Learning Center

How to choose the right manual wheelchair for you

There are several types of manual wheelchairs available for different types of users. The first and most important question is whether the person in the chair is going to be exclusively propelled by others, self-propelled by the user, or a combination of both. If you’re looking for a manual wheelchair to reduce or prevent upper body mobility related injuries skip down to our therapeutic wheelchair section.

 

Transport chairs (propelled by companion)

Transport wheelchairs are designed to help people who have a hard time ambulating (have light to moderate mobility issues and need help getting around public spaces). It is meant to be pushed by a companion, typically has smaller wheels, is foldable and is lighter in weight which makes it easy for transporting purposes. They are primarily used for short trips to a doctor, the mall or a restaurant and are not meant to be used full-time or for extended periods.

 

Basic manual chair (self-propelled or propelled by companion)

Basic/Standard manual wheelchairs are the most affordable wheelchairs sized to fit average people and have large rear wheels and have a push rim that allows users to propel themselves independently. They also come with push handles so they can also be pushed by companion when needed. They are more robust and comfortable that transport chairs and usually have features like swing away footrest and armrests. They are suitable for users who have control of their upper limb and are capable of propelling themselves for short durations or on a full-time basis. They are usually foldable which allows for easy storage when not in use or when traveling. These chairs to be weighed between 38 and 46 pounds.

 

Lightweight manual wheelchair (self-propelled or propelled by companion)

Lightweight wheelchairs typically weigh between 22 and 36 pounds which makes him substantially lighter than the basic manual chair, making it easier to push and transport. They are usually better built, are less bulky, more durable and offer a smoother ride. All these qualities make them easier to maneuver, both for a self-propelling user or by companion. They are an excellent option for full-time wheelchair users as they are easier to propel up inclines or ramps, through carpet or uneven terrain and have a variety of features like removable or foldaway armrests and footrests, quick release wheels, they are foldable for transportation, and available in a variety of colors.

 

Ultra Lightweight manual wheelchair (self-propelled)

Ultra Lightweight manual wheelchairs are the lightest and sleekest of all manual wheelchairs. They are available in materials like aerospace aluminum and titanium which means they can weigh between 12 and 20 pounds! They are designed to fit your body to your exact measurements and offer the highest performance and customization. They are fully customizable in terms of fit for your body as well as offering a wide variety of options in terms of third-party backrest, armrests, side guards, caster wheels, rear wheel brakes as well as color combinations. They are available as rigid and folding frames (for easier transfer into the car), are quick release and have camber adjustability. They are the best solution for active users who are independent and need the most maneuverable, lightest and most comfortable solution to their mobility needs.

 

Therapeutic manual wheelchairs

Therapeutic manual wheelchairs are designed to alleviate or prevent damage, injury and pain of the upper extremities (typically shoulder and wrists) given that over 50% of long-term wheelchair users develop some type of shoulder injury and pain which may result in surgery, decreased activity and/or a reduced quality of life. Currently, the best solution to this issue are chairs using pull-propulsion based wheels which work by pulling back on the handrim to go forward. This motion eliminates all the forces that lead to shoulder and wrist injuries, promote better upper body posture and strengthen the upper back muscles allowing users to become or stay active. Depending on the model, they facilitate activities that are typically strenuous like going through carpets or up inclines without worrying about shoulder or wrist injury. We carry the entire product line of pull propulsion wheelsets that can be used on most ultralightweight and lightweight wheelchairs. We also have an all-in-one solution designed from the ground up with these wheels in mind.

 

How to choose the right SCOOTER for you

Mobility scooters are a popular way for people with some mobility problems to get around in their homes, the grocery store, the shopping mall and other important areas in their neighborhood. If you are fatigued after walking to another part of your house or to your mailbox, you can still maintain your independence with the use of a fun and comfortable scooter.

People who benefit from having a scooter for mobility include people with multiple sclerosis, mild cerebral palsy, severe forms of arthritis. The elderly and stroke survivors also find that scooters help get from here to there without using a product that looks like medical equipment!

Here is an easy checklist to help you decide which is the right scooter for you!

Where will the mobility scooter primarily be used?

