Choosing the Right Wheelchair: A Detailed Look at Types and Features

There are different types of wheelchairs in the market that provide a wide range of motion. It provides better accessibility and independence.

Gone are the days when the best wheelchairs for the elderly were only manual chairs.

Although they prove to be very reliable, there are other types of wheelchairs in the market that appear to be better.

Today, I will discuss the different types of wheelchairs you can get. The new wheelchairs I’ll mention come with their advantages, which I will discuss below.

Keep reading, and let’s get started!

types of wheelchairs

Different Types of Wheelchairs

Before making that big purchase, remember that there are three different wheelchair types you can choose from. 

1. Manual Wheelchair

manual wheelchair

You can never go wrong choosing some of the best manual wheelchairs out there. As its name suggests, you must manually propel yourself from one direction to another. 

This means having enough muscle power to get you from point A to B.

If you don’t think you’re cut out for this job, you can have someone manually wheel you from one place to another. 

The good thing about manual wheelchairs is they are highly durable yet ultra-light at the same time. It’s also ideal for people who prefer a folding wheelchair to store it anywhere. 

However, if you’re looking for a chair with extra features, this equipment may not suit you. It doesn’t sport any features, unlike the power and specialty wheelchairs.

  • Most lightweight design among all wheelchair types
  • Strong and sturdy pneumatic tires
  • Comfortable and wide leg rests
  • Available in almost any medical equipment shop
  • Other types of wheelchairs have more advanced features

2. Power Wheelchair

power wheelchair

If you’re tired of wheeling yourself from one destination to another, you might be interested in getting a power chair (also known as an electric wheelchair). 

The beauty of having some of the best electric wheelchairs is it is battery powered.

The battery included can last you up to several long hours or a full day. You’d be surprised that it can travel long distances! 

You no longer have to rely on other people or your muscle strength to wheel you wherever you go. 

From my experience, operating electric wheelchairs might seem challenging at first. But once you get around using power wheelchairs, everything will be a breeze. 

  • Strong battery pack
  • Heavy duty design
  • Functional swing-away footrests
  • Perfect for anyone with or without mobility issues
  • Very bulky wheelchair
  • Manual wheelchairs fit better in tight spaces

3. Specialty Wheelchair

Specialty Wheelchair

Specialty wheelchairs are your typical manual wheelchairs specifically designed to address a particular issue. 

The chair could range from a wide range of designs like:

  • Tilting wheelchair
  • Pediatric wheelchair
  • Bariatric wheelchair
  • Reclining wheelchair
  • Standing wheelchair

There are many specialty wheelchairs out there to address people with different mobility challenges. So whatever the concern is, you’ve got nothing to worry about! 

In certain cases, some already come ready-made. While in other cases, you’ll need to consult an assistive technology specialist.

The only drawbacks of specialty wheelchairs are that they tend to be expensive, and some designs are very bulky. 

  • Perfect for chair users with different mobility issues
  • Designed for comfort
  • Easy to control than manual wheelchairs
  • Battery pack is not required, unlike electric wheelchairs
  • Most expensive of the 3 types of wheelchairs

Types of Manual Wheelchairs

Now that you know what a manual wheelchair is, let’s discuss its different types. There are various manual wheelchairs, so finding the perfect one is crucial.

1. Standard Wheelchair

Standard Wheelchair

Standard wheelchairs are common and used across different hospitals. It’s a muscle-operated chair, which is fairly typical for manual wheelchairs. 

To give you an idea of what they look like, standard wheelchairs sport two large rear wheels and two small front wheels.

Based on my experience, the wheels are pretty sturdy and don’t get worn down easily. 

This is one of the most heavy-duty wheelchairs I’ve encountered, especially since it can accommodate up to 400 pounds. 

2. Lightweight Wheelchair

lightweight wheelchair

I find lightweight wheelchairs to be one of the best types of manual wheelchairs on the market. It’s convenient and very reliable to use, minus the bulk. 

Lightweight wheelchairs are perfect for anyone who wants to get around quickly without the weight of their chair getting in the way.

More importantly, it won’t leave you with a nasty muscle ache right after. 

If you travel frequently and want to get around quickly, you should invest in a good lightweight wheelchair. 

Thankfully there’s a good selection of some of the best lightweight wheelchairs in the market.

3. Sports Wheelchair

sports wheelchair

Sports wheelchairs are one of the best types of manual wheelchairs out there, perfect for paraplegics who live an active and sporty lifestyle.

One thing I immediately noticed about sports wheelchairs is their odd design. It sports two tilted rear wheels, so it doesn’t easily tip over regardless of the activity. 

