What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are one of the oldest mobility aids in the world with the birth of this aid being a chair attached to wheels. The basic structure of a wheelchair is the same even today, but technology has lent a helping hand in creating far more superior devices than simple chairs attached to wheels. Wheelchairs have become a symbol of regaining mobility for the differently abled, and the sign that injuries, accidents, or other conditions cannot hamper the ability of an individual completely.

What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs

The two major types of wheelchairs, manual and powered wheelchairs, have both pros and cons. It depends on your needs and the advice of your medical profession on as to which wheelchair should be chosen. This article talks about the two types of wheelchairs in detail, to help you decide which one do you need.

Wheelchairs Today

Wheelchairs today, have been equipped with more than just cushions and comfort. Continuous years of research has helped people understand that there are a lot of things that contribute to the comfort and ease of using a wheelchair. This includes the height of the wheelchair, the comfort of the seat, the upholstery of the chair, and last but not the least, the control and maneuvering of the wheelchair. Wheelchairs run on either physical strength or electrical power. This is what differentiates them into two major categories, manual wheelchairs and power wheelchairs.

What are Manual Wheelchairs?

Manual wheelchairs, as the name suggest, run manually. Which means, they need to be run on physical power, i.e., either by manually pushing the wheels yourselves or by someone else pushing it using the handles on rear side. Manual wheelchairs are the first every fully developed wheelchairs and are also one of the most common in the world. Their cost effectiveness has allowed people in the Third World countries as well to adopt the use on a wide scale.

There are eight different types of manual wheelchairs:

  1. Standard Manual Wheelchair - Standard manual wheelchairs are most basic type of manual wheelchairs, they have the basic wheelchair build and are made for people who have a good control on their upper body. They have large rear wheels which can be pushed to move around
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Silver Sport 1 Single Axle Wheelchair
 
Invacare Tracer EX2 18" X 16" Frame with Fixed Footrests Wheelchair
  1. Transport Manual Wheelchair - Transport wheelchairs have small rear wheels which cannot be pushed by the user themselves. They are mostly used in hospitals and public spaces where another person guides the patient to wherever needed
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Aluminum Transport Chair With Swing-Away Footrests
 
Medline Aluminum Transport Chair With 8 Inch Wheels
 
  1. Bariatric Manual Wheelchairs - Bariatric wheelchairs are specially made for bariatric patients. Their frame is sturdy and built to last. It can take a lot of weight at once and the build of the wheelchair evenly distributes it, thus not compromising on the control and speed of the wheelchair
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Graham Field Everest & Jennings Traveler HD Wheelchair
 
Drive Bariatric Deluxe Sentra Heavy Duty Extra Wide Dual Axle Wheelchair
  1. Ultra-Lightweight Manual Wheelchairs - Ultralight wheelchairs are also known as portable wheelchairs because of their lightweight. They are easy to carry around as the average weight of these wheelchairs is less than 40 pounds. They usually do not have a cushioned seat to avoid increasing the weight
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Karman Healthcare 802-DY-Ultra Lightweight Manual Wheelchair With Swing Away Legrest Karman Healthcare LT-980 Ultra Lightweight K4 Manual Wheelchair
 
  1. Sports Manual Wheelchairs - Sports wheelchairs are used in games like golf, basketball, handball, etc. These wheelchairs have great control and maneuverability. They have strong grips and the wheels are smooth to ensure fast movement
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Chrome Sport Wheelchair
 
Invacare Top End Crossfire T7A Wheelchair
 
  1. Pediatric Manual Wheelchairs - Pediatric manual wheelchairs have smaller frames and narrow seats. Though they are short in height, the handles are mostly adjustable so that an adult can push the wheelchair around. Many of these wheelchairs have patterns of cartoons and animals printed on them to engage the children
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Invacare 9000 Jymni Pediatric Wheelchair
 
Invacare Spree 3G Pediatric Wheelchair
 
  1. Reclining Manual Wheelchairs - Reclining wheelchair are kind of wheelchairs that have a backrest that can be tilted or reclined for the comfort of the user. The usually have taller backrest so that the reclined position is comfortable for the user
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Viper Plus Reclining Wheelchair With Flip Back Detachable Full Arm Karman Healthcare Ergonomic V-seating Recliner Wheelchair
 