If the scooter is for indoor use, you may want to choose a three-wheel scooter that maneuvers around corners better. If you prefer a four-wheel scooter, select one with smaller wheels and a tighter turning radius. Measure doorways to ensure the scooter will fit through. Keep in mind that you may lose up to 2″ if the doorway has a hinged door. If the mobility scooter is for outdoor use, a four-wheel scooter is recommended since it travels over bumps and rough terrain better. Larger wheels and pneumatic wheels will also make the ride smoother.

Your weight.

 How much you weigh is the first consideration. When making a purchase, you’ll be asked whether you weight 250 pounds or less, or if you weight more than 250 pounds. The second choice is a more durable scooter to be able to carry that difference in weight. Consider whether you are close to that weight limit, and if you will be carrying heavy objects on your scooter or in your scooter basket! It all adds up!

Scooter dimensions.

The size of the scooter is going to be important based on your environment. If you use your scooter indoors where the hallways are narrow and the corners are tight, then a smaller scooter with a small turning radius will be your better choice. You can find those measurements in the specifications section when review the details of any scooter.

Scooter durability.

Eighty percent of scooter buyers purchase a 3 wheel scooter. Scooters come in three general sizes: compact, midsize and rugged outdoor. If you will use your scooter on rough terrain, hilly grass or a rural area like a farm, you probably will want a 4 wheel outdoor scooter. Four wheels adds more stability over rough terrain. A 3 wheel scooter allows better maneuverability in tight spaces.

Transportation.

Will you be transporting your scooter in the trunk of a car? If so, you need to consider a scooter that disassembles. You also need to consider the size of those individual pieces and the weight of the largest piece. Many scooters do disassemble into three pieces, not including the batteries. The heaviest piece can be as much as 30 pounds. So, you might need to consider how much weight your spouse, friends or caregivers can lift in order to get that into the trunk of your car. Also check the sizes of the pieces to be sure you or a friend can get them into the trunk of the car being used! 

The seat.

If you are in and out of your scooter seat all day, then you would probably be fine with the seat that comes standard with your scooter. If you remain in the seat most of the day, you’ll want to consider upgrading to a more comfortable seat that has extra foam padding. Also consider leg room; if you are tall, you will want a seat that can be moved higher. Some seats also swivel for easy access, then lock in place when you are facing forward. More expensive, and thus more comfortable seats, are oftentimes called Captain chairs because they look like the chair/seat used by a captain on a boat.

The arms.

 If you are in and out of your seat, you’ll probably want arms that rotate back out of the way for easy transfer. Some scooters come with arms that can be adjusted wider to allow more room for you and a heavy coat on chilly days, or to help adjust the chair to the most comfortable position for your needs.

Accessories.

There are many options from pouches to baskets to headlines, and many of these options have an additional charge to them, just like when you bought your car. Take your time when scrolling through the Accessories list when comparing scooters and their value to your needs.

Headlights. If you drive your scooter at night outdoors, you probably will want headlights. That won’t be just for the benefit of others to see you, but also for you to see cracks in you path. We do not recommend that you drive your scooter in the street. Some scooters come with directional signals so you can alert others to the fact that you are turning.

Crutch, oxygen tank holders. If you walk with a crutch, you can order a crutch holder for your scooter. The same for your oxygen tank. If you don’t need a particular accessory right now, consider what our needs might be next year and plan ahead.

Throttle. The throttle is near your feet, similar to the gas pedal for a car, and can be moved with your hands. But if you don’t have good gripping with your hands, you might consider throttle extensions.

Left- or right-handed. If you are left-handed, or have had a stroke that left you weaker on your right side, you might want to ask for a left-hand drive scooter.

Colors. One of the most popular colors is red, followed by green, then blue. What was the favorite color of your favorite car?!

Tires. Most scooters now come with foam-filled tires. These eliminate the problem of flat tires.

The Tiller. 

If you have limited ability to grip, be sure you don’t get a scooter that has knobs for release mechanisms. The tiller is like the handlebars of a bicycle, and it can be moved forward for easy access to sit down, the moved back in place for when you are ready to drive on. Some scooters are made with a lever that allows you to just move it with the push of your hand to release the Tiller.

Here is another important checklist of you are not sure if you are ready to buy a scooter. If you agree with the following questions, a scooter may be right for you:

My needs cannot be met with lesser equipment (e.g., manual wheelchair).

