Your Ultimate Guide to Transport Chairs

Your Ultimate Guide to Transport Chairs

29th Apr 2021

What is a Transport Chair?

Transport chairs are a good alternative to standard wheelchairs with their more compact and lighter designs. Also, they have smaller wheels that the users cannot reach to propel themselves, thus they are required to be pushed from behind by another person.

Thanks to their lightweight, compact design, in some occasions they are more ideal than the standard wheelchair. Nevertheless, there are several factors that will determine which one is the ideal option for the user.

Who Should be Using a Transport Chair?

Transport chairs are for people with partial mobility issues, meaning they can walk and move around by themselves but usually with the assistance of walker, rollator, or cane. With this mobility chair, they can travel longer distances with much ease and convenience.

Furthermore, transport chairs are ideal for users who still possess upper body strength, while standard wheelchairs are recommended for people who need full-body support.

Difference of Transport Chairs vs. Wheelchairs

At a quick glance, transport chairs and wheelchairs look the same, with some people even using the term interchangeably. However, there are key design differences between these two mobility aids that will determine which one is the best option for the user. 

Transport Chairs Wheelchairs
Pros: Pros:
Smaller, more lightweight than the standard wheelchairs Bigger wheels fitted with handrail allow the users to propel themselves forward
More convenient for travel with their compact, foldable design Provide full-body support for users with no or very little upper body strength
A narrow transport chair is easier to maneuver on narrow passageway Provide better balance
Usually cost less than wheelchairs
Cons: Cons:
Require another person to push from behind the chair Heavier, more cumbersome than transport chairs
Provide less balance with its smaller wheels May not fit into narrow passageways
May not be convenient for long travel More expensive than transport chairs and other mobility aids

What Should You Look for When Buying a Transport Chair?

Once you have decided that a transport chair is the mobility aid that meets your current needs, the next step is to know the fundamental designs that you have to take into consideration before buying.

  1. Compact Design
    Because the main selling point of transport chairs is their compact design, their frame is often foldable and comes with a shoulder strap to make them easy to carry. Furthermore, their weight is usually between 15 lbs. and 35 lbs. that makes them significantly lighter than the average wheelchair.
  2. In general, transport chairs that are on the “heavier” side are fitted with extra features like travel bag, cup holder, adjustable footrests, among others.

    Other transport chairs, meanwhile, can be disassembled so they can easily fit inside a vehicle and a compartment.

  3. Price
    The price of transport chairs varies widely, from $75 to $200, while the average cost of standard wheelchairs is $500. Nevertheless, the price should not be the only determining factor when making a purchase since the user’s comfort and need is of utmost importance.

  4. Ergonomic Design
    The ergonomic design is arguably the most important factor that one must consider before purchasing a transport chair. The general rule of thumb is to choose a design that promotes good posture, minimizes pressure relief, and provides comfort not just for the users but also for the caregiver during travel

    Meanwhile, the overall ergonomic design takes into account the hand grips, footrest, handlebars , and seat padding.

Choosing The Right Transport Wheelchair

The right transport wheelchair is the one that provides comfort and functionality for both the user and the caregiver. So when making a purchase, pay a closer look at the ergonomic design. (Is the footrest adjustable? Does the seat padding minimize pressure during long travels? Does the armrest prevent fatigue?)

You might also want to visit customer review sites like Yelp to see which model might be a good fit for you (the reviews here are more reliable than testimonials on company sites), or ask your medical professional for their recommendations. 

Different Transport Chair Types:

  • Heavy Duty Transport Chairs
    Their sturdy framework is designed for a person who weighs between 300 lbs and 500 lbs.
  • Lightweight Transport Chairs
    Ideal for users who are on a tight budget and/or those who travel frequently.
  • Steel Transport Chairs
    While this is another great budget-friendly option, a steel transport chair is significantly heavier than the one made of aluminum. This could be an issue if you do frequent travels.
  • Transport Chairs with Flip-Up Arms
    Transport chairs with a flip-up, detachable armrest is particularly ideal if you want to easily transfer in and out of your mobility chair.
  • Transport Chairs with Hand Brakes
    Some transport chairs are fitted with handbrakes located in the rear wheels, handlebars, and/or back wheel so they are accessible to the caregiver.

To rent or to buy a transport chair?

You might want to invest in a high quality, ergonomically designed transport chair if you do frequent travel. But if you only need it for a special event (e.g., vacation) or for a post-surgery recovery, renting is a more cost-effective option. After all, it requires maintenance and repair, which of course costs money.