5 top elements to look for in a wheelchair:

(Content creation pitch for a catalog company)

If you have ever shopped for a sofa, you probably spent time searching for a couch that fit your space, was sturdy, and above all, comfortable. It stands to reason, then, that you would put similar research into a wheelchair in which you spend a significant amount of time. Consider the following:

Weight - Not only may the chair have to be lifted in and out of a vehicle, but unless the chair is fully powered, you or someone else will frequently be propelling your full body weight forward, in addition to the weight of the chair, and sometimes on an incline.

Cushion - Depending on the disability and sensation in the areas of the body that make contact with the chair, the “cush for your tush” may be essential in preventing general discomfort or other ailments such as skin sores. There are a number of seat cushion options on the market, including gel and gel hybrids, inflatable seats, and different types of foams.

Tires - The wheel components will determine the comfort and quality of your ride. Keep in mind that although pneumatic (air-filled) tires may provide a smoother ride than solid tires, they come with the risk of being punctured or flattened. Additionally, you may want to consider a caster (smaller front wheels) with wide tread and diameter. The increased size helps minimize the number of “wheelies” required to breach higher thresholds and unintentional “quick stops” when your front wheel hits a rock or other obstacle.

Size - Not only will your assembled chair sometimes need to fit in tight interior spaces, it also likely needs to fold up to fit into a vehicle. There are portable chairs on the market that can fold down to less than a foot in width and fit easily in a trunk or back seat. If you are confined to a wheelchair in your home, be sure to have measurements taken around your home to consider your available space before purchasing, since home improvements after the fact can be costly.

Power - If you are considering a power chair, consider the on-board options including motor size, battery life, maximum speed, and maneuverability of the chair.

Lastly, consider adding smaller accessories such as foot rests, storage baskets, cup holders, and trays – and then roll with it!