In the past manual wheelchairs had no additional features at all. At most the choice was between a manual wheelchair that folded or one that did not fold. In the past though wheelchairs were not made to be comfortable, they were just made so that caregivers could push the disabled people they cared for. However these days disabled people and their caregivers have more of an input into the features included in manual wheelchairs. Non-manual wheelchairs have perhaps also had an impact on the features included in today’s manual wheelchairs.
In the past there was a tendency to make really basic manual wheelchairs, which had little or no features. To make things worse nearly all the wheelchairs were the same. Such wheelchairs were typically heavy so even when disabled people wanted to wheel themselves around it was not always possible, and a caregiver would have to take them where they wanted to go. Ironically perhaps it was the development of non-manual wheelchairs that has contributed to today’s models having increased features. Such wheelchairs allowed the users to steer themselves so they could control where they were going. The other thing about non-manual wheelchairs was that they were custom made, one size no longer had to fit all.
New Manual Wheelchair Features
The adaptability and the ability to have chairs custom made are welcome features to today’s manual wheelchairs. The user has a much greater influence over the features included in their wheelchair. For example they could request that they have a lighter chair, so that it is easier for them to wheel themselves about. Alternatively have more advanced steering so that they can get about completely independently, and no longer have the need to have a caregiver with them wherever they go to. Maybe users want to have increased cushioning so that their wheelchair is more comfortable for them.
Aside from users having a greater influence over the features included in today’s manual wheelchairs advances in technology mean that wheelchairs have become lightweight as modern materials are lighter yet stronger than the materials used in older wheelchair models. Lighter chairs are easy to fold, and unfold so people will find it easier to get in and out of cars and mobility scooters.
Some specialist manual wheelchairs of today can even be used for sporting activities such as athletics and basketball. It would be much harder to compete in the Paralympics with old style manual wheelchairs. Yet today’s manual wheelchairs can have enough features fitted to allow the users to be world class athletes.