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When To Choose A Lightweight Wheelchair Over A Traditional Wheelchair?

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By Author: Essentialaids
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People may face mobility restrictions at some point in their life due to temporary injuries or chronic health conditions. While mobility limitations don't only hamper the quality of life but also leave people dependent on others.

However, there are a number of mobility aids available in the market that can help promote mobility and regain confidence and independence. Among all of them, a wheelchair is a common choice of a lot of people.


While there is a wide range of wheelchairs out there in the market, two major categories are 'traditional' and 'lightweight'. Though only a professional can eventually give you the best advice on the variant to use, a lightweight wheelchair generally turns out to be a better option - especially when the user has to travel frequently.


Please note that the difference in uses is generalized and can't replace a medical professional's advice. So, always seek a professional's advice before you pick a variant.


Read on to know in detail about the two major ...
... categories of wheelchairs below.


Traditional Wheelchair
A traditional wheelchair is a self-propelled wheelchair and doesn't operate on power supply. This variant needs a user to use their arm strength to move the rear wheels. Its constituent material is generally either steel or aluminium and its average weight lies between 35 and 40 pounds. The seat width and depth range from 16 to 20 inches.


While some traditional models feature fixed armrests, some other models also come with detachable armrests. If you think you have enough torso and arm strength to self-propel the wheelchair, this variant can be a great option. This is because it not only helps people move but also regain their lost strength post an injury or surgery.


As a rule of thumb, picking a traditional variant is highly preferable in indoor conditions and when the user doesn't have to travel long distances very often.


Lightweight Wheelchair


While traditional variants may be suitable for people with sufficient torso strength, people with weak muscles and body strength don't find a traditional wheelchair handy. Further, pushing a wheelchair up a slope or hill can be exhausting for even the caregiver. If not pushed properly, it may even tip off when on a slope and cause severe injuries.


Therefore, a lightweight variant is a more suitable option for those with severely reduced arm and torso strenght. Additionally, a lighter variant is easier to carry and lift unlike a traditional variant.


The weight of a lightweight chair normally does not exceed 35 pounds. Its constituent materials like aluminium or titanium which weigh less than steel. This chair is customizable as per an individual's needs and has additional adjustable features that improve the sustainability.


Here are the general advantages a lightweight variant has over a traditional variant.

A lightweight chair demands less efforts to manoeuvre in comparison to traditional variants.


Due to the ease of transportation this aid offers, you can easily take it anywhere you want and accommodate this chair in your car, buses or aeroplanes. This makes your travelling with a wheelchair smoother.


With additional storage options available, users can add accessories like bags, water-bottle, etc without increasing the overall weight. Several new models even have optional accessories like drink holders and lap trays to comfort users even more.


Convenient features like leg-rest, armrest, extra padding, bigger wheels, etc. make this variant even more valuable.


Some lightweight variants have feature adjustable frames, which allow you to change the angle of the seat. They even have a removable footrest that enables easy transportation.

To Wrap Up


Retaining lifelong independence and self-reliance can be really motivating. Several mobility aids with the wheelchair being a prominent one and others make it possible for people with temporary or permanent mobility impairments. However, just like other mobility aids, a wheelchair will benefit the most only when the choice is right.


While a traditional wheelchair is generally fit for indoor uses and people with good torso and arm strength, a lightweight chair is generally more safe, effective and trusted mobility aid for people with not much torso strength and who travel more.


Getting your condition assessed thoroughly by a professional physiotherapist is highly recommendable before you buy a wheelchair.

More About the Author

Essential Aids provides disability aids, mobility equipment and rehabilitation products to people in the UK.

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