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Manual or Powered? How to Choose the Right Wheelchair for You

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With so many models available, choosing a wheelchair can be an overwhelming experience. The biggest decision you have to make is between a manual or powered wheelchair. Both types of wheelchairs have benefits and disadvantages, so you need to consider your personal circumstances carefully to decide which is right for you.

Advantages of Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are much lighter than power wheelchairs, which can weigh more than 150 kg. If you are heavier than average, the combined weight of your body and a power chair could be too heavy for some wheelchair lifts to handle.

The low weight of manual wheelchairs, along with the fact that many models fold up into a very small size, makes them very portable. This is useful if you frequently need to transport your chair in a car.

As they contain no electrical circuitry, manual wheelchairs can be easier to maintain than power wheelchairs. You will need to clean the chair and ensure the tires are always inflated to the correct pressure, but you don't have to worry about a flat battery leaving the chair unusable.

Finally, manual chairs are a popular choice among wheelchair users who want to maintain their fitness. Propelling yourself forward by pushing on the wheels of a manual chair is a good upper body exercise, which could help you to retain muscle mass even if you can't use your legs.

Advantages of Power Wheelchairs

Power wheelchairs are a good choice for people who don't have the upper body strength or dexterity to move themselves around in a manual wheelchair. Instead of pushing on the wheels, you use a hand controller to steer the chair, which means you can travel long distances without getting tired. Of course, you need to remember to keep the battery charged so it has enough power to get through a long journey.

Even if you are strong and fit enough to get around in a manual wheelchair, there are times when you may appreciate a power chair. Pushing yourself around in a manual chair can lead to pains in the arm and hand joints due to the repetitive movements involved.

Manual and powered wheelchairs offer distinct benefits to wheelchair users. Many people own two wheelchairs: a lightweight manual wheelchair for short journeys and a powered chair for days when they don't feel up to using the manual chair. Remember to keep your individual needs in mind when considering which chair would suit you best.