The purpose of a wheelchair is often to increase a persons mobility so that they can participate in daily activities. Lightweight wheelchairs are easy to handle and transport. They should be light enough to easily pick up to transport in the back seat of a car or boot.
Lightweight wheelchairs are ideal for people who still have some mobility or for individuals who are recovering from a temporary injury. Often lightweight chairs are useful for older people who find it difficult to walk for long distances. In some instances, having access to a lightweight wheelchair can help an older person maintain his or her independence. If the chair is light enough for a person to lift and use on his or her own, he or she won’t need the assistance of a nurse or other caregiver.
The material used for the frame of the wheelchair has the most significant impact on its overall weight. Although steel might be a relatively sturdy metal, it is also a heavy one. Lightweight wheelchairs tend to have an aluminium frame. Aluminium is a softer metal than steel, meaning the maximum weight capacity will be lower and therefore not suitable to a heavier user.
Aside from the frame materials, other features to consider when making a selection are include the following:
Legrests: Legrests on a wheelchair can either be swing-away or fixed. Swing-away legrests are helpful for people who have some use of their legs and might want to “walk” their chairs while sitting in them. They are also useful when transferring from a stand to sit position and vice versa.
Wheels: The size of the wheels determines who can control the chair. If the user wants to self-propel the chair, large back wheels are a must. If a carer is required to push the chair, a transit style with smaller rear wheels will be suitable and can reduce the overall weight of the wheelchair.
Safety Features Anti-tip bars on the back, attendant and/or user controlled brakes and a seatbelt to prevent a person from slipping out of the seat are worth considering.