Choosing a wheelchair can be a fun process especially as you are choosing a chair that fits you and your lifestyle and not the other way around. Choosing an ultra-lightweight wheelchair ensures that you are comfortable daily, have better maneuverability while reducing the risk of injury.
How Does Weight Affect Your Wheelchair?
Weight is very often the main choice as a lightweight wheelchair frame can extend the range and the terrain the wheelchair can travel on. Lightweight wheelchairs are also much easier to transport and store especially if they are lifted regularly.
However, the weight of the unit should be balanced with other features, especially those features that affect propulsion and maneuverability. A poorly fitting and inefficient wheelchair can create more difficulties.
What Causes A Difference In Weight?
The materials used to manufacture the product as well as how easily it can be adjusted defines the difference. Normal wheelchairs are normally made of steel and weigh above 15kg. Sometimes they can be folded but this with limited adjustability.
Lightweight wheelchairs are made of aluminum or steel alloy, weighing less than standard wheelchairs. They are often foldable and have adjustable features such as removable armrests.
Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs weigh much less than the previous two types and are often made of aero-grade aluminum or titanium. This has a high strength to weight ratio making them not only lighter but also durable. As such they are easier to maintain and more cost-effective.
This ultra-light type of wheelchair is most often highly customizable and have additional features adding to the sustainability of the wheelchair.
These types of wheelchairs have numerous features, you must choose the right one for your needs as it is important for usability and comfort. Figure out which features will be most useful to you, when will you use them and how often the wheelchair needs to be transported.
Also remember that additional accessories may add more weight to the wheelchair, therefore identifying one that is adjustable and can be customized can reduce extra costs or weight.
For this type of wheelchair, the perfect frame would be a combination of a rigid frame that can fold. Rigid frames are light, more efficient, and robust but not foldable down the middle. Folding frames can be transported but may be a bit heavier, with limitations in driving performance.
Also, important to consider is the ease of the folding mechanism: is it very complex and how much force is needed to activate.
The perfect wheelchair should be designed in such a way that it is customized to the needs of the user. It can accommodate changes, is as lightweight as possible and is durable. These features are central to the design of an ultra-lightweight wheelchair.
Studies have shown that properly configured ultra-lightweight wheelchairs have increased levels of function, last longer and are more cost-effective than standard models.