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What is a Heavy Duty Wheelchair?

Marco Sumayao
Marco Sumayao

A heavy duty wheelchair is a wheelchair designed to support more weight and last longer than a regular wheelchair. An average wheelchair can support individuals weighing as much as 300 pounds (about 136 kilograms) before the strain damages it, whereas a heavy duty wheelchair can support roughly 1,000 pounds (about 454 kilograms). Among the different types of wheelchairs, the heavy duty varieties are also more durable against wear and tear. Many heavy duty wheelchairs are designed specifically to go on surfaces and terrains with which regular wheelchairs would have difficulty. As such, use of a heavy duty wheelchair is not limited to overweight individuals; people with active lifestyles also benefit greatly from these devices.

The most common type of heavy duty wheelchair is a bariatric wheelchair, which is designed to allow larger individuals adequate mobility. For this matter, bariatric wheelchairs typically have larger seats than conventional wheelchairs. The frames of these wheelchairs can be made from several different reinforced metals, although a titanium wheelchair is often the most popular choice. The wheels themselves are made of thicker rubber than normal, preventing any possible failure due to the greater amount of weight supported. Most makes of bariatric wheelchairs fold like regular wheelchairs, making storage relatively easy despite the wheelchair's increased size.

A heavy duty wheelchair is designed to last longer that regular wheelchairs.
A heavy duty wheelchair is designed to last longer that regular wheelchairs.

Heavy duty wheelchairs can also be made for specific purposes. An off-road wheelchair, for example, is a heavy duty wheelchair designed for individuals who intend on spending a lot of time on rugged terrain. A beach wheelchair, on the other hand, is best for those who spend ample time by the sea. Progressive sports for the differently-able, such as wheelchair basketball and soccer, make use of a sports wheelchair. Certain makes might also possess improved suspension mechanisms, adding to the already-impressive durability of the heavy duty wheelchair.

For the user's convenience, a heavy duty wheelchair can either be manually-operated or motorized, each with its own pros and cons. A manual heavy-duty wheelchair gives full control of motion to the user, but the added weight from the reinforcements makes pushing or propelling the wheelchair much harder than normal. A motorized heavy duty wheelchair offers a solution to this dilemma, but is often more expensive and harder to maintain than a manual wheelchair. Some designs offer a combination of both, with a small motor assisting those pushing the wheelchair. The proper choice between types of heavy duty wheelchairs depends largely on the user's expected level of activity.

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    • A heavy duty wheelchair is designed to last longer that regular wheelchairs.
      By: Piotr Marcinski
      A heavy duty wheelchair is designed to last longer that regular wheelchairs.