The aging population in the U.S. will double to 71.5 million by the year 2030 — according to a US Census Bureau. Longer life spans are more desirable, as it’s possible to remain healthy at an older age. Unfortunately, longer life expectancy comes with an increase in age-related conditions: the kind that reduces your quality of life. Furthermore, older people are the fastest-growing age group in the world, and their decreased mobility is a worldwide concern, so we need effective solutions for them. Continue reading for some things to consider when buying a lightweight wheelchair for easier mobility.

    What To Consider When Buying a Lightweight Wheelchair: Is It for You?

    As we said above, mobility often becomes an issue as you grow older. This is why it’s important to find a way to regain your independence. This would not only be for you but for anyone assisting you. Consider a manual transport wheelchair as becomes relevant to you. It’s the best way to keep up with your busy life, after all.

    The main purpose of this device is to ease your dependence on others as soon as you no longer can’t walk or stand for long periods of time. A mobility scooter allows you to go places. It also decreases your risk of injury after a fall.

    You may not know it, but manual wheelchairs are easier to propel and maneuver than their standard counterparts. They’re also easier to store and transport. The typical transport chair models weigh 15 to 34 pounds. Some of these manual wheelchairs have four small wheels. Others have two large wheels in the rear and two small ones in the front.

    Think about the features you need before buying an expensive mobility aid. You can get away with an ultra lightweight wheelchair if you can propel it- especially if you won’t be sacrificing functionality, convenience, and comfort.

    Transport vs Standard Lightweight Wheelchairs

    The transport wheelchair is quite narrow and compact. The wheels are smaller and not intended for self-propulsion. It’s the style most hospitals and airports use. This type of lightweight folding wheelchair is easy to maneuver, so it’s great for exterior use. It’s a good complement alongside a more high-tech motorized wheelchair.

    In turn, the rear wheels of a lightweight manual wheelchair are large and those in the front are small. There’s a bar around the wheel designed to be maneuvered by the user. But there are handles in the back as well for a caregiver to push you around. Most standard wheelchairs collapse, and you can store and transport them.

    detailed shot of a wheelchair

    Types of Lightweight Wheelchairs

    The most popular lightweight limited mobility wheelchair model is the rigid type. These are lighter than their folding counterparts but don’t feature the extra hardware and mechanisms.

    The high-strength lightweight wheelchair is perfect for you if other styles don’t cut it. It’s quite sturdy and customizable. You can adjust it for better maneuverability as well. These devices come in special sizes that aren’t available in most standard wheelchairs.

    Lightweight Wheelchairs We Love

    1. Drive Medical Blue Streak Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair With Flip-Backs Arms & Swing-Away Footrests
    2. Drive Medical Blue Streak Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair With Flip-Backs Arms & Swing-Away Footrests
      $149.00
      Buy Now

      We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

      10/06/2022 12:09 am GMT
    3. Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair with 19” Wide Seat, Folding Transport Chair with Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Black Frame
    4. Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair with 19” Wide Seat, Folding Transport Chair with Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Black Frame
      $175.99 ($175.99 / Count)
      Buy Now

      We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

      10/06/2022 08:38 am GMT
    5. Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair with Handbrakes, Folding Transport Chair for Adults has 12 inch Wheels, Red
    6. Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair with Handbrakes, Folding Transport Chair for Adults has 12 inch Wheels, Red
      $159.99
      Buy Now

      We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

      10/06/2022 10:28 am GMT

    What’s a Modern Lightweight Wheelchair Made Of?

    The most common material for a standard lightweight wheelchair is aluminum, but titanium is the material of choice for the lightweight type. This is because titanium isn’t only lighter but also more durable. The best wheelchair for limited mobility is made with this metal and features built-in shock absorption. They’re available on rigid and folding models. Of course, these are more expensive than their aluminum counterparts.

    There are various types of lightweight manual wheelchairs out there. Are you stronger, heavier, or very active? Opt for a high-strength pushchair, if so. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, then you’re a better candidate for an ultra-lightweight manual chair.

    You must keep some things in mind before you select the ultralight wheelchair that’s best for you. It should meet your individual needs.

    The Main Characteristics of a Manual Wheelchair

    You can identify a manual wheelchair by the large back wheels that allow self-propulsion. It also makes it more comfortable for your caregiver, as it’s easier to push you around. This type of transit wheelchair is usually foldable and thus, easy to take in and out of a car. Some of them have detachable wheels. You can use smaller ones for indoor use and larger ones outdoors. Some wheelchairs have foldable backs as well so you can make them even more compact.

    There are many new lightweight wheelchair options on the market but three basic types: standard ones weighing about 34 to 36 pounds; high strength ones about 30 to 34, and ultra-lightweight wheelchairs weighing less than 30 pounds.

    Stick to a high-strength lightweight wheelchair if you intend to use it for long periods of time. An ultra-lightweight may also be appropriate for you. There are many advantages to it, but the ease of maneuverability tops them all.

