There are 2 main kinds of wheelchair, the manual and powered ones. The most common types of wheelchair are self propelled as powered wheelchairs cost much more.
The basic design for a wheelchair consists of two large rear wheels and two front caster wheels. Caster wheels are wheels that pivot freely about a point so that the wheelchair can move in any direction. There would be two movable leg rests, designed such that they can be easily turned away for the occupant to get out of the chair. There will be two handle bars above the backrest for helpers to assist in propelling the wheelchair.
The user pushes the wheelchair forward by turning on the outer rims of the wheels. To make turns, the user simply has to control the direction and speed of both wheels to make the desirable maneuver.
A standard wheelchair can cost anything from US100 to more than US2000 for an ultra lightweight one.
Ultra lightweight wheelchairs are favoured by everyone as it is light and easy to transport. The only issue is the price as one can easily cost more than US2000. For those who can afford, ultra light wheelchairs offer unprecedented convenience especially if the user drives. It is easy for them to fold the wheelchair while on the driver’s seat and carrying it into the car for storage as wheelchairs like this usually weight no more than 30 pounds. As for attendants or family members who are aged, a lightweight wheelchair is nothing but a great relief to their aching muscles.
For those who cannot self propel the wheelchair, they need an attendant to help them. The wheelchairs made for this purpose are slightly different. They have smaller wheels and there are no outer rims. Wheelchairs like this are called Attendant-propelled chairs.
One variant of the Attendant-propelled chairs is the pediatric wheelchair. Kids who are required to be wheelchair bound would usually opt for this as they have smaller fitting seats and usually have multiple growth adjustments to cater for the children as they grow bigger. Some of them come with “tilt in chair” function which supports the chair at an angle, providing extra comfort for the user.
The other kind of manual wheelchair are sports wheelchairs. As the name suggests, they are used when playing sports. The ones for basketball and athletics are much different from each other. Wheelchairs for court sports like disability basketball have a simple yet effective mechanism to help turn both wheels forward with just one hand. Two rims, one smaller than the other, are located either on the left or right wheel. The smaller rim is connected to the wheel on the opposite side. So when the user wishes to dribble the ball forward, he just has to turn two rims with one hand while bouncing the ball with the other. Whenever he needs to turn, he just has to control either wheel forward or backward to turn left or right. This kind of wheelchair is called Court Chairs
Wheelchairs used in track events are called racer chairs. As it implies, it is built for racing events ranging from the 100m dash to the grueling 5000m. It is long, tapering and aerodynamic, for very obvious reasons. Usually it consist of three wheels, two rear propelled by the athlete and one guide wheel in the front. A front steering system and brakes give it the likes of a mountain bike.
Powered wheelchairs are the fruits of technological advancement. All the user has to do is just moving a joystick to maneuver the big machine. The motors fitted onto the wheelchair are powered by rechargeable batteries. These wheelchairs usually come with user friendly features like seat-angle, depth of backrest, and height of chair adjustments. Powered wheelchairs can easily cost US4000 to more than US5000.