A Comparison Between the Rigid and the Folding Wheelchair

Published: 16th April 2009
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The manual wheelchair has two types: one with a collapsible frame and the other with a frame that is rigid. The one with a collapsible frame is called the folding wheelchair and it is easier to transport and store than the rigid-framed wheelchair. Because it has reinforcing struts as well as folding and locking mechanisms, the first is relatively heavier than the second.
A car can be used to transport a folding wheelchair. It can be placed in the car's trunk instead of having to provide for special moving arrangements or use a bigger vehicle such as a van. The wheelchair that folds usually has an x-frame that makes it possible to fold it sideways. When not in use, it can be kept in a small area of space.
When navigating on an uneven surface, the four wheels of the folding wheelchair remain on the ground because its flexible frame of the chair yields and bends to make up for the unevenness of the terrain. This makes it more stable on the uneven surface than the rigid framed chair. On the other hand, it is less stable on a hard floor surface.
While making it easy to fold and transport the chair, the parts of the folding chair that can be removed and adjusted can get lost or worn down more easily. The requirement for more frequent repair and replacement of these parts makes the chair that can be folded more expensive to maintain. The wheelchair with a rigid frame can be kept in good condition more economically.
The moving parts of the folding wheelchair make the chair's frame more flexible. This flexibility absorbs a significant portion of the force exerted to propel the chair. Thus, it is harder to control and push. Its relatively heavier weight adds to this difficulty, requiring more effort, as well as greater strength and dexterity, to propel and maneuver the wheelchair when compared to the rigid wheelchair.
There are certain activities that are not appropriate for the user of a chair that can be folded to engage in. The desirable features of the folding chair, namely portability and ease of storage, are the same factors that make it less durable and less stable. The ability to fold the chair necessitates some compromise in terms of chair stability and frame strength.
The folding wheelchair is most appropriate to those who are from zero to four years old as well those who are 60 to 90 years old. These individuals have minimal or no upper body strength thus requiring an attendant to push their chairs and the chair is not optimized for self propulsion, making them a perfect match. For those who are able to self-propel a chair, the rigid-framed is more appropriate.
It is more convenient for the invalid's companion to carry and stow a folding wheelchair because it is portable and easy to store, even if chair models that can be folded are relatively heavier than their rigid-framed counterparts. When folded, the collapsible chair also takes up much less space and is suitable for transportation in smaller vehicles as well as storage in smaller living quarters.

A Note from the Author: Find out more about the folding wheelchair at this website about various kinds of wheelchairs.

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