Self Propelled Wheelchairs FAQs
What are self-propelling wheelchairs?
Self-propelling wheelchairs, also known as ‘manual wheelchairs’, allow people to move around using their own strength.
Highly suitable for everyday use, self-propelled wheelchairs offer people enhanced mobility and independence. Whether to navigate rough terrains or smooth pavement, manual wheelchairs rely on the user's body strength and coordination.
How do self-propelled wheelchairs work?
Self-propelled wheelchairs typically have large rear wheels with hand rims so users can propel themselves forward or backwards. If you have weak upper body strength, a carer or a loved one can push the chair using handles.
The front wheels are usually smaller and are used for steering. Users can rest their limbs on the armrest and footrests when not in motion, leaning into the cushioned backrest.
Who can benefit from using a self-propelled wheelchair?
Spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy are just three physical disabilities that can impede a person’s mobility.
The handles on self-propelled wheelchairs mean that if the user is immobile, friends, family or carers can steer them comfortably and with maximum control.
Similarly, age-related conditions, like arthritis, are well known to limit mobility. As a result, older generations are another group who may find self-propelled wheelchairs particularly useful.
Manual chairs can be integral to rehabilitation for individuals recovering from surgery. They can minimise weight-bearing on the affected area on a short or long-term basis.
Are self-propelling wheelchairs easy to transport?
Self-propelling wheelchairs can vary in terms of their transportability. While generally more portable compared to larger electric wheelchairs, their ease of transport depends on several factors:
Folding Mechanism: Many self-propelling wheelchairs can be collapsed for easier transportation. They can vary in complexity, with some chairs folding into a compact size, while others may require disassembly or the removal of components.
Weight: Lightweight self-propelling wheelchairs are generally easier to lift, carry, and load into vehicles. However, heavier wheelchairs may require assistance or additional equipment for transportation, such as ramps or wheelchair lifts.
Can self-propelling wheelchairs be used outdoors?
Yes, many self-propelling wheelchairs can be used outdoors!
Many mobility companies create self-propelled wheelchairs specifically for use in rough, outdoor environments. Common features typically include larger wheels with enhanced traction for better manoeuvrability across uneven terrains.
Their frames are reinforced with durable steel or aluminium, meaning they’re still relatively lightweight but sturdy enough to handle the challenges of outdoor navigation. Some outdoor wheelchairs feature built-in suspension systems or shock absorbers for a smoother ride.
Particular attention is paid to making the seating areas of outdoor wheelchairs as comfortable as possible. During extended outdoor trips, the user's posture, muscles and joints could benefit from adjustable seat heights, backrest angles, and high-quality cushioning.
What is the difference between self-propelling wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs?
There are several notable differences between self-propelling wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs, including:
Terrain: Generally, self-propelled wheelchairs are better suited for navigating outdoor terrains or rough surfaces. Users can apply more force to propel themselves forward, whereas electric wheelchairs offer a smooth, comfortable ride on even surfaces, like paved roads or laminate flooring.