Lightweight, foldable transport wheelchairs combine the features of a self-propelled wheelchair and a portable rollator.
These wheelchairs have small wheels instead of the large wheels of a standard wheelchair, so you won’t be able to propel them yourself.
A family member or caregiver pushes the chair instead.
Transport chairs make it easier to go to the mall, the doctor, restaurants or theaters.
They give you (or your relative) the freedom to accompany others to outings or events.
Most transport wheelchairs weigh less than 20 pounds and can easily be broken down and stored.
These lightweight wheelchairs make it easier for you to travel by plane if you’re elderly or disabled.
They can be folded and checked as baggage, so you won’t need to worry about taking a long time to disembark at your destination airport.
A transport wheelchair (also called a companion wheelchair) will work if you cannot propel a wheelchair on your own and need a relative or caregiver to assist you.
A lightweight companion chair is easy to lift and store in car trunks for frequent trips to the doctor or therapist.
Use these chairs for short trips outside the house, such as appointments or social events.
If you have a caregiver or other people to push you, the transport chair will help you get to and from outside locations.
If you need to use a wheelchair in your home all day, you should choose a standard, self-propelled, adjustable chair.
Use a standard model if you can walk with a cane or walker indoors, but need a wheelchair to traverse longer distances outdoors.
Self-propelled wheelchairs have two huge push rim wheels.
You turn these wheels to move the chair.
Most self-propelled chairs contain push handles in the back in case you need help transporting the chair.
Self-propelled wheelchairs are big and bulky and lack the collapsibility of lighter transport chairs.
Learn more about the difference between a companion and a self-propelled chair to make an informed buying decision.
How to Choose a Transport Wheelchair
You’ll need to consider the width of the hallways and doors where you’ll transport your loved one.
Does the building have narrow entrances, curves, and angles, or are the doors wide enough to accommodate a larger wheelchair?
The wheels on transport wheelchairs may measure under 7-inches or up to 12 inches.
Larger, extra-wide wheels improve operation over rough terrain.
A chair with small wheels causes a bumpy or uncomfortable ride.
Select a chair with wheels over seven inches if you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors.
If you need the wheelchair for indoor use only, small wheels will suffice.
Check the size, shape, and material used for your chair’s back and seat rests.
A flimsy, poorly constructed seat makes sitting in a wheelchair for hours uncomfortable.
Choose a transport chair with a padded, foam or gel cushion to stay secure even on long trips.
Buy a separate seat or back cushion if you need one.
When comparing transport wheelchairs, consider the following:
Choose a wheelchair that supports your weight (or the user’s weight).
Check the folding weight of the chair for storage.
Ultra-lightweight models may weigh between 17-19 pounds and be easy for older adults to place in a car trunk. Heavier chairs may weigh up to 50 pounds, folded.
Most transport chairs have a flexible sling seat design, where a swath of vinyl or fabric stretches between two sides of the chair.
Some wheelchairs have a bar across the front of the seat to offer extra support. The third bar may hit the back of your knees if you have short legs.
What Else Should I Know about Transport Wheelchairs?
Transport wheelchairs come in three-seat sizes
17 inches (narrow) for users under 120 pounds, 19 inches (medium) wide for 120-300 pounds, and 22-inch or more (extra-wide; also called bariatric or heavy-duty) for users over 300 pounds.
You can fold a transport chair and store it in any small space.
Many chairs fold to 2.5 feet by 9 inches.
Swingaway leg rests hook on and off so you can use them when needed and save space when storing the chair.
Transport wheelchairs provide foot locking breaks on the rear wheels.
A few models offer handbrakes, like ones on a bicycle, instead.
Most transport chairs provide fixed armrests.
A few models feature removable armrests, which make it easier for some people to use the chair.
Other transport or companion chair features to consider:
Padded back or seat
Ergonomically designed handles
Removable or flip-back arms
You may be able to purchase padded cushions or other items as extras or replacement items.
Contact a customer service rep for the wheelchair company for details.