How Many Types Of Wheelchairs Nowadays

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For those with mobility issues, wheelchairs are important assistance devices that can help you get around.

They are usually manually powered or electric powered.

This means that you can operate them by using specific controls, your hands, or even get assistance from your caregivers.

Technology has changed the way wheelchairs are designed.

There is a broad range of wheelchairs compared to the previous decades. So, if you are facing difficulties in walking, you can conveniently find a wheelchair designed to cater to your needs.


Types of Wheelchairs

But what are the main types of wheelchairs available in the market?

Well, here is a review of the 12 common types of wheelchairs.


1, All-Terrain Wheelchairs

They are among the most common types of wheelchairs.

This is because they are versatile and ideal for use on different terrains.

An all-terrain wheelchair can be electric or manual.

However, some are also gas-powered.

You can use such a wheelchair to navigate through different terrains, including gravel, sand, ice, and snow, among others.

Generally, all types of all-terrain wheelchairs offer you the flexibility to easily complete your off-road journeys in style.

Whether you are at the beach for some fresh air, camping outdoors, or visiting a park, such a wheelchair has got you covered.

They are normally designed with common adaptability features.

This means that they can maneuver coarse and gravel surfaces such as sandy beaches, a terrain that consists of compacted material, pavements, and rocky, uneven outdoor spaces.

They come with extra-wide wheels to enhance stability.

This means that you can comfortably use them to move on unsteady or uneven terrain.


It’s also worth noting that these wheelchairs have specialized features such as:

Beefed-up suspensions – offers an effective edge when cruising outdoors

Heavy-duty batteries and motors – to provide power supply

Reinforced or heavy-duty frames – for improved stability

Tank tracks and balloon tires – help to maintain balance when you are traversing uneven surfaces

The technology involved in implementing all-terrain wheelchairs is top-notch, and that’s why they are expensive.

Although they have a heavy-duty design that makes them difficult to transport, these wheelchairs give users opportunities to navigate different terrains comfortably.


2, Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are non-motorized.

They are the traditional standard types of wheelchairs.

They don’t use any form of power or electricity for their operation.

As a result, they tend to be more affordable and durable than their automated wheelchair counterparts.

What makes manual wheelchairs even more attractive is that they are less complicated.

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced user, you will enjoy using them.

They are also easier to maintain and repair, so you will not have to dig deeper into your pockets to ensure that they are functioning optimally.


These wheelchairs are normally available in several types depending on factors such as:

Style: you can get a transport wheelchair, rigid-frame manual wheelchair, and folding-frame manual wheelchair.

Material: you can get a manual wheelchair made with carbon composite, titanium, steel, and aluminum.

Weight: Some available options include standard-weight manual wheelchairs, ultra-lightweight manual wheelchairs, lightweight manual wheelchairs, and heavy-duty manual wheelchairs.

Regardless of the type of manual wheelchair you choose, the mode of operation is almost the same. All these wheelchairs are normally powered using hands. You need to grab the handling around the wheels and use it to propel yourself forward or backward.


Besides that, they also come with handles located behind the backrest.

So, alternatively, someone else can stand behind you and push you around.

All these types of manual wheelchairs are designed for different uses.

Those who use vehicles to commute may use foldable and lightweight chairs.

On the other hand, heavy-duty wheelchairs are ideal for users who move around constantly hence they need something durable.


3, Electric or Powered Wheelchairs

They are also known as motorized wheelchairs since some power source propels them.

If you are physically weak and don’t have the necessary core strength to use a wheelchair manually, then this should be the ideal solution for you.

They are battery- or electric-operated.

So, if you will use such a chair, you only need to press the controls to facilitate the right movements.

They are perfect in eliminating fatigue and movement restrictions that people with disabilities usually face when navigating different surfaces.

You can comfortably power the chairs without engaging any part of your body.

Such wheelchairs normally offer more independence.

There are also powered wheelchairs with advanced designs.

They are flexible enough to adapt to different user needs.


Some of them are even designed with extra specialized components such as:

Specialized switches and controls

Environmental control

A speech device and respirator

Different body alignments and positioning


However, electric or powered wheelchairs are costly.

They also cost lots of money to repair and maintain.

Due to their powered nature, these wheelchairs often breakdown, more than their manual counterparts.

This means that you must be financially able to repair them constantly.

It is also worth noting that they are bulkier and heavier than manual wheelchairs.


4, Pediatric Wheelchairs

These wheelchair types are exclusively made for children.

So, they are often designed with small frames and have a novel appearance.

You can find pediatric wheelchairs in different forms, including electric models made with ultra-light designs and manual models.

One thing that you will notice about them is that they are adjustable.

For instance, you can conveniently adjust the seat’s height as the child gradually grows up.

There are also specialized pediatric wheelchairs created to cater to the needs of children with complex mobility issues.

This way, they can learn about independence while they are still young.

While these wheelchairs are like small versions of adult wheelchairs, they are designed to allow kids to feel comfortable while moving around and interacting with their peers.

But they also have components that you can find in adult wheelchairs, especially the armrest, seat width, leg rest, and backrest adjustments.