I have sufficient vision and judgment to guide a scooter safely.

Availability of power mobility will increase my access to different environments.

I can transport a scooter to and from intended environments.

I have sufficient strength, range of motion, and endurance in my hands and arms to guide a device with a tiller. (Scooters are guided by tillers, which are mechanically similar to the handlebars of a bicycle).

I have adequate trunk stability. (Seating options are limited on scooters so the user must be able to hold him or herself erect.

Compact Travel Mobility Scooters

People looking for mobility vehicles that allow them to easily travel around on public or private transportation will find a huge array of specifically designed practical models in the mobility scooter field. The mobility scooter range offers easy to disassemble scooters (each part a lightweight unit), foldable scooters that shrink into really compact and handy shapes and even auto-folding models that rapidly fold for you with the touch of a key fob. The materials used in these scooters are specifically picked with easy travel in mind - expect to see aluminum frames and lightweight lithium-ion batteries keeping things nice and practical. Whether you want to pop your scooter in a vehicle trunk or fly in in comfort and ease, check out the excellent range of travel mobility scooters now available in abundance out there.

One disadvantage of travel mobility scooters is that they sacrifice comfort for the sake of easy transportation. So you won't see deluxe or captain seats on travel scooters. If you plan on being on your mobility scooter for extended periods of time, and won’t need to disassemble or fold your scooter, it’s best to look for a mid or full-size mobility scooter, which we’ll discuss soon.

Mid-size Mobility Scooters

Mid-sized mobility scooters are designed for use both indoors and outdoors. Larger wheel size makes them suitable for use outdoors, but their maneuverability also allows them to be used indoors in stores, malls, restaurants, and coffee shops.

Some mid-size scooters are actually transportable too. Though it would be difficult to find a foldable mid-wheel mobility scooter, many diss-assemble into a few lightweight pieces that can easily be placed in a car trunk. A wide range of prices and options, including full suspension, headlights, turn signals, and power seats are available - the mid-size scooter tries to get the best of both worlds.

Full-size Mobility Scooters

Full-size scooters are designed not only to offer indoor independence in larger homes and spaces like shopping centers, but also to maximize outdoor independence. Models range from 4 mph, 3-wheel scooters with 20-mile battery ranges, all the way up to 10 mph, 4-wheel scooters with 30-mile battery ranges. Weight capacities range from 300 to 500 lbs. (135-225 kg).

You would look into this range if have a large home and want to use your scooter inside your home and on paved areas in town but would also like a high speed scooter that has a good range per battery charge.

 

All-Terrain Mobility Scooters/Heavy Duty Mobility Scooters

Say you need to get around unpaved areas - a farm, golf course or gravel paths. You’ll need a class of scooters designed for operating in more rugged environments. The main factor separating heavy duty from standard mobility scooters is the ground clearance of the vehicle. Ground clearance means the amount of space between the ground and any part of the mobility scooter (apart from the wheels!).

The higher the ground clearance, the more the scooter can pass over large obstacles rather than being impeded them. The wheels and undercarriage are also reinforced to cope with the strains these types scooters often face. So for trail and off-road use, heavy duty scooters are ideal.

Heavy-duty power mobility scooters will have larger air-filled tires, often with special no-puncture technologies, ensuring that sharp objects like gravel doesn’t kill your tires.

These mobility scooters often come in luxury models with weight capacities up to 500 pounds (225 kg), very large battery ranges, and many other technological and comfort features.

The more deluxe models obviously come at higher price, but you can find models with awesome capabilities at reasonable prices too.

3-Wheel and 4-Wheel Scooters

No informative piece on mobility scooters could be complete without mention of probably the most common question of them all: Should I get a three-wheeled or four-wheeled scooter?

Let's explore some the advantages and disadvantages of three and four-wheeled scooters.

3-Wheeled Scooters

The main advantage of three-wheeled scooters is maneuverability. Three-wheelers will always have a sharper turning radius than their four-wheeled counterparts, meaning they can turn extremely sharp corners in a significantly better way than scooters with four wheels. If you're looking at a transportable model, 3-wheelers score higher here too. In the case of folding scooters, you’ll get one that folds into a more compact shape and if you choose a scooter that disassembles, it’ll feature lighter disassembled pieces.

