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Wheelchairs vs. Transport Chairs: What’s the difference?

Wheelchairs vs. Transport Chairs: What’s the difference?

Posted by Healthquest on 5th Oct 2022

Mobility aids are essential to people who are suffering from mobility impairments. These come in different types and sizes, but two stand out as the most common: wheelchairs and transport chairs.

Although wheelchairs and transport chairs look similar, they have unique features and use cases. Notably, wheelchairs have large wheels that allow users to move independently. Meanwhile, transport chairs feature smaller wheels and are designed for another person to push around.

Before buying, you should keep these in mind to ensure you’re getting the appropriate mobility tool to address your needs and situation.

When it comes to wheelchairs and transport chairs, HealthQuest has got you covered. We’re a medical supply store in the Sacramento metropolitan area that offers mobility aids, medical equipment, health supplies and more. Call us at (916) 238-1700 to learn more.

In this blog, we’ll break down the things you should know about the difference between wheelchairs and transport chairs.

What is a wheelchair?

As its name suggests, a wheelchair is a chair fitted with wheels to be used for transportation for people who cannot walk or have difficulty moving. Wheelchairs have a standard design frame but are available in various sizes, colors and designs.

The back wheels of a wheelchair are usually larger compared to its front wheels and have a handrail. This mechanism allows wheelchair users to propel themselves independently while seated. Since this motion only requires a person’s hand and arms, people with lower body paralysis can move around on their own using a wheelchair.

On average, wheelchairs weigh 25–45 lbs and have seats that measure 18”x18”. Also, seats are typically steel and have a cushioned fabric cover.

What is a transport chair?

Transport chairs look similar to wheelchairs but have different designs and mechanics. For one, transport chairs are smaller and lighter. They also lack handrails as they’re not intended for independent use.

Instead, a second person is meant to push the transport chair around. Because of this, transport chairs are commonly used in hospitals and retirement homes, where medical aides are present to assist patients.

Compared to wheelchairs, transport chairs are less bulky. As such, they’re more ideal for narrower and steeper pathways.

On average, a steel transport chair weighs between 15–35 lbs. Its seat is slightly smaller than a wheelchair’s, which is only around 16”x16”. In addition, its front and back wheels have the same size, unlike wheelchairs, where the back wheels are larger.

When to use a wheelchair and a transport chair

If you’re choosing between a wheelchair and a transport chair, here are a few questions you need to ask before making a purchase:

  • How often do you use a car?
  • Does your house have narrow doors and hallways?
  • How active is your lifestyle?

Transport chairs are lightweight and flexible, making them easier to carry, fold and store. They’re preferable for people who often go out and ride vehicles. Likewise, transport chairs are best for someone living in a house with narrow doors and hallways. Due to their compact size, transport chairs can easily navigate smaller spaces.

On the other hand, wheelchairs work best for people with active lifestyles. This is because wheelchair users can go places without needing anyone’s assistance.

Ideally, wheelchairs and transport chairs are used in conjunction with one another. However, wheelchairs are best used indoors since users can operate them independently. Meanwhile, transport chairs are used outdoors due to their compact size and flexibility.

If you have to choose between the two, we recommend buying a wheelchair before buying a transport chair. Wheelchairs allow you to move independently, making them the best choice for most situations. Additionally, unlike transport chairs, wheelchairs come with various customizations, so you can find one that truly fits your needs.

Find medical accessories near you

Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair or a transport chair, HealthQuest is your partner when it comes to medical devices and equipment. We offer all kinds of mobility aids, recliners, medical accessories and more.

If you’re looking for a medical supply store in the Sacramento metropolitan area, call us at (916) 238-1700 or leave us a message here. We’re happy to help you find the perfect solution for your needs. 

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