Wheelchair Basics: Standard, Lightweight or Transport?

Shopping for a wheelchair?  Basically there are two different types: transport wheelchairs and standard or lightweight wheelchairs. The main difference between the two types of wheelchairs is the size of the rear wheels. On the transport chair, the rear wheels are the same size (or only slightly larger) as the front casters.  On a standard wheelchair, the rear wheels are much larger than the front casters, with the most popular size being 24 inches in diameter.

When deciding between a transport chair and a standard wheelchair, consider the chair weight and size, how you will be using the chair, and your budget.

The transport chair has small wheels which prevent the user from rolling the wheelchair without assistance.  The user needs to be pushed by a companion. Transport chairs are very lightweight, weighing between 14-28 pounds, and more compact.  They are intended for short trips, as they are easier to get in and out of a car. They easily fold for storage and transport.  Transport chairs are usually less expensive than standard or lightweight wheelchairs.

Standard or Lightweight Wheelchairs have large rear wheels, which offer greater stability. These wheels allow the user to self propel the chair, providing greater independence, or the chair can be pushed by a companion. These chairs are also easier to push on outdoor terrain because of the larger wheels.  Standard or lightweight chairs are best for daily/frequent use. The lightweight chairs are between 28-36 pounds while the standard chairs are the heaviest at 36+ pounds.  These chairs offer greater options for a customized fit based on the users height and weight.

Accesories are available for either type chair. Most commonly used accessories are seat and back cushions. Beverage holders, carrying pouches and leg rests are examples of other imagepopular accessories.

Carefully consider the needs of the user and caregiver when shopping for a wheelchair. It is helpful for both to be present to test the wheelchairs together. Our staff are trained to assist in selecting the best wheelchair to meet the needs of both.