Selecting the Right Frame for Your Manual Wheelchair
Manual wheelchairs are a popular option because they are more cost effective than automatic wheelchairs. However, unless the individual has someone assisting them, they must exert more energy by pushing rims located on the back wheels. The good news is that different frame models are available so that individuals can find one that is better suited to their needs. For example, individuals who lack upper body strength should seek an aluminum wheelchair frame since they will be lighter to push. Although titanium models are also available, they are commonly more expensive.
The most common types of wheelchair frames are listed below.
Rigid Frame Wheelchairs
Wheelchairs with a rigid frame tend to take up more space because they don't have a folding option. However, they are generally much lighter than other types of wheelchairs because their frames are usually made from either titanium or aluminum. Because they contain fewer moving parts, an added advantage is that they do not require much maintenance. Rigid frame wheelchairs can also be more comfortable because they are better designed to fit the physical characteristics of the intended user. In other words, these models are designed for comfort rather than storage convenience. They are also extremely durable, which makes them a suitable option for individuals who maintain an active lifestyle. However, one often cited disadvantage of this frame model is that they are difficult to transport. This means that users will often need to find alternative methods of transportation such as mobility buses.
Folding Frame Wheelchairs
Much as the name suggests, folding frame wheelchairs allow their user to fold the chair up for convenient storage. When the user wishes to fold their wheelchair, they simply release two levers that will unlock the chair. Although they are more convenient for storage, they are usually heavier than rigid frame wheelchairs, which can make them more difficult to maneuver and slightly heavier to push. In addition, it is harder to customize this model to fit an individual's physical needs. However, there are some models available that absorb shocks better than basic models, which make them more convenient alternatives for outdoor use.
The frame on a reclining wheelchair is usually pretty similar to a folding frame wheelchair. Although the latter is often criticized for its inability to adjust to suit the individual, reclining wheelchairs make it possible for users to do so. With this model, the user is given the option to adjust the backrest so that it reclines back. This is a convenient option for individuals who spend long periods of time in their wheelchair, since the reclining option allows them to sit in a more restful position. However, because reclining wheelchairs are comprised of more moving parts, they often require more maintenance.
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