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Manual Wheelchairs / Self-Propelled Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are the most basic type of wheelchair available on the market for seniors and other individuals with limited mobility. Find all the features and benefits you need on AvaCare Medical now. We offer a full selection of self-propelled wheelchair in various sizes, designed for both elderly and disabled individuals. Read more...

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  1. Sentra Extra Heavy Duty Wheelchair
    Sentra Extra Heavy Duty Wheelchair
    Starting at $548.85
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The prime benefit of using a wheelchair is that it allows these people to maintain an active lifestyle regardless of their physical ability. These traditional wheelchairs require users to employ upper-body aerobic exercise to maneuver the chair. There are different manual wheelchair models in various sizes, with various levels of comfort.

Types of Manual Wheelchairs

Self-propelled manual wheelchairs are either pushed by a caregiver or maneuvered with the individual’s own upper body strength. The user will use his hands on the wheels to move and steer. These are commonly seen as regular wheelchairs, as they are rather basic in comparison to powered wheelchairs. The following are some of the types of self-propelled wheelchairs available:

Folding: While most manual wheelchairs fold for easy transport and storage, some can be more compact than others. Folding manual wheelchairs are easier to manage since they feature lightweight construction, and are sized in a way that makes folding it an easy process.

Lightweight: Lightweight wheelchairs offer users the ability to maneuver with less effort. Users and caregivers are able to fold them quickly and easily for storage and transport. Take note that lightweight frames may not be suitable for bariatric use. One should ascertain before use whether or not the wheelchair can accommodate the required weight. 

Bariatric: Bariatric manual wheelchairs often have a more durable frame, as well as a wider seat width to accommodate bariatric patients. These chairs may weigh more due to the extra-heavy construction material which is needed for durability.

How to Choose the Right Manual Wheelchair

When looking to buy manual wheelchairs, there are many options to consider. Customers can choose a seat width between 12 and 30 inches, depending on the size of the user. This range covers users from pediatric to bariatric and everything in between. The standard seat width of a manual wheelchair for average adults is between 16 and 22 inches.

One can also select a model with a weight capacity of up to 700 pounds for sturdy support to handle even heavier weights. In addition, customers can choose wheelchairs in a variety of colors to suit individual taste preferences.

Key Features

There are many different features that a manual wheelchair can come with. One such feature is padded arms, which keep the user feeling most comfortable. There are also different wheelchair frames and dimensions to choose from. This allows individuals to feel more comfortable and confident in their safety. 

The back support of the wheelchair is another important feature. Some models feature supports tailored to the needs of taller individuals. Legrests likewise help accommodate individual needs.


The size of the manual wheelchair can make a huge difference in terms of comfort and safety. The most common sizes are 16", 18", and 20" manual wheelchairs, though sizes go up to 30 inches to aid in the comfort and safety of bariatric users. 

Manual wheelchairs are lightweight and user-propelled, making them more economical and easier to navigate than powered wheelchairs. The average weight of a normal wheelchair is 35 to 40 pounds, while a lightweight wheelchair can weigh about 27 to 35 pounds. Most standard wheelchairs have a weight capacity of 250 to 300 pounds.

Other Considerations

When considering a specific wheelchair type, you will need to select seat width size and leg-rest type (some leg rest types swing away, while others allow for feet elevation). With some manual wheelchairs, customers can also choose between removable and permanent armrests, as well as desk-length (for accessibility to tables and desks) or full length (for additional arm support) models. You may also want to consider reclining wheelchairs, which are highly durable and made with a backrest that reclines to allow for position changes and improved circulation.

How to Use a Regular Wheelchair

To maneuver a manual wheelchair, a user will often use his hands to propel his chair by placing their hands on the wheel castings to move forward, backward and steer. Some individuals even use their feet to propel their wheelchair. These chairs often do not have features such as feet or leg rests attached, as they can get in the user’s way when using their feet to move about. Self-propelled wheelchairs can be pushed by caregivers in the same fashion as normal wheelchairs; oftentimes users still help caregivers when and where they are able. 

Tips for Improving Comfort 

For added seat comfort, especially for people who use their wheelchairs for long periods of time, you may want to consider a wheelchair cushion. This can offer benefits such as pressure relief, positioning, and surface stability. Finding a chair that offers padded rests for one’s legs and arms can also aid in user comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should Someone Choose a Self-Propelled Wheelchair?

Self-propelled wheelchairs can be folded for easier storage and transport. These portable wheelchairs are durable and perfect for long-term and heavy use. For individuals who have upper-body strength but are wheelchair-bound, a manual wheelchair can be a great way to maintain overall health, thanks to the exercise required to navigate. 

Do I Need a Heavy Duty Wheelchair?

It’s important to get a manual wheelchair that’s right for you, and for some people above 300 lbs., that means looking into options like heavy-duty wheelchairs, which are designed to be extra strong for bariatric weights up to 700 lbs.

If you’re not sure what you need, give us a call or check out our Wheelchair Buying Guide today!


Here at AvaCare Medical, we stand behind all our products. You can shop with confidence, knowing that you are getting the best for your money. Remember, any manual wheelchair you purchase from us will be shipped to you immediately – for free!