only three or four wheels, but usually do not offer the same level of comfort as other full sized wheelchairs do.

III. Features to look for in a wheelchair

When you’re choosing a wheelchair, it’s important to consider a few key features. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting your wheelchair:

  1. a) Weight Capacity – Make sure your wheelchair is rated to safely support your weight.
  2. b) Frame Material – Wheelchairs come in different materials like aluminum, steel, and titanium. Choose the material that will best meet your needs and budget.
  3. c) Backrest Support – Consider how much backrest support you need for lower or upper body stability and comfort. Some wheelchairs have adjustable back heights and adjustable recline angles. There are also tilt-in-space options for some models that allow for increased positioning options to optimize pressure management, maintain an upright posture and prevent postural asymmetries in static seating applications with limited movement potential.
  4. d) Armrests – Armrests should provide cushioned support for long hours of sitting while allowing for freedom of movement when necessary. The arm height should be adjustable so you can customize the fit for comfort in any environment including desks or tables. Look for swing away arms if you need needed easy access to transfer out of the chair or as space savers when maneuvering between tight spaces such as doorways or hallways more easily!
  5. e) Front Caster Wheels – It is important to consider whether fixed caster wheels (non-adjustable wheels with no suspension system) or suspension caster wheels (adjustable wheels with shock absorbers and suspension systems) are more suitable for your needs. Suspension caster elevate the chair up even over obstacles making it easier on terrain like grass, gravel and uneven pavement where regular ground surfaces cause discomfort when rolling over them on a rigid framed wheelchair with non-adjustable wheels without cushioning systems.
  6. f) Leg rests/Footplates – Legs rests provide support for extended seating periods as well as providing a base/angle from which leg activity can occur (i.e., pedaling). Some models have swing away footplate options that allow them to swing out to allow easier access while seated in the chair when getting into tight spaces such as hallways or elevators. They should work seamlessly with foot pedals providing proper hip flexion while maintaining comfort during these activities too!

Seat size and height

A well-fitting chair is the most important factor to consider when selecting the right wheelchair. It must be comfortable enough to last through the complete duration of your activity and should provide adequate support while you are seated. The size of the seat must not only accommodate you, but also render itself suitable for fitting in any public area accessibly. Here are some points to keep in mind for choosing a seat size:

  1. Width: You will want your new wheelchair to have a firm but comfortable fit that does not leave any space between your body and the sides of the chair. Measure from hipbone to hipbone when determining an appropriate width for your body, as this is what matters most for comfortable seating.
  2. Seat depth: Measured from the back of one thigh to the back of another, this dimension impacts both comfort and safety. A deeper cushion helps with pressure relief but can be too deep if it goes past your knee joint, so it is best to measure roughly two inches below kneecap as well before settling on one wheelchair seat size.
  3. Height: Measure from sitting surface up and make sure that even after adjusting footrests, you will still stay at a safe height in relation to desks or other surfaces you’ll interact with while seated in a wheelchair (e.g., food tables).

Backrest and armrests

Backrest and armrests are important for both comfort and security. Make sure that the backrest is adjustable so that you or the user can sit comfortably, as well as slip easily in and out of the chair. An adjustable backrest also allows for a range of body positions to be used in order to improve overall posture.

Adjustable armrests, meanwhile, provide security and stability, as well as making transfers easier. It is also important to consider whether the armrests will be able to support them when engaging with activities like reading, eating, writing or crafts. The materials used should be lightweight yet strong enough to handle daily wear-and-tear.

In addition, ensure that backrest and armrests are easy to clean and maintain on a regular basis.

Footrests and leg supports

In addition to choosing between manual and powered chairs, there are a range of footrest and leg support options available for wheelchairs. Depending on your needs, you might need different types of footrests and supports.

How to choose the right wheelchair: NHS, hire or buy your own? - Which?


Footrests come in two basic types: swingaway or elevating. Swingaway rests can be pulled away from the wheelchair when needed for easier entry/exit, and for transfers to other surfaces or seating. Elevating rests also provide better access but are designed to raise the feet above the seat level, promoting circulation in legs as well as providing a more natural position while seated.

Leg Supports

Leg supports can be an important consideration when it comes to chair comfort and functionality appropriately positioning your body in relation to the chair arm and back supports so ensure these are adjustable based on your specific needs. Leg support options include leg extensions, abduction wedges, adductors, lateral pivots, adjustable thigh supports, posterior pelvic supports and knee gutter wedge or knee separator plates.


Choosing a wheelchair can be a daunting and overwhelming task. We hope this guide has given you the necessary guidance to know what type of wheelchair is right for you. It is important to remember that the right wheelchair will depend on your individual needs, lifestyle, and preferences. Wheeling yourself around in the ideal chair can make a huge difference in terms of your mobility and daily life.

We understand that you may still have questions or concerns when it comes to selecting the right wheelchair for your needs. Speak with your healthcare provider or contact an experienced medical supplier for more information as needed to ensure that you make the best selection possible.


How do I choose the right wheelchair for me? 

To choose the right wheelchair for you, consider factors such as your mobility needs, physical condition, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

How do I choose a wheelchair for an elderly person? 

When choosing a wheelchair for an elderly person, consider factors such as their physical abilities, comfort, ease of use, and any specific medical needs they may have.

What are the features of a good wheelchair? 

Some features of a good wheelchair include comfortable seating, adjustable height and width, lightweight and durable frame, and ease of maneuverability.

How do you measure a wheelchair for a person? 

To measure a wheelchair for a person, measure the width of their hips, the length of their legs, and the height of their torso, and choose a wheelchair that matches these measurements.

What are three basic types of wheelchairs? 

The three basic types of wheelchairs are manual, power, and transport.

What is a Type 5 wheelchair? 

There is no standard “Type 5” wheelchair. Wheelchair classification varies by manufacturer and country.

Which brand is best for wheelchair? 

There is no one “best” brand for wheelchairs, as different brands may excel in different areas. Some well-known wheelchair brands include Invacare, Permobil, and Sunrise Medical.

Which wheelchair is easiest to push? 

Lightweight manual wheelchairs with smooth-rolling wheels and good maneuverability are generally the easiest to push.

What is better than a wheelchair? 

Depending on the individual’s needs and abilities, alternative mobility aids such as walkers, crutches, or scooters may be better than a wheelchair.

What is the most common wheelchair? 

The most common type of wheelchair is the manual wheelchair, which is propelled by the user or a caregiver pushing the wheels by hand.

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