As trusted wheelchair suppliers to our customers in London, Essex, and Kent, the team at 1st Step Mobility know how daunting it can be deciding on your very first wheelchair. It’s an important decision, but one that can feel overwhelming at times. But there’s no need to panic! Just think through your needs and the answer will soon become clear.
Self propelled wheelchairs have large rear wheels fitted with a rim that can be pushed, allowing the person sitting it to propel themselves forward (hence the name). Some adjust to this very quickly, finding the movements required instinctive, but others may have more difficulty learning how to properly manoeuvre their chair, and may need to practice for a while in a safe environment before venturing outside.
Most self propelled chairs have handles so those who are unable to push themselves for great distances may still choose this option to be able to independently change which direction they’re facing during social settings.
Large rear wheels and push rims means that these chairs are generally wider than transit counterparts, which may need to be taken into account when making your choice.
Attendant Propelled (Transit)
Those with more limited independence may find that an attendant-propelled wheelchair is the best choice for them. Self propelled wheelchairs require a certain amount of flexibility and strength, so people lacking this, or with other issues like hand and joint problems may find transit wheelchairs a better option.
Transit wheelchairs have smaller rear wheels, which makes the chair easier for attendants to manoeuvre than self-propelled chairs.
Power packs are the ultimate tool of versatility that can be attached to manual wheelchairs to give them extra propulsion – this takes the strain out of pushing, allowing for longer distances to be travelled. They’re a great accessory that can benefit both types of wheelchair (both self propelled and transit) and reduces the effort for whoever’s propelling it.
Heavier wheelchairs are more sturdy and provide a less bumpy ride, but are harder work for the person propelling them. One answer to this is to choose a lighter wheelchair, but another is to attach a power pack to the chair in question.