Tips & Advice Center: Wheelchairs
- What to Look For in a Transport Wheelchair
- Transport Wheelchairs vs Standard Wheelchairs
- Choosing a Transport Wheelchair
- The Best Transport Wheelchair
- Any Further Questions?
What To Look For in a Transport Wheelchair
Transport wheelchairs are lightweight mobility chairs that combine the function of a wheelchair with the portability of a rollator. They are meant to be pushed by a family member or caregiver, as their small wheels make it impossible for the user to propel herself. There are a lot of transport chairs out there, and choosing the right one can be difficult. Be sure to consider the following factors during your search, and you are sure to be happy with your transport chair.
- Weight – Transport chairs are meant to be flexible mobility aids for travel and activity outside the home. This means that weight is an essential consideration of any transport chair choice. You will want a chair that is lightweight and flexible, easy to lift into a car trunk or to carry up stairways. Heavier transport chairs are not as convenient as lightweight ones.
- Wheel size – Transport wheelchairs have smaller wheels than standard wheelchairs, but wheel size still makes a significant difference to the operation of the chair. Smaller wheels will not deal well with rough terrain, and can make for a bumpy or uneven ride. Larger wheels will operate much more smoothly, and extra width can make for a rugged transport chair that will take you anywhere. Wheels above 7" are considered large wheels.
- Seat design – As with choosing any other type of chair, comfort is of paramount importance. Be sure to look at the design and shape of the seat and the backrest. What is it made of? Does it look flexible? Does it have large seams that might bother you as you sit? A seat without padding can get uncomfortable very quickly. Be sure you choose a transport chair you will want to sit in for hours.
- Width – Much like with walkers and rollators, the width of a transport chair is a prime consideration. Consider the environment in which you plan to use the chair. Does it have narrow doors? Twisting hallways? Tight angles? If so, you will want a transport chair that is narrow enough to navigate these pitfalls. A chair too wide to use is worse than no chair at all!
Choosing a transport chair is a big decision, and you want to be certain you will enjoy all the benefits of a chair without any problems. Be sure to look for a lightweight chair with large wheels, comfortable design, and a width that will let you use it without problems.
Transport Wheelchairs vs Standard Wheelchairs
Though at first glance they are similar, there are actually significant differences between transport wheelchairs and more standard wheelchairs. The biggest difference is that standard wheelchairs are designed with large wheels so that you can propel yourself, while transport wheelchairs have small wheels and are meant to be pushed from behind by a second person. Beyond that, things get a little more complicated.
Transport chairs are designed to be pushed from behind. They have no method of self-propulsion at all. They are meant for people who can still walk by themselves, but tire easily. They are ideal for people who are concerned about keeping up with family members or friends on a day out. If you will always have another person around to push, you should buy a transport wheelchair.
Transport wheelchairs are often a little smaller than standard wheelchairs, though they can still carry the same amount of weight as standard wheelchairs. They are designed to fold compactly and easily. Since they lack the large rear wheels of the standard wheelchair, they are often very lightweight and can be reduced to a size that is much easier to store.
Transport wheelchairs are intended to be used for short amounts of time. They are ideal for daytrips outside the home. As such, they tend to be designed with portability in mind. The seats of transport chairs are usually flexible fabric with little support, a design which allows them to fold easily. If you are looking for a rigid seat for full- or near full-time use, you would probably be more interested in a standard wheelchair.
Standard wheelchairs and transport chairs may seem similar at first glance, but there are actually a lot of small differences that lead to them being two very different devices. Weight, wheel size, material, and seat type are all factors to consider when looking into a wheeled mobility device.
Choosing a Transport Wheelchair
Once you have decided to invest in a transport wheelchair, you may be wondering what, exactly, you should be looking for. Transport wheelchairs can be extremely comfortable, and have many possible features to choose from. Try to find a transport chair with a good balance of comfort and utility. This will make your time with it far more pleasant.
One of the first things to look at when choosing transport chairs is seat design. While many transport chairs have little or no padding in order to make the chairs lighter and easier to fold, others do have a layer of padding for added comfort. Most chairs feature a flexible sling design, where the fabric of the seat is stretched between two sides of the chair. Some, however, also have a bar across the front of the seat. This can provide extra support, but it may not be ideal for people with short legs who find that this third bar hits the back of their knees.
Another important aspect of any transport chair is the design of the footrest. Footrests should ideally be adjustable for best fit. This will make your transport chair more comfortable over longer periods of use. Some transport chairs feature solid, one-piece bar footrests, but most offer separate, adjustable footrests. Examine the design of the footrest carefully to be sure it will suit – sometimes sizing mechanisms or support bars can interfere with the foot or ankle, causing abrasions and pain.
Be sure also to consider the armrest design of any transport wheelchair. Armrests can be padded or stiff, flat or rounded—some transport chairs even have short handles rather than full armrests. Be sure to choose a chair with armrests you would be comfortable using for hours at a time.
One final thing that can make a transport chair more pleasant is the addition of accessories. You can add bags, carry-pouches, cup holders, and many other things to your transport chair. However, be aware that most accessories are made to clip on to aluminum tubing with a width of around 1". Chairs without this tubing may not be able to accommodate many accessories, and tubing with a diameter wider than 1 1/8" will be too big for most accessories.
Put careful thought into the choice of your transport chair. Each model is different, with its own separate strengths. Be sure to choose a chair that will meet your individual needs and preferences, and you are sure to be happy with your purchase.
The Best Transport Wheelchair
We often get asked for our "best" transport wheelchair. While everyone has different priorities, we believe that the one chair we offer with the most features for the best value is the TranSport Aluminum Transport Chair by Drive. This chair offers the highest level of comfort and specialization available in a lightweight transport chair.
The TranSport chair was designed and built with comfort as a top priority. The foldable seat is stronger and better supported than the seats of most other transport chairs. It is rigid rather than loose, and both the seat and back have a layer of relaxing padding to ease long periods of use. This chair is also fully customizable to fit your preferences. The footrests are easy to adjust, requiring no tools, and they are even completely removable. The padded armrests flip up to provide a wider area of use if preferred, and they are also easy to remove.
The Drive TranSport is also extremely well-engineered. It folds down to only 8.2", small enough to fit in the trunk of even a compact car. Magnets built into the frame keep it securely closed, so it is easy to deal with and easy to store. And at 14.4 pounds, this transport chair is one of the lightest on the market! The compact frame and light build don't impact its stability, though- the TranSport chair still has the 250 pound weight capacity of most other standard transport wheelchairs.
For comfort, convenience, and strength, the Drive TranSport is definitely the best transport wheelchair we offer. This chair has many features not found in any other model, and is still a lightweight, easy-to-use chair that is comfortable for both the user and the caregiver. If you are looking for a high-quality transport wheelchair, look no further.