By Jannet Fararo
So called because it is moved using human power, the manual wheelchair has variants. It can be attendant propelled. This kind of wheel chair is pushed by another person who is assisting the user and do not have hand rims on the large wheels. Instead, there are handles at the back of the wheel chair by which the attendant propels and controls its course.
There is also the self propelled wheel chair. It is moved and driven by its occupant. The user does this through the hand rims attached to the outside of the large wheels. The diameter of these hand rims are less than that of the wheels for greater effectiveness. By manipulating these hand rims, the user can control the speed and direction of the chair.
A seat, back rest, foot rest, and four wheels (two large rear wheels and two small front wheels) are the fundamental components of the manual wheelchair. These components are often customized according to the needs of the user. The height and size of the chair, seat, and foot rest, and the angle of the back rest can be changed. Additional features are added as necessary.
A special kind of self propelled wheel chair can be controlled from just one side. This is the one arm drive type which has two hand rims, one of which is smaller than the other, on one side of the chair; the location can be on the left or right of the chair depending on specific needs. The chair can go forward or backward by moving the two together and turn left or right when only one is moved.
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Another means of moving a self propelled wheel chair is by the use of a lever. By pumping the lever in certain ways, the chair can be moved in any direction. For those who can not use their arms or hands, still another way of propelling is possible. This is through using one or both feet; special mechanisms are incorporated into the manual wheelchair to make manipulation by the feet possible.
There is a type of wheel chair, called the wheelbase chair, which can be specially tailored for the unique needs of users who have complicated postures. It is basically a platform with wheels to which a custom-made seat is attached. The seat of the wheelbase chair is usually molded from a cast of the user in the best seated posture that he can manage.
There is also a type of manual wheelchair that has a rigid frame, and there is a type that can be folded for easy storage. Some have back rests and foot rests that can be adjusted. There are also those that have safety belts, oxygen tank holders, drink holders, and other accessories that are specific to the needs of the users for which these are intended.
Wheelchairs can be made of various materials. The earlier types were usually made of wood. Nowadays, they are more commonly made from a combination of metals, plastics, and fabric and the wheels are very similar to those that can be seen on bicycles. The more expensive types are of lightweight materials while the less costly ones are usually made of tubular steel.
About the Author: Jannet Fararo is an expert on manuel wheelchair classifications and usage, and maintains a website which specializes in wheelchairs. Wheelchair-deals.com offers information and advice for people looking to buy a new wheelchair. There’s also a great wheelchair store, with many discounted wheelchairs on offer.
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(Topics include electric wheelchairs, mobility aids, mobility scooters )