    Manual wheelchairs are great for those who can’t handle a standard. As you might expect, it’s also more expensive. This is because of the lighter materials. The main perk is it’s highly customizable.

    For example, the footrests, armrests, and backrests are adjustable and the axel mount has three positions. The swing-away legs come with a reinforced footplate and heel loop, and the elevating leg rests have calf pads. The 20″ rear wheels are also adjustable and anti-tip and there’s a pull to lock the wheel in place.

    As if that wasn’t enough, there are four ways to position the caster fork, and the front wheel is made of polyurethane. Finally, the backrest of rigid mobility aids folds for transport. The middle of a rigid vehicle doesn’t fold, unlike their folding wheelchair counterparts.

    elderly man sitting in a wheelchair and smiling

    Things To Consider When Buying a Lightweight Wheelchair

    Accessibility

    The first thing to keep in mind when considering buying transport wheelchairs is the width of your thresholds. Modern ones are wider, but pay attention if you live in an old building. This is because door frames are usually narrower. As aforementioned, one of the extra accessories you can buy is a set of inner wheels. That way you can dislodge the outer ones and not only be able to go in but also move around more freely inside your home.

    Ease of Assembly

    You don’t need any special tools to assemble a new lightweight manual wheelchair. In fact, it’s almost ready to go when you take it out of the package. All you have to do is unfold it and attach each rear wheel and leg rest.

    Weight Is an Important Factor When Selecting a Manual Wheelchair

    The weight of the right wheelchair is important. This is because the lighter it is, the easier it’ll be to take it in and out of a car. Try to stick to one that’s below 30 pounds.

    Size Matters Here

    The seat length and depth of lightweight wheelchairs are important, but the length is more so. There are three sizes. A narrow one is 16 inches wide and best for people under 120 pounds. The medium ones are 18 inches wide, perfect for users between 120 and 300 pounds. Wider seats are for people who weigh more than 300 pounds. They’re usually 20 inches wide or more.

    Taking Measurements

    Indeed, size matters when it comes to wheelchairs, so you must find the one that’s best for you. This is a rather complex task, and you might want to let a professional do it, if possible. Ask someone to help you, otherwise. They should use a firm tape measure that won’t bend and result in an inaccurate measurement. (You might want to use a caliper as it’s more accurate.)

    Then, you, the wheelchair user, must sit upright and remain in that position while you’re being measured. Your feet must either be on the floor — or on blocks if you cannot reach the floor. Keep your hips in a neutral position. The person helping you must hold the tape measure straight at all times. Again, you must remain as upright as you can. Holding a book on either side while sitting in a standard wheelchair can help your friend get an accurate measurement.

    The seat height is crucial so, again, it’s important to take the measurements while you’re sitting upright. Keep in mind they won’t be as accurate otherwise.

    man sitting in a wheelchair

    Pay Special Attention to the Armrests

    The armrests on a lightweight wheelchair are either flip-back or removable. This feature makes it easier to get in and out of the chair. They’re also either desk-length, which allows you to move closer to a desk or a table, or full-length armrests that provide complete support for your arms. This is as important as a wheelchair cushion when it comes to getting in or out of it. The flip-back type is more manageable as you don’t have to pull them out completely.

    The Footrests

    Most lightweight wheelchair models come with removable swing-away footrests. These make transporting them easier and provide leg support while you’re seated. All footrests are removable and adjustable to suit various lengths. Yet, you can neither raise nor lower swing-away footrests. You can get some that feature calf pads. They provide support by elevating your legs to a more comfortable position.

    Comfort Is Important

    The high-strength lightweight and the ultra-lightweight wheelchair are best for long-term comfort. Choosing between these two will depend on your activities and level of fitness. Also, a reclining wheelchair could be a better choice if you plan to rest or sleep in it. Of course, the one you choose will entirely depend on your needs. Opt for the most comfortable, though- one that meets your medical requirements, at least.

    Cushions Are the Essence of a Chair

    Will you be sitting in your chair for more than two hours? You might want to get some cushions if your answer is “yes.” These won’t only add comfort to your wheelchair; quality ones also provide pressure relief and support. There are various kinds on the market for the seat and backrest and many of them are ergonomic. Here are the main four kinds:

    • Gel cushions are heavy and consist of a pouch filled with gel on top of a piece of foam. As you can imagine, a break or tear would lead to leaking. They’re great for supporting atrophied muscles.
    • Foam cushions are the most popular as they provide all the support you need. Unfortunately, they’ll quickly lose their shape and aren’t the best choice for heavy, long-term use.
    • Air cushions aren’t as stable and a leak is always possible. Thus, users who move around a lot in their chairs should avoid them.
    • Urethane honeycomb cushions are quite comfortable and perfectly distribute your body weight. The beehive pattern increases the airflow and is also light and shock-absorbent. These are the most popular ones on the market.
    elderly woman in a wheelchair in a park

    Cost

    There’s a wheelchair for every budget, although there’s a price to pay for comfort. (Just look at the price of powered wheelchairs.)