  1. Folding Manual Wheelchairs - Folding wheelchairs can be folded and stored easily. They are usually used in hospitals and public spaces where gathering standard wheelchairs can cause a clutter. They are also good for people who have less storage space at home
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Karman Healthcare Ergonomic Series S-105 Manual Wheelchair Drive Medical Wallaby Pediatric Folding Wheelchair

Advantages of Manual Wheelchairs

  • It is highly cost effective and the cost of maintaining the wheelchair is also not very high
  • Their are light weight and can be easily lifted and transported to different places
  • If the person needs the wheelchair for a short period, then manual wheelchairs are a great option
  • The use of a manual wheelchair helps maintain the strength of the upper body
  • They require less maintenance and can also have very few technical errors that might damage the wheelchair

What are Power Wheelchairs?

Also known as electric wheelchairs, they are what happens when superior technology meets wheelchairs. Power wheelchairs run on electric power, via batteries, and are more powerful than manual wheelchairs. These wheelchairs can be propelled using a toggle on either of the handles. The different features of a power wheelchair include controlling the speed, the turning, the height of the wheelchair, the reclining angle, all just with the push of a button. They are highly convenient and can be used almost anywhere.

Types of Power Wheelchairs

  1. Front Wheel Drive Power Wheelchairs - The drive system in this wheelchair is in the front of the seat. The rear wheels function as casters. Front wheel wheelchairs are apt for people who need their wheelchair to climb over small parapets, bumps, curbs, etc. They can easily go over heights that are near 2 inches in height. The battery is located on the rear side, which provides balance to the wheelchair while moving up and down a slope
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Trident Front Wheel Drive Power Chair
 
Pride Jazzy Elite ES-1 Power Chair
 
  1. Mid Wheel Drive Power Wheelchair - Mid wheel wheelchairs have the drive system in the mid section of the wheelchair. Also known as centre drive systems, They have a small turning radius which makes them the perfect choice in apartments and houses. It is stable and sturdy but faces difficulty while traveling on rough terrain
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Golden Tech Compass Sport Power Chair
 
Pride Jazzy 614 HD Power Chair
 
  1. Rear Wheel Drive Power Wheelchair - The drive system rests at the back of these wheelchairs with the front wheels acting as casters. They are mainly meant for those who need speed on their wheelchairs. They maneuverability is great even at high speeds and it doesn’t fishtail easily as well. It is good for rough and flat, both terrains. They have a disadvantage in balancing while going up and down slopes
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Cobalt X23 Standard Rear Wheel Power Wheelchair
 
Drive Image EC Mid Wheel Drive Standard Power Wheelchair
 
  1. Standing Power Wheelchair - Standing power wheelchairs have a feature that enables the user to stand up at will. The chair raises its height easily with the push of a button. This allows the user to work independently to take things off higher shelves or wardrobes
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Pride Jazzy Air Power Wheelchair Karman Healthcare Manual Push Power Assist Stand Wheelchair
  1. Travel Power Wheelchair - Travel power wheelchair have a longer battery life than other power wheelchairs and the best feature is that they can be dismantled and moved to another place. This makes them an excellent option for traveling with a power wheelchair.
What’s the Difference - Manual Wheelchairs vs Power Wheelchairs
Drive Titan X16 Front Wheel Standard Power Wheelchair Drive Cirrus Plus HD Heavy Duty Folding Power Chair

Advantages of Power Wheelchairs

  • They are perfect for people who have low or nearly no upper body strength
  • They are a better option for use during a long period of time
  • The motors are quiet and so the wheelchair doesn’t make that much noise
  • They are more comfortable and luxurious that other wheelchairs
  • They can be taken along in social meetings, conferences, etc.

Disadvantages of Manual Wheelchairs and Power Wheelchairs

Manual Wheelchair​ Power Wheelchair
Require good upper body strength Very expensive
Requires servicing and repairs on a regular basis Requires servicing and repairs on a regular basis
Can tire the user out at the end of the day Difficult to transport from one place to another
Can be tiring to attain speed while traveling long distances Heavier than manual wheelchairs

 

Choosing a wheelchair should be based on three major factors, comfort, feasibility, and need. Considering these three, one should choose the right wheelchair to provide comfort and ease and to avoid any mishap or injury.

 

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