|The different types of Wheelchairs|
We have divided our wheelchairs into three main types: Transit; Self-Propel; and Powerchairs.
"Transit" chairs can only be pushed by an attendant or companion. They have small wheels at the back (typically 12" diameter) as well as the castors at the front. "Self-Propel" chairs have large wheels at the back (typically 20-24" diameter) which enable the user of the chair to move themself by getting hold of the wheel grips. The Self-Propel can also be pushed by an attendant from behind in the same way as a Transit chair.
It is worth noting that the Self Propel chairs take a fair amount of effort by the user to move. For this reason they are not appropriate for long distances outdoors. However they do give the user more freedom to move around for short distances, especially indoors. Moreover some attendants actually find them easier to push from behind than they do a Transit. The larger wheels on a Self-Propel chair make it slightly more expensive than a Transit equivalent and also harder to transport in, for example, the back of a car. However most of our Self-Propel chairs have quick release wheels that are extremely easy to take off and put back on, so this need not be a problem. Moreover most of our chairs are aluminium, making them much lighter than those usually found in hospitals. There is also a half way house between manual chairs and the Powerchair (the third category of wheelchair), in the form of a powerpack that can be attached to manual chairs to help an attendant to push more easily.
"Powerchairs" give the occupant a lot of control over where they want to go and are mainly for long-term users. Compared with mobility scooters they turn in a much smaller space. They are driven by a toggle or joystick handle on the armrest. Specifications vary according to whether they are primarily for indoor or outdoor use and how far you wish to travel without charging the battery. Some are designed to easily dismantle for transport in a vehicle whilst others fold for the same reason. If they dismantle then they tend to be lighter but folding chairs are usually more compact.