Most users of sports wheelchairs enjoy using this when playing basketball, football, and even tennis games.

They’re comparably lighter than a manual chair, making them perfect to use during gameplay. 

4. Transport Wheelchair

transport wheelchair

Transport wheelchairs aren’t that different from manual wheelchairs. Transport wheelchairs typically sport two small wheels at the back and in the front.

Because of its design, transport wheelchair users can’t wheel themselves to their destination. 

They’ll need the help of a caregiver or a family member to help them.But thanks to its tiny wheels, maneuvering around in transport wheelchairs is fairly easy, especially in tight and narrow spaces.

Types of Power Wheelchairs

Power wheelchairs are perfect for people with or without mobility issues. It can wheel you around from one place to another easily and conveniently.

Were it not for its price, I would choose an electric wheelchair in a heartbeat.

1. Rear-Wheel Drive Power Wheelchair

Rear-Wheel Drive

A rear-wheel drive electric wheelchair sports two large wheels on the back and two small ones in front.

The body is usually made of a carbon steel frame for extra durability. 

One of the great things about this type of powered wheelchair is it’s perfect for uneven surfaces.

This makes it one of the best wheelchairs for the outdoors, especially on an unpaved road. 

Also worth mentioning is that the handheld controls of this all-terrain wheelchair are very easy to use. You won’t have to worry about it getting in your way. 

2. Mid-Wheel Drive Power Wheelchair

mid-wheel drive

Mid-wheel-powered wheelchairs are usually narrower than other types of powered wheelchairs.

This being the case, it’s perfect for wheelchair users who always travel along tight and narrow spaces. 

I love how this type of wheelchair can make a complete 360 turn without taking up too much space. You don’t have to worry about maneuvering in a big room just to turn around. 

But one of my favorite features of mid-wheel drive wheelchairs is they usually sport six wheels: two and four caster wheels.

You can expect outstanding stability at all times. 

3. Front-Wheel Drive Power Wheelchair

Front-Wheel Drive

As its name suggests, most of the power of front-wheel drive chairs is found at the front.

The front wheels are usually larger yet still highly maneuverable. Making small turns is very easy. 

One noticeable design of front-wheel drive powered wheelchairs is the seat height is closer to the ground than the ceiling. 

Not to mention, this type of wheelchair easily fits under a table and desk. Some even come with desk-length removable armrests for more convenience. 

4. Standing Power Wheelchair

Standing Power Wheelchair

People with quadriplegia typically use standing wheelchairs because of their wide range of motions. 

With the help of a standing wheelchair, the user can easily switch from a standing to a lying down position.

Despite its design, this wheelchair stays safe and secure even in a standing position. 

Based on my research, standing wheelchairs have several benefits to bed-bound users like the following:

  • Improved blood circulation
  • Better done density
  • Prevents muscle tightness
  • Prevent pressure sores
  • Better breathing

Types of Specialty Wheelchairs

Not everyone needs a specialty wheelchair. As its name suggests, specialty wheelchairs are only ideal for people who want to help them with their condition.

Let’s get to know some of the different specialty wheelchairs out there.

1. Tilt Wheelchair

tilt wheelchair

Tilt wheelchairs allow the user to adjust their wheelchair up and down. The controls are easy to work around and usually require only a press of a button. 

Through the years, I have found that a tilting or reclining wheelchair is perfect for those who always experience back pain. It’s also ideal for patients who experience multiple sclerosis. 

With the help of tilt or reclining wheelchairs, they can adjust their position so they don’t have to suffer from a nasty back ache after many hours of sitting. 

2. Beach Wheelchair

beach wheelchair

As its name suggests, beach wheelchairs are supposed to be used on a beach. You might find the design of beach wheelchairs to be odd, but it serves a useful purpose. 

Its front and back wheels are larger and thicker than usual. Because of this design, traveling and maneuvering over sand is very easy. 

So if you or someone you know is a beachgoer, this is one of the best types of wheelchairs to use. The only drawback with this type of wheelchair is that it takes up a lot of space. 

3. Pediatric Wheelchair

pediatric wheelchair

Pediatric wheelchairs are designed specifically for children. This being the case, you can expect it to be comparably smaller than the usual manual wheelchair. 

Apart from its size, there’s no major difference between manual and pediatric wheelchairs.

Both function the same way and moving around with this wheelchair is very easy, even for a child. 

Just be sure to consult with your pediatrician about the features the wheelchair should have.

4. Bariatric Wheelchair

bariatric wheelchair

Bariatric wheelchairs are designed for users with higher weights and who experience mobility issues because of it. 