    An inexpensive one is usually good enough although heavier (around 35 pounds). Moderately priced ones have more features. You can customize them to better suit your needs for comfort. Most weigh around 32 pounds and have detachable wheels.

    Folding models are the most popular for occasional use. This is because the rear wheels are detachable. Why is this important? Well, it’s because they allow you to store the folded chair in small spaces. This kind of wheelchair also has built-in curved cushions.

    Finally, the pricey ones are much lighter and more comfortable, of course. They weigh around 25 pounds and come with an ergonomic seat and backrest. Most feature adjustable frames. This is great because you can change the angle. You can also adjust it to improve your seating position.

    Will Medicare Cover My Wheelchair?

    Yes, Medicare Part B covers lightweight wheelchairs under “durable medical equipment” (DME). You’ll need a prescription, and they pay for this service in different ways. It depends on the equipment and they may request that you either rent it or buy it. They leave it up to you sometimes.

    Make sure your doctor is enrolled in Medicare. They’ll only cover your DME if the doctors and suppliers are part of their network. These have to meet strict standards, not only to enroll but to stay enrolled and the insurance company won’t honor the claims otherwise. Be sure to seek participating suppliers who can accept your assignment.

    You can find the cost of your tests and services by talking to your health care provider. The specific amount will depend on other types of insurance you have and on your doctor fees. It also depends on the place where you get tested, whether they accept assignments, and on their facilities.

    Medicare will only cover one piece of equipment as long as it addresses your mobility issues. Your doctor will either prescribe a lightweight manual wheelchair or a different device depending on their evaluation of your case.

    elderly woman sitting in a wheelchair and smiling

    Safety

    Did you know that many wheelchair users get injured year after year? Tipping is often the culprit. This is because the wheelchair easily tips backward, right where your center of gravity is.

    Anti tippers are more important for people with amputated legs, but they’re a good safety measure for all users.

    Other accidents are due to malfunction. As you can imagine, lack of maintenance increases your risk of injury. In turn, those who keep it in good shape are less likely to sustain an injury.

    Accessories

    You can buy all kinds of things for your wheelchair. There are ramps, bags, covers, gloves, cup holders, lap trays, anti-rollback devices, helmets, canes, crutches, oxygen attachments, and more besides the cushions, wheels, armrest, and footrest accessories we mentioned above.

    Lightweight Wheelchairs We Love

    1. Drive Medical Blue Streak Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair With Flip-Backs Arms & Swing-Away Footrests
    2. Drive Medical Blue Streak Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair With Flip-Backs Arms & Swing-Away Footrests
      $149.00
      Buy Now

      We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

      10/06/2022 12:09 am GMT
    3. Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair with 19” Wide Seat, Folding Transport Chair with Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Black Frame
    4. Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair with 19” Wide Seat, Folding Transport Chair with Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Black Frame
      $175.99 ($175.99 / Count)
      Buy Now

      We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

      10/06/2022 08:38 am GMT
    5. Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair with Handbrakes, Folding Transport Chair for Adults has 12 inch Wheels, Red
    6. Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair with Handbrakes, Folding Transport Chair for Adults has 12 inch Wheels, Red
      $159.99
      Buy Now

      We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

      10/06/2022 10:28 am GMT

    Servicing Your Lightweight Wheelchair

    As with any vehicle, a wheelchair and all of its parts need maintenance for optimal function- not only because a well-functioning wheelchair is more comfortable but because it’s also easier to use and reduces your energy expenditure.

    So, being kind to your wheelchair and its accessories is important. It won’t only extend its life but save you a lot of cash on costly repairs. Not only that, it’ll prevent injuries and long-term damage to your body.

    Maintenance consists of periodic inspection and immediate action. Service providers are usually trained to detect problems and provide periodic care. You can get a contact list of repairing professionals from them.

    elderly woman in a wheelchair in the park

    Final Notes

    Selecting the wrong manual wheelchair could result in decreased mobility as a consequence of poor posture, pain, and fatigue. Keep in mind that anyone in a wheelchair is at risk of developing pressure ulcers. These often decrease the quality of life.

    A wheelchair configured just for you can help you maintain your independence and reduce your need for caregivers. It might even lower your probability of having to find a spot in a long-term care facility.

    Consult your doctor if you’re unsure about which lightweight manual wheelchair to choose. Your local medical supply store staff can also help you make a final decision.

    Finally, selecting a lightweight manual wheelchair is one of the last steps prior to delivery. You could say it’s the process of finding your best match. Check out this website for more information on this; it takes you through the whole process. Hopefully, this article will help you find the solution that’s best for you.

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