Although designed to be 100% safe and stable, 3-wheeled scooters rank lower in overall stability than 4-wheelers. The simple fact remains that having four wheels, one at each corner of the vehicle, ensures extra stability and largely minimizes any risk of the scooter toppling over in adverse circumstances.

Tall people or those who like a large, comfortable foot-rest area also prefer 4-wheelers - the foot space offered by 3-wheeled scooters is usually less generous as the scooter deck narrows towards the single wheel in front.

 

4-Wheeled Scooters

Four-wheelers are for people who want maximum assurance in stability. With a wheel at each corner, 4-wheelers are far less likely than 3-wheelers to tip or topple over, even in unexpected risky situations.

The leg and foot room a 4-wheeler gives you is more accommodating and comfortable than what a 3-wheeler provides, given that 4-wheeled scooters don’t narrow at the front end - as three-wheelers do. With four wheels, the width basically stays the same for the entire length of the scooter, giving you a nice space for your feet -which is especially important to taller or larger users.

How to choose A Wheelchair Cushion?

There are a number of reasons why you may purchase extra cushions for you as a wheelchair user, or for the loved one you take care of. The best way to choose the right wheelchair cushion is by, first and foremost, talking to your doctor or a rehab specialist. The reason is: there is no “one size fits all” solution, and if you try to simply purchase a cushion without pre-evaluation you may end up solving one problem and creating a brand new one. So, it is never too much to emphasize that the doctor’s input is priceless.

As far as the solutions you are looking for with new cushions for a wheelchair, you will have to take into consideration posture correction needs, pressure sores management, urinary tract infection risks, level of disability or injury, current skin condition, spasticity levels, etc.

We will describe here many types of cushions indicated for each scenario, just so you know what is out there for your decision making.

Foam Cushions:

These are types that are in the market for a long time, and it is the most known by far. Made from different kinds of materials, from polyurethane to therapeutic foam, memory foam, and others. Foam cushions are the most basic cushion, ideal for those wishing simplicity at minimal cost. While some foam cushions are a single density (firmness), others feature contoured bases with multiple layers of foam, designed for enhance pressure management and positioning

A foam cushion may be best for you if you need:

  • Low maintenance
  • Minimal cost
  • A very stable seating surface
  • Low to mid-range positioning
  • Light weight
  • A foam cushion may not be best for you if you need:
  • Exceptional pressure relief
  • Advanced positioning characteristics

Air Cushions:

These are very good options if you are looking for pressure sores (also known as pressure ulcers) prevention and stay dry the entire time while using it. As the name suggests, air cushions are filled with air, and by adjusting the air pressure, the cushion's firmness can be adjusted. Air cushions typically offer reduced stability and positioning by comparison to foam and gel cushions, but are exceptional in the area of pressure relief, allowing pressure points to "sink" into the cushion. Air cushions are commonly available in 2" and 4" heights, with the 2" offering a low-profile, more stable surface, and the 4" offering maximum pressure relief.

People also make use of air cushions to actually help directly on the treatment of pressure sores, not only prevention.

An air cushion may be best for you if you need:

  • Exceptional pressure relief
  • Adjustable firmness
  • Light weight
  • Low maintenance
  • An air cushion may not be best for you if you need:
  • Low maintenance (air cushions require regular monitoring of air pressure, and can develop leaks)
  • Advanced positioning characteristics
  • Utmost seating surface stability
  • Low cost

Gel cushions:

Gel cushions are mostly indicated by specialists to wheelchair users that also need extra attention to body temperature. One of the gel cushions’ main characteristics is the ability to keep steady temperature all day long. Gel cushions also help tremendously in preventing pressure ulcers. Gel cushions are specifically designed to optimize pressure relief by allowing one's pressure points to "immerse" into a gel pack, reducing pressure. Additionally, gel cushions typically feature a contoured base, with advanced positioning characteristics.

A gel cushion may be best for you if you need:

  • Optimal pressure relief
  • Advanced positioning
  • A very stable seating surface
  • Low maintenance
  • A gel cushion may not be best for you if you need:
  • Light weight
  • Low cost

How to choose The Right Knee Brace

There are several types of knee braces available to choose from, such as sleeves, wraparound braces, hinged braces, and straps.

