What is a Mobility Chair?

Lainie Petersen

In order to compensate for limited mobility caused by age, illness, or disability, many people rely on a mobility chair to get around. Mobility chairs are a class of mobility aids that allow the user to remain seated while moving from one place to another. Wheelchairs are perhaps the best known type of mobility chair, but motorized scooters are also quite popular. Mobility chairs can be motorized or propelled manually, and there are special mobility chairs for specific needs, such as bariatric wheelchairs for the obese, reclining wheelchairs, and specially designed transfer chairs for health care settings.

Wheelchairs are the most common type of mobility chairs.
Wheelchairs are the most common type of mobility chairs.

If a user does not have the strength to propel a manual wheelchair, its efficacy as a mobility aid is limited for those who do not have an attendant who can push them in the chair. An electric wheelchair, also known as a motorized wheelchair, can enable someone with limited upper-body strength and mobility to move around independently. Reclining wheelchairs accommodate users with serious cardiac or respiratory issues that require that the user be in a reclining position. A bariatric mobility chair is larger, wider, and can bear more weight than standard wheelchairs. Foldable wheelchairs can be more expensive than standard models, but can be far more convenient for a user and his or her caregivers, as the chair can be folded and stored in the trunk or backseat of most cars, eliminating the need for a specially equipped wheelchair van.

Similar in concept to electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters and power chairs can be used by individuals who may be able to walk but cannot do so for long distances. Because the people who use these chairs are typically able to hold themselves upright and maneuver their chairs on their own, these chairs may have a slimmer design than wheelchairs. Mobility scooters are often designed to move over bumpy or rough terrain, making it easier for those who use them to explore their neighborhood and the outdoors.

If an individual is unable to buy a mobility chair on his own, he may qualify for assistance from his health insurance company, government medical program, or a grant from a private charity. Companies that sell mobility chairs can usually provide those who need financial assistance with guidance on how to get funding for their mobility aid, as can hospital social workers or advocacy groups for the disabled. Alternatively, mobility chair retailers may also rent chairs for those who need them on a temporary basis.

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