Designed to be pushed by a companion. Lightweight with smaller rear wheels.
For the caregiver and patient alike, a transport wheelchair can be a godsend. Unlike a regular wheelchair, a transport chair can’t be operated by the person sitting in it. It has four small wheels and needs to be pushed from behind. However it has many advantages for the person doing the pushing.
Transport chairs are much lighter than regular wheelchairs. In fact, some are considered ultra-lightweight, coming in at just over 14 pounds. Even the average transport chair is still less than 20 pounds. They also fold nearly flat and are relatively easy to lift into and out of a car.
There are many circumstances in which a transport chair makes a great difference in quality of life for the person with limited mobility and their caregiver.
On a temporary basis, a transport chair is an essential aid during the recovery phase of an illness, when getting around on one’s own feet is still difficult, yet there are many doctor appointments to get to from home. Use the transport chair to get to the car, then from the car to the medical facility. A transport chair goes virtually anywhere—it’s a great way for the recuperating patient to enjoy some time outdoors when not yet able to walk for long stretches.
For someone permanently immobile, having a transport chair in addition to a standard wheelchair again makes going out easier, particularly if you don’t have a specially outfitted van with ramps to accommodate the standard wheelchair. It’s also a good option for a travel wheelchair when going by car or plane, for instance, because it is so easy to fold up and place in a car trunk or to gate-check when going on an airplane.
Although it can weigh less than half of the average wheelchair, transport chairs are made of durable construction. Most models can support a person who weighs up to 250 or 300 pounds. Bariatric transport wheelchairs are made for people up to 400 or 450 pounds. Because of this, the chairs themselves are heavier, weighing between 30 and 50 pounds.
Although a transport chair is easily folded, measuring before you buy is important, both for the user’s comfort and to be sure that a fully opened chair can pass through doorways and hallways inside your home. Be sure to consider the seat width for the user and look carefully at the overall width of the chair, measured from one outside wheel to the other outside wheel, to be certain you’ll have the clearance you need.
Innovations in transport wheelchair design have led to models that satisfy two needs. One example is the Drive Duet Transport Chair & Rollator. It has all the features of both mobility devices—users have a rollator when able to walk by themselves and a transport chair that can be pushed by a caregiver. The two position padded contoured back rest can be attached to the front or the back for maximum comfort and convenience. It weighs only 19 pounds and the large 8” casters are good for indoor and outdoor use.
Another choice is the Poly-Fly Lightweight Wheelchair/Transport Chair Combo. It’s a combination wheelchair and transport chair and has quick release 24” wheels and two sets of brakes to convert from one to the other. At 36 pounds, it weighs more than lightweight transport chairs, but less than the average wheelchair—a great compromise considering the savings of buying just one product.
A transport chair facilitates movement of any physically limited individual from one location to another, without the need to use a traditional wheelchair that is heavy and hard to collapse and put in a car. A transport chair typically has four small wheels, two in the front and two in the rear. The equal-sized front and rear wheels are the distinguishing characteristic of a transport wheelchair as compared to a regular wheelchair. The small wheels in the rear mean that the user cannot propel the transport chair forward. Someone else must push the chair from behind. For this reason, a transport wheelchair is also called a companion wheelchair. The transport chair can be quickly folded, for easy placement in the trunk of different vehicles, including compact cars. Being lightweight and foldable, the transport chair is the appropriate mobility device for short trips, such as doctors’ appointments, quick errands or visits to the mall, as long as the caregiver can handle all the maneuvering. It is not designed, however, to support extended periods of sitting. When choosing a transport chair, consider the weight of the chair, to be assured of ease in folding and taking it in and out of a vehicle, as well as the amount of weight the chair can hold. The comfort provided is another factor, even if it is not meant to be used all day, and the seat width—typically 19”, but 22” to 24” styles are available—should be checked to be sure it will accommodate the patient. Depending on how often the transport wheelchair will be used, other features may be important, including elevated footrests, removable arms, hand brakes or seat belts, skid-proof footplates, a wheelchair pouch with pockets on the side or back, foldable back, a cup holder and straps to help carry the transport chair itself.