wheelchair – types and uses

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A wheelchair, designed with wheels for mobility, can be operated manually or electronically. Investing in this personal mobility aid empowers users to lead independent lives, participate in activities, and prevent injuries.

While wheelchairs offer transformative advantages, individual needs vary. Some require wheelchairs for daily mobility, while others may only need them temporarily, such as post-accident recovery.

Choosing between buying a wheelchair or renting depends on financial situations and specific needs. Wheelchairs facilitate improved mobility and quality of life, allowing users to navigate their surroundings and engage in various activities. It is essential to consider individual requirements when deciding, as a wheelchair can significantly enhance one’s lifestyle and overall well-being.

With Portea, you can choose the services that suit your financial situation and specific requirements. Embrace our compassionate care and experience the benefits of personalised health services for a healthier, happier life.

why wheelchairs are needed?

Several conditions, permanent or temporary, impact a person’s mobility and make wheelchairs for patients necessary. Known as mobility impairments, these range from being orthopaedic or neuromuscular and include:

  1. Leg injury
  2. Amputation
  3. Spinal cord injury
  4. Muscular dystrophy
  5. Multiple sclerosis
  6. Cerebral Palsy
  7. Alzheimer’s Disease
  8. Rheumatoid arthritis
  9. Parkinson’s disease
  10. Brain injury
  11. Paralysis
  12. Inability to walk for long distances
  13. Problems with gait or balancing

what are the different types of wheelchairs? 

Wheelchairs have come a long way since their first use in the 15th century. Today, there are many types of wheelchairs available, including manual, electric, and specialised wheelchairs. These wheelchairs allow people with compromised mobility to live more independent and active lives.

Manual wheelchairs

A manual wheelchair is operated by the user, who propels it by grabbing and pushing the wheels. It offers the flexibility to move forward and backwards with ease. Additionally, an assistant can push the wheelchair from behind, assisting when needed. This type of wheelchair is commonly used for its simplicity and versatility, making it a practical choice for individuals with compromised mobility.

Electric wheelchairs

Electric wheelchairs, also known as powered wheelchairs or motorised wheelchairs, are equipped with a motor and batteries for propulsion. These sophisticated devices offer greater independence and mobility compared to manual wheelchairs. Powered by advanced technology, they can manoeuvre across various terrains, including gravel and even climb stairs, enabling users to access places previously challenging to reach. 

Some models are designed with height-adjustment features, allowing users to reach higher shelves or objects. However, including a motor and batteries makes electric wheelchairs heavier and more expensive than their manual counterparts. Despite the cost, they provide enhanced functionality and convenience, making them a valuable option for individuals with mobility challenges.

Reclining wheelchairs

Reclining wheelchairs, also called positioning wheelchairs, offer increased flexibility and lighter weight than standard wheelchairs. Typically motorised, they allow users to assume various positions and elevations for enhanced comfort and health benefits. These wheelchairs can recline backwards, raise and lower the feet, tilt, and more, promoting better circulation and preventing pressure ulcers and sores. 

Individuals with a minimal range of motion can opt for a reclining wheelchair with a commode, allowing for easier hygiene maintenance. The versatility and customisable features of reclining wheelchairs make them valuable for users seeking enhanced comfort, support, and overall well-being.

Standing wheelchairs

A standing wheelchair is designed to assist users in transitioning from sitting to standing, enabling them to navigate with motorised wheels. These wheelchairs are essential for supporting the body ergonomically and empowering users to perform tasks that require standing, such as meeting people at eye level and maintaining functionality. 

The convenience of foldable models allows them to be compactly stored and transported, making them ideal for travel. Standing wheelchairs provide physical benefits like improved circulation and pressure relief and psychological benefits, as they enhance social interactions and boost the user’s sense of independence and confidence.

what are wheelchairs for different purposes? 

