New materials and design innovations have led to lighter and lighter wheelchairs, with many models in the 15-35 lb range (super high-tech, ultra lightweight wheelchair designs now weigh in below 10 lb, but can cost over $8,000).
A lightweight wheelchair is easier to maneuver, especially when going up a ramp. It’s also easier to lift and place in a car trunk. Yet there’s no skimping on the comfort features available.
Lightweight wheelchairs are made from lighter yet stronger metals, including aluminum, carbon steel and the lightest (and most expensive), titanium. Aluminum or steel wheelchairs weigh in anywhere from 25 to 35 lb, while the titanium models can weigh as little as 8 to 15 lb. (Keep in mind that with some lightweight wheelchairs, the maximum weight of the user is lower than with a heavier, standard weight wheelchair.)
One of the types you might be considering is a folding wheelchair. They offer convenience for someone who might not be able to walk long distances or who needs help when leaving the house, but who doesn’t need to be in a wheelchair all the time. Folding wheelchairs in general are easy to take apart and place in a car or closet for storage. Convenience sometimes outweighs the comfort factor.
On the other hand, because a rigid wheelchair is meant to be used daily, this style of lightweight wheelchair usually offers more features, many of which can be customized to the needs of the user. For instance, you might choose elevated leg rests and a back that reclines for resting in the chair, or swing-away footrests that offer easier transfers or the ability to propel with your feet. Another choice to make might be between regular armrests and “desk” arms that enable user to move the wheelchair closer to a desk or dining table. The Medline Excel K4 Lightweight Wheelchair with quick release axles/wheels and push-button arm release also features padded and upholstered “swing back” arms. Considering such comfort factors is extremely important when the lightweight wheelchair will be used every day and for a variety of activities.