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A Business for Social Change
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Different types of wheelchairs

Different types of wheelchairs

Since the invention of the wheelchair, it has undergone several modifications and improvements to ensure that people living with physical disabilities are able to move satisfactorily in a comfortable manner. There are a vast variety of types of wheelchairs differing by method of propulsion, mechanisms of control and technology used. Some wheelchairs are manufactured for general everyday use, others for specific activities or in order to correct specific access needs. Some of the types of wheelchairs are as follows;

1. Self-propelled Manual Wheelchair

A self-propelled manual wheelchair consists of a frame, seat, one or two footplates (footrests) and four wheels: often two caster wheels at the front and two large wheels at the back. There is also a separate seat cushion. Manual wheelchairs typically have brakes that bear on the tyres of the rear wheels, however, these are merely parking brakes and braking in motion is done by the user's palms pressing directly on the push rims. Manual wheelchairs have two designs; the folding and the rigid design. The folding design is the more common one and it is used generally by people living with disabilities who need to fold their chairs and put them in a car, frequently. The rigid design is equipped with permanently welded joints and makes movement even easier. Many rigid models consist of ultralight materials like aircraft-grade aluminium and titanium and wheelchairs of composite materials such as carbon-fibre have started to appear on the scene.

2. Attendant Propelled Manual Wheelchair

This is majorly similar to self propelled manual wheelchair. It has smaller wheels and it is pushed and controlled by someone from the rear. They are common in health institutions for moving patients who cannot walk around.

3. Power Wheelchair

This is a wheelchair that is powered by batteries and electric motors added to the frame. It is controlled by the user or attendant mostly by using a small joystick attached to the armrest of the chair. It's advantage is that it allows independent use of wheelchair by most users without causing them any physical strain. Smaller power chairs usually have four wheels, with front or rear wheel drive. Large outdoor power chairs usually have six wheels, with small wheels at front and rear and somewhat larger powered wheels in the centre. A power assisted wheelchair is a recent development and it helps a person enjoy the results of a power chair while using a wheelchair that is as small as a manual wheelchair.

4. Reclining Wheelchair

The seat of this wheelchair tilts backwards and it's leg rests may be raised quite similarly to a recliner chair. Reclining wheelchairs are preferable for some medical purposes like decreasing the risk of pressure sores, providing passive movement of hip and knee joints, and making performing some nursing procedures like periodical catheterization to empty the bladder and transfers to beds easier

5. Sport Wheelchair

In recent times, sports have been organised for athletes living with physical disabilities. Some of these sports are tennis, racing, basketball and weightlifting. The wheelchairs used for each of these sports are specifically outfitted to provide premium performance. They are usually non-folding to increase rigidity with a pronounced negative chamber for the wheels to provide stability and aid in making sharp turns easily. They are often made of composite, lightweight materials.