Wheelchairs vary in usability and functionality greatly. The best way to maximise the use of your wheelchair is to let your doctor pick out the best option for you. Usually, this is done considering your:

  • Age
  • Size of the body
  • Lifestyle
  • Physical condition
  • Budget
  • Home Layout
  • Personal preference

Considering all these factors, our experts have rounded off some of the top wheelchairs available that meet most of the user’s needs and environmental situations: 

Mag wheelchair

Mag wheelchair is designed with superior tensile strength, allowing it to bear more weight. It features composite mags made from lightweight yet durable materials. These wheelchairs are highly customisable to cater to the user’s specific needs. With their robust construction and enhanced weight-bearing capacity, Mag wheelchairs offer increased durability and functionality, providing users with a reliable mobility solution.

Wheelchair with commode

Wheelchairs with commodes are designed for patients with severely compromised mobility, including those who are bedridden. Particularly beneficial for older people, these wheelchairs prioritise hygiene maintenance. Equipped with commodes, they allow for easy changing of positions and provide a comfortable backrest. 

The versatility of these wheelchairs makes them suitable for use at home and in hospitals. With sturdy construction, they can support individuals weighing up to 100 kg, ensuring safe and reliable mobility for users. Wheelchairs with commodes are crucial in enhancing the quality of life and comfort for individuals with limited mobility and specific healthcare needs.

Standard wheelchair

The standard wheelchair is a versatile choice that caters to various mobility needs, whether for full-time use or temporary requirements. Its lightweight design and functional features make it easy to manoeuvre and offer maximum mobility to users. The detachable armrest and footrest add-on features provide added convenience, allowing users to adjust and customise their seating position. User-controlled brakes further enhance safety and control. 

The wheelchair’s chrome steel frame ensures durability and stability during use. Whether for daily activities or occasional use, the standard wheelchair provides a reliable and comfortable mobility solution for individuals seeking a practical and adaptable wheelchair option.

how to choose the best wheelchair? 

Choosing a suitable wheelchair is an essential decision for people with limited mobility. There are many factors to consider, such as your weight, physical condition, lifestyle, and budget.

  • Your weight: The wheelchair’s frame and components must support your weight. If you are overweight or obese, you will need a wheelchair that is designed for heavier users. A portable wheelchair is a good option for people who need to be mobile, but it may not be strong enough for very heavy people.
  • Your physical condition: If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, you may need a toilet wheelchair. This type of wheelchair has a built-in commode, so you do not have to transfer to a toilet. If you have a spinal cord injury, you may need a wheelchair with a tilt or recline feature. This can help to prevent pressure sores and improve your comfort.
  • Your lifestyle: If you are active, you may need a folding wheelchair that is easy to transport. This type of wheelchair can be folded up and stored in a car or closet. If you travel frequently, you may need a wheelchair that is lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Your budget: Powered and lightweight wheelchairs are more expensive than standard manual wheelchairs. However, if you have a limited budget, there are still many affordable wheelchairs available. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about your specific needs and budget to find the suitable wheelchair.

Consider wheelchair weight, manoeuvrability, stability, and other features for the best fit and user experience.

how to use wheelchairs?

A wheelchair can be a great way to improve your mobility and independence. However, it is essential to know how to use a wheelchair effectively to get the most out of it.

Here are some tips on how to use a wheelchair effectively:

  1. Get familiar with the wheelchair. Before using your wheelchair, take some time to familiarise yourself with its components. This includes the brakes, the seat, the backrest, and the footplates. You should also know how to adjust the wheelchair to fit your needs.
  2. Use the brakes properly. The brakes are one of the most essential components of a wheelchair. They allow you to stop and control your movement. Ensure you know how to use the brakes properly before using your wheelchair.
  3. Adjust the seat and backrest. The seat and backrest should be adjusted to provide maximum comfort and support. You should be able to sit up straight and reach the footplates comfortably.
  4. Position the footplates correctly. The footplates should be positioned so your feet are flat on the ground. This will help you to propel the wheelchair more effectively.
  5. Learn how to transfer from a wheelchair to a bed or toilet. If you need to move from a wheelchair to a bed or bathroom, you can use a few different techniques. It is essential to learn the correct technique to avoid injury.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings. When using a wheelchair, being mindful of your surroundings is important. This includes obstacles such as curbs, stairs, and uneven surfaces. You should also be aware of other people and vehicles.
  7. Maintain your wheelchair. It is essential to maintain your wheelchair regularly. This includes checking the brakes, the tires, and the frame for damage. It would be best to clean your wheelchair regularly to keep it in good condition.

