For individuals with limited mobility, the right wheelchair can make a significant difference in their quality of life. Wheelchairs make it easier to travel, reduce the risk of injury, and allow you to participate in your favorite activities. But they can also require an upfront investment, and with such a wide variety of wheelchairs on the market – and at vastly different price points – you may have a hard time deciding whether you’d rather save money and go with a cheap wheelchair, or splurge on a more expensive one.
To help demystify the difference between cheap and expensive wheelchairs, here are a few key factors that may influence how much they cost.
There are generally three broad categories of wheelchairs: manual, transport, and electric.
Manual wheelchairs are the most frequently used wheelchairs, with large rear wheels that enable users to propel themselves forward with their hands. They vary in price depending on the characteristics of the individual chair – such as whether they are standard or heavy-duty – but there are options available for most every budget.
Designed for short trips, transport wheelchairs are lightweight and tend to have few frills. Because of this, they are also the least expensive wheelchair option. They do, however, require another person, such as a caregiver or family member, to push them around, since they lack the large self-propelling back wheels.
Motorized wheelchairs are the most expensive option, due to the cost of the associated electrical components. For individuals with long-term mobility issues and limited hand or arm strength, though, they may be worth the cost.
For manual wheelchairs, the less they weigh, the more expensive they tend to be. That’s because lightweight wheelchairs are typically made from titanium. Titanium is half the weight of aluminum, which is what most standard wheelchairs are made from. Aside from making the wheelchair easier to maneuver and transport, titanium can also reduce vibrations when traveling over rough or uneven terrain. This provides the user with a more comfortable ride.
Adjustability of Wheelchair
Different parts of the wheelchair can be made adjustable to create a more comfortable and adaptable experience. Examples of adjustable features include flip-back armrests, removable footrests, folding backrests, and convertible front and rear wheels. The more adjustable features there are on a wheelchair, the more expensive it is likely to be.
Customizability of Wheelchair
Additionally, long-term wheelchair users who have preferences for how they would like their chair configured can hire consultants to custom design their manual chairs. This is generally a costly process, but can be invaluable for those seeking specific features and functionality.
Optional add-ons can make the experience in a wheelchair extra comfortable and convenient, though they may not add any value to its primary function. Some add-ons that may improve the quality of a wheelchair ride include shock absorbers, high-performance rims and wheels, or supportive cushions.
Every wheelchair user has difference needs and preferences, and an expensive wheelchair isn’t always the best choice for you. To determine what kind of wheelchair to invest in, ask yourself these questions to get started:
If necessary and possible, work with an occupational therapist who has experience with wheelchairs to help you make your decision.
Buy or Rent Wheelchairs from Avondale Home Medical Equipment
No matter your budget, Avondale Home Medical Equipment can help you find a wheelchair to suit your individual needs. We carry a wide variety of manual and transport wheelchairs, both of which are available to rent for short-term convalescence or trial periods, on either a weekly or monthly basis.
Call Avondale at (623) 295-2724 for more information on our wheelchair inventory. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff members are happy to answer any questions you may have.