Different wheelchairs have different weights. This is because of the equipment and materials used to make the wheelchair and the additional components that each wheelchair can bear depending on the needs of the individual.
Why Is Wheelchair Weight Important?
If you're wondering why the weight of a wheelchair is so important, try asking a wheelchair user. For those who are searching for convenient propulsion or who usually lift their wheelchair frame into the car themselves, wheelchair weight can be a pretty important factor to consider.
Most users believe that the lighter the wheelchair, the better. Those who have disabilities find that their bodies tire easily, and by moving less weight, they do not have to exert themselves as much. However, those with more upper body strength do not mind carrying a little bit of weight. They might be more inclined to save some money by opting for a slightly heavier wheelchair or looking for better options.
Even though weight is crucial, the first priority you must have when buying a wheelchair is your clinical need. Always opt for a backrest, seating position, and seat cushion that is designed specifically to suit your needs. For example, paralyzed individuals would need a manual wheelchair with the frame inset so that their knees can be kept closer together. Those with poor core muscle strength would opt for a wheelchair that comes with a backrest so that their bodies are better support and more relaxed.
Once you get the seat of the wheelchair right, you will find that it affects the size of the wheelchair frame as well. This is because the center of gravity and how high the casters of the wheelchair need to be all depend on the seat and frame size. Getting these features right will also affect how heavy or light a wheelchair feels when pushed.
How Much Does a Standard Wheelchair Weigh?
Different wheelchairs are configured differently. This means that different companies can use the lightest configuration and portray it as the standard weight of the wheelchair.
Since government funding codes in most countries do not need leg rests to be written as part of the base chair, manufacturers can market their wheelchairs are much lighter than the actual weight. According to government funding, 16 x 16 is the standard size of a wheelchair. However, most of the wheelchairs in the market are much heavier today. Since leg rests do not need to be listed as part of the wheelchair weight, 4 pounds can be omitted from the official MSRP weight reading.
Majority of the individuals use the 18 x 16 frame for wheelchairs, which is heavier than the government-set standard of 16 x 16. This, along with the weight of the leg rest, usually amount to 5.5 lbs or more of the total weight of the wheelchair.
Unfortunately, most wheelchair manufacturers continue to advertise the incorrect weight of wheelchairs by deducting additional weight from the brakes, wheels, and armrests- all of which significantly contribute to the total wheelchair weight.
Without counting the front riggings, today, standard wheelchairs weigh over 35 lbs. They have a seat width and depth of between 16 to 20 inches and feature fixed or detachable armrests, along with several other accessories and options that wheelchair users can opt for based on their personal preference and needs.
How Much Does a Motorized Wheelchair Weigh?
A motorized or electric wheelchair has a power base at the bottom of the chair. This contains drive wheels, motors, brakes, batteries, and a wiring harness. The seating of a motorized wheelchair features a contoured seat that comes with a solid seat pan containing options for customization, including height adjustment and some reclining power. You will find all the motorized wheelchairs containing this seating option. Motorized wheelchair users can move around in the wheelchair using the joystick and can choose to move left or right or backward or forwards.
Different wheelchairs are manufactured by different companies. Even though most of their components are the same, the weights of these may be different. This difference in weight leads to some difference in the total weight of the wheelchair.
Some motorized wheelchairs are more lightweight and portable than others. The average weight of a motorized wheelchair is between 50-250 lbs. However, this solely depends on the components of each wheelchair that add to the weight. Some wheelchairs feature rear-view mirrors, storage baskets, special chairs, and other components that add to the weight of the wheelchair. Moreover, the weight of a motorized wheelchair differs from one individual needs to another. Depending on whether the wheelchair is used for a child, or for traveling, or for home use, it can have a different weight.
If a motorized wheelchair comes with a heavy battery, it will contribute to the overall weight. Moreover, chairs with a heightened seat tend to be heavy. Different seats can be used for comfort; for example, thick foam is opted for maximum comfort. This causes the weight of the chair to increase.
Any motorized wheelchair that weighs between 100 to 200 lbs is considered perfect for use as it is not too light or too heavy. These chairs can be used to travel from one place to another with ease and also provide space to add useful components.
How Much Does a Lightweight Wheelchair Weigh?
Lightweight wheelchairs are usually made of aluminum or steel alloys and can weigh anywhere between 28 to 35 lbs. Ultralight wheelchairs, on the other hand, can weigh anywhere between 13 to 31 lbs in total. These are made of aero-grade aluminum, which is known to have a high strength to weight ratio. This means that not only are these wheelchairs lighter, but they also last longer.
Lightweight wheelchairs are cost-effective and super easy to maintain. They can be customized based on individual needs. Additional features can be added or removed. In fact, some lightweight wheelchairs come with removable armrests!
When choosing between light and ultralight wheelchair, it is important to understand which one suits you better in terms of comfort and usability. Look at the features that best suit your individual needs, how often you would want to store or transport the wheelchair from one place to another, and what custom features you want to get added. There is no denying that additional accessories add to the weight of wheelchairs, so it is best to opt for a wheelchair that is adjustable and customizable.
Another factor when choosing between a lightweight and ultralightweight wheelchair is whether you want a rigid frame or a folding frame. A combinational frame is available in ultralightweight wheelchairs, whereas lightweight wheelchairs are usually foldable. Rigid frames ensure that the wheelchair is light, robust, and efficient. However, it won’t allow the wheelchair to fold in the middle.
Folding frames help the wheelchair to be transported from one place to another but can be heavier than other options. It may also have some limitations when it comes to driving performance, as a folding frame might not be incredibly comfortable for regular use. Hence, before investing in a folding frame, study its complexity and force. Each wheelchair is unique and comes with its set features, including adjustable backrests, armrests, handles, quick release components, and adjustable wheel positions. Some features might also be removable, hence reducing the weight of the overall wheelchair, which helps in storage.
Tips for Choosing the Right Size Wheelchair
When choosing a wheelchair, here are a few things that must be considered:
The seat should be wide enough to fit the hips so that they are not being squeezed or pinched while sitting. However, the seat should not be so wide that you have to stretch yourself completely in order to reach the wheels when self-propelling. To avoid pressure wounds, ensure that the sides of the wheelchair do not touch your hips.
To avoid blood vessel constriction in the legs, it is important for the seat depth to be at least two inches away from the back of the knee.
The height of the seat should be such that you can reach the floor with your heels, especially if you use your feet to move the wheelchair. Users using footrests will have a higher seat height.
Height of the Back of the Chair
If you have a back condition or are more prone to sores and wounds, it is better to consider a full-length backrest, along with an additional headrest for maximum support.
Footrest Style and Length
Wheelchair users should ensure that their legs do not dangle from the chair. It should also be ensured that their legs are not pushed too high as this could cause pelvic tilt.
Depending on whether the arms need support, armrests can be added to the wheelchair.
Different wheelchairs are built for different weight limits. Hence, ensure that you choose the right wheelchair for your individual needs.
Shopping for wheelchairs can be a complicated task. Hence, always make sure to do your research beforehand, look at different brands, and keep your individual needs in mind. Good luck!