Wheelchair - Manual and Powered

Wheelchair - Manual and Powered

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A wheelchair is a chair with wheels. You can use one if walking is difficult for you or impossible, if you are unable to or would rather not. A basic manual wheelchair has a seat, foot rests and four wheels. As you are seated you can turn the rear wheels by hand. The more modern ones have handles behind the top of the seat for someone else to push it for you.

The ones that you can transport are usually light, fold and have four small wheels. These chairs are designed to be pushed by your caregiver to provide mobility for you outside of your home. They can be placed easily in the trunk of your car.

There are two types: manual and motorized. You could choose optional accessories. Such as an anti-tip bars or wheels, drink holders, seat cushions, safety belts, adjustable backrests, tilt and/or recline features, extra support for limbs or neck and mounts or carrying devices for crutches, walkers or oxygen tanks.

The manual are those that require human power to move them. There are two larger wheels in the back and they usually have hand rims.

You would propel a manual wheeled chair yourself or have someone push it for you from behind. You could also pull yourself along by using your feet as though you are walking. If you have limited hand movement capabilities or simply do not wish to use your hands for propulsion. Foot propulsion also allows you to exercise your legs which increase blood flow.

The electric wheeled chair moves via an electric motor. It has navigational controls that are usually a small joystick

that’s mounted on the armrest. It can be driven forwards, backwards, sideways, diagonally, and can turn around while moving.

It is fitted with Mecanum wheels (sometimes known as Ilon wheels) which give it complete freedom of movement. If you can’t manage a manual joystick, a head switch or chin-operated joystick may be best for you.

The first records of wheeled seats being used for transporting the disabled date to three centuries ago. Around 525 C.E., images of wheeled chairs made specifically to carry people began to occur in Chinese art.

The Chinese invented the wheelbarrow. They used them to move people as well as heavy objects. The inventors of the first lightweight, steel, collapsible were Harry Jennings and his disabled friend Herbert Everest in 1933. They were both mechanical engineers. They became the first mass-manufacturers of wheelchairs: Everest and Jennings.

This page was last updated on August 18, 2012.

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