Buying Guide

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Transport wheelchairs and Standard wheelchairs are critical in helping individuals who experience ambulation difficulties navigate through their environment. These tools are valuable to increase independence and quality of life. Although Transport Chairs and Wheelchairs look similar, it is important to understand the difference between the two wheelchairs to ensure you are investing in the best product.   

Transport Wheelchair Overview


Transport Wheelchairs are lightweight mobility aids that provide the function of a wheelchair and the convenience of a foldable rolling walker. This chair is not created for the user to self propel due to the small wheel sizes. Assistance from a caregiver is required to push the user. Consider the following factors when selecting your transport chair: 
  • Weight: Transport chairs come in various sizes and weights depending on the users needs. A lightweight transport chair is considered 25 pounds or less. An ultra lightweight transport chair can weigh up to 19 pounds or less with a user weight capacity of up to 250 pounds. However, some transport chairs can weigh up to 35 pounds or more (standard wheelchair weight). These chairs resemble standard wheelchairs. It is important to note that the more accessories a transport chair has, the more it weighs. Be sure to select a transport chair easy to manage.  
  • Seat Design and Dimensions: Transport chair seat dimensions are usually 16" X 17" or 16" X 19". Be sure to consider the design of the seat, backrest, and arm support. Consider the seat material and padding. Ask yourself, does this provide enough support to sit in for hours? Will this material irritate my skin? Be sure to select a transport chair that will be comfortable. 
  • Wheel Size: Transport chairs have smaller wheels compared to standard wheelchairs. Smaller wheels significantly change the function and operation of the chair. All 4 wheels are  8" or smaller. The pair of wheels in the front swivel to increase maneuverability. However, the rear wheels are static. These chairs have wheelchair brakes to ensure safety when transferring in and out of the chair. Due to small wheel sizes, a caregiver is required to push the user of the chair. Be sure to consider if the user will have a caregiver to assist in navigation. 
  • Chair Width: Transport chairs can navigate through many narrow spaces that standard wheelchairs can not. ADA accessible guidelines state that door openings shall clear a width of 32" minimum to a maximum of 48". Measure any narrow spaces in your home or in the primary environment the transport chair will navigate throughout to ensure that it meets ADA guidelines. Rest assured that all transport chairs are able to clear ADA approved bathrooms and doors without any issues. 

Standard Wheelchair Overview

Standard Wheelchair are mobility aids that assist people who experience difficulty walking. These difficulties may be related to poor endurance, pain, neurological issues, paralysis, and/or underlying conditions. Standard wheelchairs are designed to increase the user's independence by providing features on the chair for the user to propel and navigate the chair. These are the most common used type of wheelchairs. 
The smaller pair of front wheels measure at about 8" in diameter and swivel for increased maneuverability. Unlike transport wheelchairs, standard wheelchairs have a rear pair of extra large wheels equipped with handrails. Standard wheelchairs have a seat size of 16" x 18", a weight around 35lbs, and a weight capacity of up to 250lbs. There are many different styles of wheelchairs to optimize the user's experience. Dimensions may vary depending on the chairs purpose. However, they have a few standard features. 
Consider the following when shopping for a wheelchair: 

  • Will I need electric or manual? Manual wheelchairs require more effort from the user to navigate the wheelchair via handrails. However, for user's who maintain upper extremity range and strength, this chair promotes independence. Electric wheelchairs increase comfort and require less effort from the user. The user is able to control the chair with a vehicle control unit. The chair can be equipped with a second battery to increase the chair's range. 
  • How comfortable do I need to be in my chair? The user must consider how long they will be in the chair. If the user is using this chair as their primary method of mobility, select a thick seat cushion, armrests, headrests, footrests, and any other chair accessory necessary. If this chair will be used infrequently and for short periods of time, accessories that provide long term comfort may not be necessary. 
  • What features will I need on my chair? Before purchasing a wheelchair, consider what accessories are necessary to fit the user's lifestyle. Consider the user's body measurements, especially the arm rests and foot rests, so that the user is comfortable. Will I need a wheelchair with a weight capacity that can hold more than 250lbs? If the user needs a wheelchair that can manage more weight, consider a bariatric wheelchair or a chair that is made with heavy-duty materials. Do I need assistance standing or will I need pressure relief? Consider a wheelchair that has a built in stander or that can tilt to address ambulation and pressure relief concerns. Will I use this chair outdoors? Consider a wheelchair with larger wheels to ease the navigation through different terrains.