Some even come with cute attractive accessories that can engage your young one.

You can also get a customized chair with specific features that are styled depending on your child’s needs.


5, Bariatric Wheelchairs

What exactly is a bariatric wheelchair?

It’s a type of wheelchair that has a heavy-duty design.

A bariatric wheelchair is designed for a person who needs extra space for comfort.

Under this wheelchair category, you can find a product with extremely large seat sizes.

The seat sizes are usually large than what conventional wheelchairs have.

Some of them have seats with widths that can reach up to 32 inches.

But why exactly are they designed in such a way?

Most wheelchair users would want lightweight products that facilitate ease of movement.

Bariatric wheelchairs have a heavy-duty design because they are designed to effectively extremely heavy individuals.

They can effectively support those who weigh up to 700 pounds!

Take note that standard wheelchairs can only accommodate weights of up to 300 pounds.

So, those with extremely big weights and body structures need something that can perfectly withstand their weight.

As a result, these wheelchairs are made with heavy-duty materials, including classic steel.

Overall, their heavy nature makes them difficult to store and transport.


6, Transport Wheelchairs

They make it easier for your caregivers and loved ones to assist you when you want to get around.

Unlike standard wheelchairs, transport wheelchairs are usually performance-oriented and lightweight.

They are not made for self-propulsion, so another person must get behind you to help.

This means that they do not usually have two large wheels that standard wheelchairs have.

Instead, they are designed with four smaller wheels.


Their limited usability means that they are ideal for temporary use.

For instance, when you are sick or injured, and your mobility is impacted, you will regain it once your mobility, and you will no longer need to use the wheelchair.

Besides that, it can be used by those people who are easily tired and may need assistance when walking for longer distances.

Thus, transport wheelchairs normally have a foldable design that facilities easier storage and transportation.

They are lightweight, portable, compact, and comfortably fit in tiny spaces.


7, Sport-Specific Wheelchairs

Sport-specific wheelchair types come in different sizes.

However, most of them have manual designs.

They are specifically designed for sporting activities such as golf, racing, basketball, rugby, and tennis.

Technology has changed, and people who use wheelchairs can now comfortably engage in sporting activities.

Having mobility issues doesn’t mean that you should miss out on sporting activities.

Generally, sport-specific wheelchairs are designed with productive ergonomics and ultra-lightweight metal.

With the next-generation technology, you have a better chance of experiencing better accessibility and ease of movement.


Basketball Wheelchairs

These wheelchair types are specifically designed for basketball players who use wheelchairs.

They are among the most sought-after sport-specific wheelchairs and usually cost $1,300.

They are designed with highly durable metals such as titanium.

Note that there is not a universal standard for the design of such wheelchairs.

Each one has to be adjusted and customized to fit individual needs.


Tennis Wheelchairs

Due to the nature of the tennis game, you will find that these wheelchairs are usually lightweight.

This way, the player can easily maneuver around and change positions more rapidly.


Rules to play Wheelchair Tennis

They are also costly, but you can find a good tennis chair with a moderate budget.

They are ideal for use under tough conditions, including clay courts and grass courts.


Racing wheelchairs

They are built for speed.

You might not be able to use your lower limbs, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t race and compete with other sports enthusiasts who are just like you.

Racing wheelchairs are designed for speed.

As a result, they can perfectly withstand higher velocities but for shorter distances.

If you have a good level of stability, you can attain a speed of up to 30 km/h while using a wheelchair racer!


8, Multi-Sport Wheelchairs

These wheelchair types are designed to offer users versatility.

They are flexible and offer ease of use.

So, they can effectively endure rigorous use by people across a wide range of sports activities, from tennis to basketball.

For a person who uses a wheelchair interested in multiple sports activities.

You do not have to worry about making wheelchair purchases. Such a product is quite flexible, making it easy to customize into different functionalities.

Their design mostly features removable parts that are easy to customize and assemble.

They also tend to be lightweight to promote maneuverability.

Even though most of them tend to be expensive, you can also find multi-sport wheelchairs for less than $1,000.


9, Positioning Wheelchairs

So, you are out using your wheelchair and chilling, and you probably think it is comfy. Well, that is not all.

There is a lot of calculation that goes in there.

Experienced wheelers usually do lots of research before they can fully design a wheelchair and release it to the market.


Some of the features that they consider include:

Cardiac function

Circulation and respiration

The process of digestion


It should be noted that these functions are crucial for the body’s normal functioning.

So, while you are seated in your wheelchair, you need to be positioned so that the chair does not interfere with these functions.

That’s why you must get a wheelchair that can positively impact your health.

You don’t want a device that’s supposed to facilitate your mobility to be the reason why you have additional health complications.

Using a wheelchair for too long also leads to the development of pressure points, especially on the bony parts of your body.

If you are not careful, you can easily have tissue trauma.


This may include issues related to:

Muscle sores


Pressure sores

Ulcers and breakdowns


A positioning wheelchair helps to support your body and eliminates the chances of developing pressure points.

Such a device allows you to change your position in several ways, including: conveniently.

Elevating the leg rests so that you can stay in a straight-out position rather than a bent position.

