Contributed by Medline Industries, Inc.
Manual wheelchairs and transport chairs are often grouped together when being discussed. However there are key differences between the two that many people are not familiar with. Both feature similar designs and help make life easier for those who require assistance from a mobility device. With one in four adults over the age of 65 using a mobility device in the Unites States today, it is important to understand the differences.
One obvious difference is the size of the back wheels. In wheelchairs such as the Medline K4 Lightweight Wheelchair, the rear wheels are larger which offers more independent mobility because it enables the user to move themselves without a caregivers assistance. For the nearly 2.5 million Americans relying on wheelchairs for their mobility needs, the ability to self-propel is a key factor for greater independence. However, when considering transport chairs the smaller wheels provide easier movement of the chair when it is not is use. For example, it is easier for a caregiver to pick up and fit into the trunk of a car.
Another difference is the weight difference between a wheelchair and transport chair. Standard wheelchairs typically range from 32 to 38 pounds where as a comparable transport chair will be 10 or more pounds lighter than that. This weight difference allows for easy movement of the transport chairs when they are not in use. A great example is the Medline’s Ultralight Transport Chair. It is the most lightweight transport chair on the market; it only weighs 15 pounds which makes it easy to fold up and ideal for travel and storage.
Both wheelchairs and transport chairs are excellent options for providing added mobility and convenience for users and caregivers. Knowing the differences between the two and considering the needs of both the user and caregiver will aid in the decision to purchase one or the other, or both.