Bariatric wheelchairs are designed to accommodate a variety of bodyweights, typically from 250 pounds and over. Many heavy duty wheelchairs can support up to about 400 pounds, with some made specifically for even higher weights. Look for high quality steel construction with double cross braces; metal footplates will add durability as well. For added support, the seat material should be reinforced, such as a double padded or heavy duty vinyl.
Many extra wide wheelchair designs offer you options to tailor the model of your choice to your personal needs. Look for legrests that can be elevated or footrests that can be swung away or detached as desired. There are many choices in armrests as well, from full-length armrests to shorter, desk-length ones that enable you to maneuver closer to a desk or dining table. Arms may flip backwards out of the way and/or be detachable; often arms are also adjustable to enable you create the perfect position. Arms may come with sufficient padding or, if you need more comfort, padding in a variety of materials may be purchased as an accessory.
As with the purchase of any wheelchair, taking correct measurements before you by a bariatric wheelchair is essential. In particular, be sure that the seat of any extra wide wheelchair will be comfortable, especially if you are sitting for long periods. Many models are available in widths up to 24”. See all the guidelines for measuring on the main Wheelchair Buyer Guide.
Bariactric wheelchair accessories enable you to further customize your wheelchair. These include “anti-tips” to minimize the risk of falling or tipping over and a seat belt to prevent you from sliding down or out of a chair. Brake extensions are recommended for ease of use for those with arthritis or similar conditions. Cushions and back supports can better position you in the bariatric wheelchair. A product like the Skil-Care Bariatric Contour Cushion provides pressure relief with foam cushioning as well as secure positioning with two safety straps with side-release buckles. Comfort accessories include everything from a lap robe to a lap tray, from a clip-on light to a cup holder.
When you need only the occasional use of a wheelchair or want a lighter weight model that a caregiver can fold and stow in a car trunk when you’re going to travel to a doctor visit or other trip from home, consider a bariatric transport chair. The Heavy Duty Transport Chair from Invacare includes features such as swing-away footrests and removable padded arms, 12" flat-free rear wheels and 8" solid front casters, a seat belt and safety strap.