Specialty Wheelchair Types & Styles

Once it’s decided a wheelchair is needed, the first decision that the buyer needs to make is on the type that will be most suitable. Your retailer will help you work through the choices but it’s helpful if you know what your options are before you contact them.

Below are a list of specialty wheelchair styles and a brief description of each:

Reclining Wheelchairs: This type of wheelchair has a backrest that will recline and is not very common these days but can still be purchased for the few users who may benefit from them. They are usually purchased by users who have to be reclined a substantial period of time, or occasionally, on a daily basis. The down side is they can cause shearing and skin damage on the buttocks when reclined, the user can not recline the chair themselves and while they do fold, they are heavy. Another disadvantage is that they are not compatible with any type of custom or moulded backrest. Approximate Cost: $500.00 to $1,500.00

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Tilt Wheelchairs: Tilt wheelchairs are non-folding chairs that tilt the user back while keeping their hip angle in a fixed position. Tilting a user has a preventative effect on pressure sores, allows the user to rest comfortably and aids in positioning. Tilting can also have a positive psychological effect on users who cannot hold their head up to view their surroundings. These chairs are large, heavy and require the assistance of a caregiver to adjust the angle of tilt from time to time. Tilting chairs are used for people who spend their entire day in their wheelchair and can’t shift their weight. Because these wheelchairs will require pressure relief cushions and supportive backrests the costs can vary from around $3,000.00 up to about $6,000.00.

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Bariatric Wheelchairs: These are wheelchairs designed for very large users. They can be folding, tilting or conventional in design and will have weight capacities or 500 lb. and up into the 1,000 lb. area. They will be heavy, most will not fold and they will be very limited in features and options such as wheel, arm and footrest options. Users of this type of wheelchair will likely require a good quality cushion and because it will be a custom size one can expect the cost will be high. You can probably expect to pay $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 for a bariatric wheelchair and more if it needs some customization.

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Pediatric Wheelchairs:These are wheelchairs designed for use by children. Pediatric wheelchairs can be standard folding, tilting, reclining or rigid. What make these chairs different is they are sized from smaller sizes starting at about an 8″ seat width by 6″ seat depth and they can be made bigger at minimal cost to accommodate the child’s growth. Because of the relatively small market for kid’s wheelchairs the costs can again be high. You will likely pay a minimum of $1,500.00 for a basic kid’s wheelchair to as much as $12,000.00 for a high end chair with complex seating system.

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