A wheelchair is important for the elderly and persons with disabilities, as this device allows people to move in different areas and locations indoors and outdoors without using their legs, which could be weak or injured.
There are different types of wheelchairs to choose from, but in this article, we will discuss two particular types that are considered to be the most popular and most common in the market. These two types are the manual wheelchair and the foldable wheelchair. To know more about these types, here is a guide to manual and foldable wheelchairs and their advantages.
What is a Manual Wheelchair?
A manual wheelchair is a common wheelchair that has four wheels at its feet and a frame that is primarily made of metal. The seat of a manual wheelchair is either made of fabric or leather, and this seat and the backrest are usually cushioned with cotton or foam for comfort. There are handles at the back of the wheelchair that help a caregiver to push the wheelchair with ease whenever he or she assists the patient in the wheelchair to move around indoors or outdoors.
Then, at the feet of the person sitting in the wheelchair, there is a footrest so that the person’s feet won’t touch or hit the ground. In addition, there are also armrests on the sides of the seat so that the arms of the person sitting in the wheelchair will have something to rest on to avoid fatigue and pain.
There are manual wheelchairs that have equal-sized wheels, but there are also a lot of manual wheelchairs that have much bigger rear wheels, and these wheels allow the patient to push the wheelchair by rolling the wheel of his or her own.
What is a Foldable Wheelchair?
The foldable wheelchair, sometimes called a transport wheelchair, is specifically designed to be compact and portable whenever it needs to be. True to its name, the foldable wheelchair can be folded inwards from its sides so that it can be stored in narrow spaces. For example, if there is no more space inside a car beside a narrow space on the side, you can easily fold the foldable wheelchair so that it can fit nicely in that space.
In order for the foldable wheelchair to be much easier to fold, the seat and the backrest are typically made of thinner and softer materials compared to the ones used in the manual wheelchair. While the seat and the backrest of the foldable wheelchair aren’t as cushioned as the ones on the manual wheelchair, they would still provide a relatively comfortable seat for elderly patients.
If you are looking for ways on how to ensure safety for your loved ones while using their wheelchairs, the use of seat belts is one of the best solutions. To learn more about these, you may read our Guide to Choosing Wheelchair Seat Belts.
What are the Advantages of Using Manual and Foldable Wheelchairs?
Manual and foldable wheelchairs are popular due to several reasons, and in this section, we will talk about those reasons to find out how useful and beneficial these wheelchairs are for seniors or disabled patients. Here are the advantages of using manual and foldable wheelchairs.
What’s great about manual and foldable wheelchairs is that they can be maneuvered easily because of how light they are compared to other types of wheelchairs, particularly the electric wheelchair. The lightness of these two types of wheelchairs also enables caregivers and loved ones that have elderly or disabled patients to pick up and carry the wheelchairs easily. So, manual and foldable wheelchairs are the best options for those that just want to use a very light wheelchair that can be transported and stored with little to no effort. You may also read our Portable Ramps Buying Guide if you are in search of useful ramps for wheelchair users.
Another advantage of manual and foldable wheelchairs is that you don’t need to charge them, unlike electric wheelchairs, which you need to charge frequently in order for them to work properly.  So, if you are outdoors and the place or area you are staying in doesn’t have an electrical outlet available, you don’t have to worry about charging the wheelchair your elderly patient or loved one is using when you are using a manual or foldable type.
Manual and foldable wheelchairs are very durable, as they are often made of thick metal and rigid plastic parts that can be lost for a long time, even after years of use. In addition, there are fewer moving parts involved in the mechanism of manual and foldable wheelchairs, so it is easier to replace damaged or broken parts on these two types of wheelchairs compared to the electric wheelchair, which is made from more parts that are smaller and are more prone to getting damaged.
One of the biggest advantages of manual and foldable wheelchairs is their affordability, as they are significantly cheaper compared to electric wheelchairs. While electric wheelchairs have more features, they are very expensive. So, families or caregivers that don’t have a big budget for buying mobility aids for their elderly loved ones or patients won’t be able to afford electric wheelchairs.
Fortunately, foldable and manual wheelchairs are more affordable, and even if they are cheaper, these types of wheelchairs are still very durable. Moreover, these wheelchairs are also cost-effective, as they require little maintenance, and you can easily replace parts if they are damaged.
Manual and foldable wheelchairs are arguably two of the best types of wheelchairs that you can purchase for the elderly and patients with special needs or disabilities. These wheelchairs are durable, comfortable, and affordable, so try to find the best ones so that your patient or loved one will be able to have a better experience using a wheelchair.
Using a comfortable cushion for the wheelchair is also essential. If you need recommendations, you may read our Guide to Buying Wheelchair Cushions.
 Advance Medical. (2018, December 19). Advantages of Manual Wheelchairs. Advanced Medical. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://advancedmedicalbc.ca/advantages-of-manual-wheelchairs/