Tilt the whole seating system back without the need to change the seat.

Generally, positioning wheelchairs help to improve your health and promote wellness significantly.

Most of them are quite flexible. So, you can change your sitting position in several ways.


10, Standing Wheelchairs

Getting the right sitting position in your wheelchair is one thing.

But sitting for prolonged periods can be damaging to your health.

So, standing wheelchairs were designed to help reduce the health risks of prolonged sitting.

Understand that when your body is constantly in an immobile state, your joints will ache, and muscles will stiffen, especially in regions around your legs and the back.

Besides that, those who sit for long are likely to develop issues with their hips, ankles, and knees.

Of course, you don’t want this to happen to you.

While a standing wheelchair is just like any other type of wheelchair that you can sit on, its working mechanisms are quite interesting.

It’s normally designed so that its functionality allows your upper body to be raised in a standing and upward position.

You can find standing wheelchairs in electric forms where electric power changes and propels the wheelchair.

Besides that, they are also available in manual forms.

This means that users must manually propel the chairs or be motor-driven.

Of course, such wheelchairs offer users lots of physiological benefits.

There is nothing as good as having the chance to face those around you on an eye-to-eye level. Besides that, users also retain the ability to easily reach up to higher places such as cabinets, shelves, and counters.

Due to their high level of functionalities, these wheelchairs are quite expensive.

The electric-powered models can cost several thousands of dollars.

However, they are quite heavy and extremely large.

This is because they normally need extra features, including straps and pads.

But the fact that they allow people to do more chores and get positioned correctly if they are tired of sitting means that they offer value for money.


11, Beach Wheelchairs

If you analyze the wheels of an average wheelchair, you will understand why it is difficult for them to maneuver on the sand easily.

They cannot withstand the sand’s soft nature, which is why they usually sink and get stuck.

But does this mean that your access is limited and you cannot visit the beach?

Absolutely no. Wheelchair users are just like other people, and they also get the desire to visit beaches.

They also want to enjoy the splashing waves.

But sandy surfaces have loose granularity, which can make mobility quite challenging.

But the human mind does not have a creative limit.

You can have as many beach days as you want.

Some wheelchairs facilitate easier movement across sandy terrains such as beaches.

Such chairs usually feature soft and pneumatic plastic wheels that easily absorb sand shocks.

This makes it possible to ride on smooth surfaces that are not compact.

Generally, these wheelchairs are equipped with wide and large wheels that allow them to roll and move across the sand without easily sinking.

One thing that you will notice about these chairs is that they have big balloon-like wheels that keep them from sinking into the sand.

Beach wheelchairs can be motorized or manual.

However, they are generally expensive to their unique features. Besides that, it isn’t easy to manually transport a heavy person to the beach.

Note: some beaches offer free beach wheelchairs. You can probably use them instead of purchasing one.


12, Handcycles

Is handcycling good for you?

It is a healthy activity that people who use wheelchairs can engage in.

Handcycling is usually done with handcycles.

They come in different styles and sizes so that users with varying ability levels can conveniently use them and stay fit.

Handcycles are just like bicycles since they have the same parts and gears.

The main difference between them is how pedaling is done.

While pedaling is done with your feet when using the bicycle, a handcycle requires using your hands.

Handcycles can be customized to offer flexibility and enhance ease of use.

That’s why they can be used by people with complex disabilities since some of them come with power assist.

The main benefit of using a handcycle is to ensure that your body stays healthy.

Staying in a sitting position for extended periods can easily interfere with your physical and mental wellbeing.

With time you might start to notice that you have gained excess weight, constantly suffer from muscle and joint pains, and can even experience stress and depression.

A handcycle can help to reduce all these symptoms to some extent.

The fact that you get to physically and mentally engage your body leads to the release of endorphins which is important for general wellness.


Types of handcycles

Handcycles are designed to cater to the needs of people with various abilities.

It is worth noting that handcycles for beginners are not similar to those who engage in competitive sports.


The common type of handcycles include:

Upright handcycles

Handcycles for children

Off-road handcycles

Cross-training handcycles



Wheelchairs come in many forms, depending on their functionalities. Some are ideal for general use, such as all-terrain wheelchairs.

They are also designed for specialized use, including handcycles, positioning, standing, and sport-specific wheelchairs.

But they all have a goal, to eliminate mobility restrictions and ensure that your accessibility is enhanced.

You can choose a wheelchair type depending on your needs, budget, and age.

Most of them are also easily customizable, so you have a wide variety to choose from.

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Picture of Mr. Vincent
Mr. Vincent

International Market Director of TOUSDA, Rehabilitation Therapy Products Experts, Son, Husband, and Father.
Passionate about providing high-quality rehabilitation therapy products, especially wheelchair, electric wheelchair, commode wheelchair, commode chair, mobility aids, walking aids, crutch, walking stick, etc., and share the latest news, tips, blogs, advice, knowledge about the medical industry field.
Excited about TOUSDA's mission to become the premier online medical technology platform that empowers caregivers by spotlighting innovative devices and products to achieve optimal patient response and recovery.


Notes: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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