By following these tips, you can learn how to use a wheelchair effectively and improve your mobility and independence.


1. How long can you sit in a wheelchair?

The recommended duration for sitting in a wheelchair is typically 2 to a maximum of 4 hours at a time. However, many wheelchair users spend much of their waking hours in a wheelchair, which can be around 16 to 18 hours daily. The reasons for extended wheelchair use vary from person to person, including mobility limitations, dependency on the wheelchair for activities of daily living, and lack of suitable alternatives. 

Prolonged sitting in a wheelchair emphasises the importance of having a well-fitted and comfortable wheelchair to prevent discomfort and potential health issues associated with long-term sitting. Regular weight shifts, repositioning, and breaks are encouraged to reduce pressure and ensure proper circulation.

2. Can you sleep in a wheelchair?

Yes, for individuals who need to spend extended periods in a wheelchair, specific models with reclining and elevating leg rests are designed to allow wheelchair users to sleep comfortably. 

Additionally, tilt functions can assist with pressure relief during prolonged use. However, it’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals to ensure proper positioning and pressure management to prevent discomfort or health issues associated with sleeping in a wheelchair for extended periods.

3. Are wheelchairs comfortable?

Wheelchair comfort can vary based on design, cushioning, and user fit. Some wheelchairs are ergonomically designed with adjustable features, padded seating, and proper support, offering a comfortable experience. However, others may lack sufficient comfort, leading to pressure sores and discomfort. 

To ensure comfort, individuals should consider seat dimensions, cushion quality, and backrest support and select a wheelchair that meets their specific mobility needs and comfort preferences. Regular maintenance and proper cushioning also play a significant role in enhancing wheelchair comfort.

4. What are the precautions needed to be taken while using a wheelchair?

While using a wheelchair, several precautions should be taken to ensure safety and comfort for the user. Here are some necessary precautions:

  1. Secure Brakes: Always engage the wheelchair brakes when getting in or out of the chair to prevent unintentional movement.
  2. Proper Seating Position: Ensure the user is seated correctly with feet on footrests or footplates and the backrest is adjusted for comfort and support.
  3. Avoid Overloading: Avoid exceeding the wheelchair’s weight capacity, which may compromise stability and safety.
  4. Navigate Carefully: Be cautious while manoeuvring over uneven surfaces, ramps, or curbs, and avoid obstacles that could cause tipping or accidents.
  5. Lift Footplates: Lift footrests or footplates before transferring in or out of the wheelchair to avoid tripping or catching them on objects.
  6. Regular Maintenance: Inspect and maintain the wheelchair to ensure proper functioning, including checking brakes, wheels, and moving parts.
  7. Secure Belongings: Secure personal belongings on the wheelchair to prevent items from falling off and causing hazards.
  8. Learn Emergency Procedures: Familiarise users and caregivers with emergency procedures, including the proper use of wheelchair brakes during emergency stops.
  9. Avoid Backward Pull: Refrain from pulling backwards on doors or objects while sitting in a manual wheelchair to prevent tipping or accidents.
  10. Use Seat Belt: For added safety, use the wheelchair’s seat belt or safety straps, especially during transit or on uneven terrain.

By following these precautions, wheelchair users can minimise the risk of accidents, enhance their safety, and ensure a comfortable and secure mobility experience.

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