COMPRESSION Sleeves

Knee Sleeves come in different sizes, and you can slip them right over your knee. They provide knee compression, which helps control swelling and pain. Knee Sleeves often work well for mild knee pain, and they help minimize arthritis. Sleeves are comfortable and can fit under clothing.

Wraparound or Dual-Wrap Braces

Wraparound or Dual-Wrap Braces work well for athletes experiencing mild to moderate knee pain, providing more support than sleeves. These braces are easy to put on and take off and can be used while training - they don't have the bulk and heaviness of hinged braces.

Hinged Knee

Hinged Knee Braces are often used post-surgery, for patients and athletes who need a higher level of protection and support. This type of brace keeps your knee in the proper alignment when it bends, to help heal and avoid further injuries. Your doctor may recommend a hinged knee brace after surgery, but another type of brace when you've reached a certain point in the healing process. Hinged braces are either rigid or soft, with soft ones providing less support than rigid braces.  

KNEE STRAPS

A  Knee Strap is a great solution if you suffer from Knee Pain due to Runner's knee or jumper's knee (Patellar Tendonitis), Osgood-Schlatter Disease, or Patella Tracking. It can fit under clothes and is easy to put on and take off. Wearing this type of strap helps prevent patella injuries and minimizes knee pain by putting compression on your Patellar Tendon.

Closed and Open Patella Braces

Closed and Open Patella Braces might be confusing when you see some braces with an open patella (a hole in the center of the brace) and others with a closed patella (no holes). Braces with an open patella allow relief of knee pressure and extra kneecap support with proper movement and tracking. Closed patella braces, on the other hand, offer compression at the kneecap with the same pressure as the rest of the knee and additional support. Ask your doctor if you are unsure which is a better option for your needs.

How Tight Should the Brace Be?

You'll want to have compression, feeling of tightness in your knee when using a knee brace. It should feel comfortable and provide a level of support necessary based on your individualized needs. However, if the brace is uncomfortably tight and you're losing circulation, it's time to loosen the straps or choose a larger sized brace. Rigid braces provide more support and feel rigid, while compression sleeves allow for more movement but less support. Use a size chart to determine which flexible knee sleeve to choose based on the circumference (distance around) your knee below the center of the knee cap.

Which KNEE Brace to Choose?

The right knee brace for you depends on the level of support needed and/or what your doctor recommends. This decision is based on whether or not you're recovering from surgery, the type of injury you have, and how much movement your knee should be getting.

How to choose The Right Elbow Brace

From hyperextension, overuse, tendinitis or tennis/golf elbow, wearing an elbow brace that offers compression and support can help alleviate pain and speed up recovery.

Elbow braces come in the form of bands, braces, and sleeves. Choosing the right one will increase the chances the elbow brace will provide the relief you need for tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and other ailments that affect the elbow. Providing the elbow with the proper support during healing with an elbow brace, band, or sleeve will prevent further injury and aid in healing of injury.

There are several features available to meet the needs of different injuries. Elbow braces came in a large variety of types and several different manufacturers include them in their product line. Some elbow braces have gel packs that can be heated or cooled, depending on the need of the user for additional therapeutic value. Other inserts include silicone or air to provide targeted pressure without compromising circulation around the bone. Lightweight elbow braces are best so not to stress other muscles in the arm. This is especially important when using the brace during an activity. Breathable material will reduce irritation to skin and prevent odor. Adjustable elbow braces will assure comfort and they can be adjusted if there is swelling present or if circulation is impaired. Velcro straps are easy to use but pull straps may provide a more secure adjustment. Elbow braces with thermal properties will assure the elbow stays warm which will reduce injury risk. These can raise temperatures from 3-6 degrees.

ARMBAND

An elastic armband, which wraps around the forearm — just below the injured elbow — helps alleviate pain and keeps inflammation at a minimum. Ideal for those with golfer's/tennis elbow or needs temporary pain relief due to tendonitis.

ELBOW PAD/SLEEVE

Designed for comfort and compression, an elbow sleeve or elbow pad protects athlete's elbow during physical activity. This kind of bracing keeps the elbow stabilized and pain at a minimum. Great for volleyball, basketball or even during job-related activities that require cushioning elbow protection.

