What is a Wheelchair?

A wheelchair is a device that aids in mobility. It is typically used by people who have a medical condition and have limited mobility.

When someone thinks of a wheelchair, the first thing that might come to mind is a manual wheelchair. A wheelchair, however, is as unique as the individual is using it. There are different kinds of wheelchairs that serve people with a wide array of needs, from ambulatory wheelchair users to complex rehab wheelchair users.

Types of Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are the most common wheelchairs that people are familiar with. It is a chair with two large wheels on the side that resemble bicycle wheels. As the name indicates, the wheelchair user maneuvers the chair manually. There are two ways to maneuver a manual wheelchair. You can choose to propel yourself with the use of your arms or someone else can push the wheelchair via handlebars on the back of the chair.

Another type of wheelchair is a power wheelchair, also known as a motorized wheelchair or electric wheelchair. People use power wheelchairs because they are unable to use a manual wheelchair or an electric scooter. Unlike manual wheelchairs, a joystick is used to control the movement of the motorized wheelchair. Every power wheelchair has a base, which is equipped with four or more wheels that serve different purposes. Learn more about electric wheelchairs.

Complex rehab wheelchairs are individually configured wheelchair systems, which can include manual wheelchair systems, power wheelchair systems, positioning systems and seating systems. They can be equipped with additional complex rehab technology, such as a sip-and-puff device or eye gaze device to control different features of the power wheelchair. Complex rehab wheelchairs serve individuals with serious medical conditions and disabilities to meet specific and unique functional and medical needs and are prescribed by a doctor.

Types of Power Wheelchairs

Elevating power wheelchairs allow you to do daily tasks with ease by raising up the seat of the wheelchair. For example, the Jazzy Air® 2 elevates 12 inches in just 11 seconds, ensuring quick access to cabinetry and shelving. Users can drive up to 4 mph while elevated in the motorized wheelchair and experience face-to-face social engagement. Elevating wheelchairs can also make activities like transfers, brushing your teeth, toileting and cooking much easier.

Group 1 power wheelchairs are a good transitional wheelchair when switching from a manual wheelchair to a power wheelchair. These motorized wheelchairs have less turning power and less battery power than Group 2 electric wheelchairs but are good for traveling shorter distances and on smoother surfaces. An example of a Group 1 motorized wheelchair is the Jazzy® Elite ES-1.

Group 2 power wheelchairs are more durable than your typical power wheelchair. They are built to last with longer battery life, allowing you to drive further distances at increased speeds and feature captain’s style seating. These power wheelchairs are used by individuals whose medical needs can only be met with a more robust wheelchair. Some of our Group 2 electric wheelchairs include the Jazzy® Select 6, the Jazzy® 600 ES and the Jazzy® Elite HD.

Bariatric wheelchairs are heavy-duty wheelchairs are primarily used by individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Bariatric wheelchairs are both wider and heavier than traditional wheelchairs and accommodate more weight.

To learn more about wheelchairs, check out our articles on wheelchairs.

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