Most bariatric wheelchairs can hold up to an impressive 700 pounds, sometimes even more in certain cases. That being said, the seat is usually wider than the average manual chair. You’ve got a wide range of options when it comes to finding a wide wheelchair for bariatric patients.

Wheelchair Accessories

Wheelchair accessories are one of the best ways to make your life on the chair more comfortable and bearable. Here are some of the essential accessories you should check out.

1. Wheelchair Cushions

wheelchair cushions

Sitting in a wheelchair the whole day can feel very uncomfortable both for your bottom and back. 

One way to reduce this discomfort is by using wheelchair cushions. Some cushions are made of memory foam to give you the ultimate comfort.

2. Wheelchair Bags

wheelchair bags

If you bring a lot of things around, you’ll need a wheelchair bag. It serves as an all-in-one place for you to put your essentials! 

Wheelchair bags typically come in different sizes, depending on how much you plan to put in. Be sure to find the right size so they’re not overly big or too small. 

3. Armrests


Some wheelchairs already come built-in with this accessory, while others don’t. 

Armrests have a simple feature of ensuring you’ve got somewhere to lay your hand whenever. 

4. Joysticks


Joysticks are one of the usual accessories you’d typically find on powered models. It’s a very important feature because it’s what you use to control your movement while in the chair. 

One tip I can share with choosing the right joystick is to ensure they have a good grip.

5. Baskets


Another accessory to hold your things is a basket. They come in various sizes, so you can find one for all the wheelchairs you may have. 

However, keep in mind that you can’t put a basket on all types of wheelchairs, especially on manual chairs.

Benefits of Using a Wheelchair

Wheelchairs are very important for people who have mobility issues. There are a lot of benefits to using wheelchairs, and I’ve listed some of them below.

1. Mobility Independence

People with mobility issues no longer have to worry about going to places they want to visit. 

With the help of a trusted wheelchair, they can get from one place to another, even without any assistance. 

2. Improved Quality of Life

Having mobility issues isn’t an end-all and be-all case. 

Thanks to the different types of wheelchairs out there, people with mobility issues can still enjoy their usual activities. 

3. Accessibility

Many wheelchairs today are designed in such a way that they can fit even tight and narrow spaces. 

This being the case, going to different places anytime and anywhere won’t be an issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before I leave with my parting words, allow me to answer some of the FAQs I always get about the different types of wheelchairs. 

What Kinds of Wheelchairs Are Available?

I’ve named the different types of wheelchairs in this list. Here’s a rundown of some of the favorites that I mentioned today:

  • Electric wheelchairs
  • Standing wheelchairs
  • Recliner wheelchairs
  • Transport wheelchairs
  • Ultra lightweight wheelchairs
  • Terrain wheelchairs

Make sure to ask medicare or your healthcare provider if they cover wheelchairs. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.

How Do Manual and Power Wheelchairs Differ?

The main difference between manual and powered wheelchairs is their power source. 

Manual wheelchairs rely on muscle power, which makes it quite challenging for a wheelchair user to get around tight and narrow spaces or even on rough terrain. 

On the other hand, powered/ electric wheelchairs rely on battery power.

This means users don’t have to manually wheel themself to their destination. It’s an easy way to get around without experiencing too much strain. 

Are There Any Specialized Wheelchairs?

Yes, there are different types of specialized wheelchairs, depending on the user’s needs. Some specialized wheelchairs include the following:

  • Basketball wheelchairs
  • Positioning wheelchairs
  • Terrain wheelchairs
  • Racing wheelchairs
  • Folding wheelchairs

Do Wheelchairs Come In Different Sizes?

Yes. Whether you’re looking for a manual or electric scooter, there are always different sizes. Regardless of the body type and body weight, there’s always something. 

This ensures that the user feels comfortable even after being in a seated position for a long time. 

But keep in mind the larger and more advanced the wheelchair is, the higher the cost of the wheelchair.

What Materials Are Used to Make Wheelchairs?

Most wheelchairs are usually made of heavy-duty rigid frames to support whatever weight they carry.

Most common materials used to make wheelchairs include aluminum, stainless, steel, or even titanium. 

You might even be surprised to know that some chairs made of ultra-light materials are still heavy-duty and highly durable.


With the number of wheelchair types out there, I’m sure you’ll be able to find the perfect chair for your needs. Whether it’s for the most basic or severe disabilities, there’s always something.

We all have to take the inventor of the wheelchair for creating this useful medical equipment.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know in the comments which of the different wheelchairs I’ve mentioned you like. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Feel free to share this article with your friends and family who might just be looking for a reliable and heavy-duty wheelchair.