HINGED ELBOW BRACE

A hinged elbow brace is ideal for supporting a hyperextended elbow. Bilateral hinges help manage elbow extension and flexion with stops to support unstable elbows. This type of brace is ideal for a previously hyperextended elbow looking for additional protection during sport as well as for a recently injured elbow as it recovers.

 

How to choose The Right WRIST Brace or HAND Splint

When you hurt, you want to feel better quickly! Whether you have Arthritis, dequervain’s, Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb, Golfer’s or Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, Hammertoes or other conditions - you may be looking for relief. A splint or brace can help decrease your pain, improve your function, and help speed up the healing process. 

From soft fabrics to molded plastics, we offer braces, splints and supports to help manage pain. But, how do you pick the right level of support for your condition? Most splints are designed with specific support levels in mind—light, moderate, and firm—to apply a specific amount of control. When choosing a brace, it's important to consider what joints and muscles are affected and the severity of your condition.

Light control

Light control braces support through light compression and contoured designs to protect the joints. Ideal for daytime wear at work and at home and for use in daily activities. Light control supports while still allowing motion and function.

Moderate control

Moderate control provides greater support and resistance to movement by using materials with less stretch and stronger fabrics. Ideal when a brace or splint is likely to be worn throughout the day during a variety of activities. Choose moderate control when joints need to be protected and muscles and ligaments rested, but not fully immobilized.

Firm Control

Firm Control is designed to allow joints and tissues to rest and heal by limiting or stopping motion. When full rest is required to help relieve pain from an injury or severe pain due to overuse or arthritis, choose braces and splints in the firm range. Ideal following injury or surgery or when a condition has flared up and the pain prevents function.

Many of our braces include stays and pads to increase the support or resistance to create a Light Plus+ Support, Moderate Plus+ Support or Firm Plus+ Support. Braces designed to apply a corrective force have variable levels of support depending on how they are worn and how long they are worn.

Because we care that you are properly fitted and get the support that works best for you, we strongly recommend that you discuss the braces and splints you find here with your health care provider. Like medications, braces and splints are only helpful when properly prescribed and worn.

 

How to choose The Right Walker or Rollator

If you break a bone in your leg or foot or you're at risk of falling, a walker can make it easier for you to get around. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the options, including:

Standard walker.

This walker has four nonskid, rubber-tipped legs to provide stability. You must pick it up to move.

Two-wheel walker.

This walker, which has wheels on the two front legs, is helpful if you need some, but not constant, weight-bearing help.

Three-wheel walker.

 This walker provides balance support like a four-wheel walker, but it is lighter weight and more maneuverable.

Four-wheel walker.

This walker is for people who don't need to lean on the walker for balance.

Knee walker.

This walker is similar to a foot-propelled scooter, but it has a platform for resting your knee.

Folding Walkers:

Do you have an injury to your knees or legs that you expect to heal in the near future? Then a folding walker might be for you. It is inexpensive and perfect for those who only need it for a short time. They are also very lightweight and easy to maneuver. However, they don’t have wheels on all four supports so they are not designed for going for long walks.

Typically, these walkers have rubber tips on all four legs and must be picked up and moved forward as you walk. These walkers are designed to bear lots of weight.

Some models have two wheels or casters at the front and rubber tips on the back legs. They provide the stability of a standard walker with the ease of movement of a Rollator walker (see below).

Rollator Walkers:

Rollator is the brand name for this walker but there are many similar types on the market. The higher end ones have four wheels, brakes, a seat and a compartment under the seat for storage.

Most models do fold, but they are heavier than the folding walkers mentioned above. This type of walker is not designed to transport someone from place to place, so keep this in mind and read all instruction manuals before buying.

Transport Chair/Walker:

These are perfect for those who still have mobility but can’t walk for extended periods without having to sit down for a bit. These are also recommended for those who have long-term mobility issues. It is heavier than the Rotator walker and might be difficult to lift. This type of walker also has brakes and four wheels. These are not recommended if they have to be put into a vehicle.

When choosing a walker take into account when and where you’ll be using it most often. Will it need to be folded to get into a vehicle? Will you need stability? Will you need it short term or long term? Keep these questions in mind when choosing your next walker.