Some wheelchairs weigh a ton, and others have a fixed, rigid frame.
Those styles aren’t ideal for a person who wants to be on the move or for an individual who craves independence.
A wheelchair that’s easy to push and folds up for compact storage is perfect for someone who’s on the go and wants to remain active for as long as possible.
The History of the Lightweight Folding Wheelchair
Although wheelchairs have been around for centuries, the first folding wheelchair didn’t come onto the scene until the 1930s.
Before then, wheelchairs tended to be large, bulky objects.
They made it possible for a disabled person to get around, but they were also difficult to store and transport.
Although wheelchairs have continued to evolve and develop over the years, the lightweight folding model continues to be an attractive option for many people.
Folding vs. Rigid Frame Wheelchairs
Although you might assume that a folding or collapsible wheelchair will be the better option in most cases, that’s not always true.
Some people do benefit from having a rigid frame wheelchair over a collapsible frame.
For example, if you need a customized wheelchair for your loved one, it is often easier to use a rigid frame.
You’ll find more seat width and height options and cushions, armrests, and leg rest in a fixed frame model compared to foldable models.
Depending on the size and weight of your loved one, you might find that rigid frames offer more options than a folding frame.
Rigid wheelchairs also tend to weigh less than folding models, although lightweight versions of each are available.
Depending on your needs or the needs of your loved one, it might make the most sense to have a rigid frame, lightweight wheelchair for everyday use and a folding wheelchair for travel or occasional use.
What to Look for in a Lightweight Folding Wheelchair
The best lightweight folding wheelchair for one person might not be the best option for another.
Several variables determine whether a chair is a good fit for you and your loved one or not.
Size. Just as people come in all shapes and sizes, so do wheelchairs.
An average-sized individual can usually fit comfortably into a 16-inch, 18-inch or 20-inch chair.
But a heavier person might need a bariatric chair or an extra-wide seat.
Additionally, taller people might need a chair with a higher seat height.
Self-Propelled, Foot-Propelled or Push. Lightweight wheelchairs are often ideal for people who will move the chairs independently, either by turning the back wheels or by walking the chair with their feet.
Push wheelchairs tend to be heavier than self-propelled, but it is possible to find a lightweight transport chair.
Seating. How long a person will be in a folding wheelchair determines how much emphasis you put on the chair’s comfort.
For example, you might want to invest in a chair with durable, comfortable memory foam pads if someone will use it daily.
But if you’re looking for a wheelchair to use when traveling, less cushioning might be acceptable.
Armrests and Leg Rests.
Armrests and leg rest that move out of the way are ideal since they make it easier for an individual to get into and out of the wheelchair.
Desk length armrests can often be preferable, as they tuck away easily and can fit underneath a table.
Even if your loved one is mainly moving the chair him or herself, a model with companion handles on the seatback can be preferable.
Companion handles make it possible for you to push the chair from behind when you’re walking with your loved one.
If the person in the chair gets tired of pushing, you can take over for them.
For the most part, lightweight wheelchairs typically have a weight limit between 250 and 300 pounds.
If your loved one weighs more than that, you’ll need to look for a bariatric chair that can accommodate their weight.
The limit on bariatric chairs varies from model to model.
Some can support loads up to 550 pounds.
Others can handle up to 700 or 750 pounds.