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What Should I Consider When Buying a Folding Wheelchair?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many types of wheelchairs to consider when the time comes to purchase one, but a folding wheelchair is the most popular type. Even disabled athletes often choose to use them during competition. This is primarily because this type of wheelchair ensures comfort while remaining versatile. In addition, it allows easier access and freedom of movement.

A folding wheelchair has numerous movable parts. They go through a great deal of strain, as with any wheelchair, but are often easier to repair because they are not as rigidly built. Portability is another plus, because the fact that the wheelchair folds makes it possible to transport it more easily — in most cases, the chair can simply be folded down and placed inside the trunk of a car. A standard wheelchair, on the other hand, requires a special apparatus in order to be transported, or it can only be transported with a large van.

In a similar way, a folding wheelchair can be packed away or carried when it is not in use. Most are light enough to be carried up stairs relatively easily, which makes them a good choice for people who don't have a lot of upper body strength. According to experts, the vertical X-frame folding wheelchair is the best type of wheelchair to purchase. It has a thin, compact structure, which makes it even easier to transport and to store than other models.

On the other hand, the folding wheelchair is not without its disadvantages. According to the American Medical Association, the X-frame model tends to have some stability issues. It is designed to fold side-to-side, which can cause issues with rigidity when the chair is open. As a result, some wheelchair manufacturers no longer produce wheelchairs with an X-frame. This model remains popular, however, because it is simple, sturdy, and functional.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By golf07 — On Sep 26, 2011

When my husband was recovering from surgery, we borrowed an Invacare folding wheelchair from a friend to help him get around.

Since I didn't have much experience transporting someone in a wheelchair, there were some challenging moments for me.

Even though this was supposed to be a lightweight wheelchair, it still took a lot of my strength to get it folded and placed in and taken out of the car.

It also took me awhile to get used to the leg adjustments and I know there were many times my husband wished he could have a better transporter as we had some rather interesting experiences..

I learned how thankful I am for the doors that automatically open and for sidewalks that slowly incline without any curbs to go over.

By sunshined — On Sep 25, 2011

I have a good friend who must use a wheelchair to get around. When she is in her own home she uses her power wheelchair to get around. As long as she is able to keep it charged up, this is the best option for her.

When she makes quick trips outside her home, she will often rely on a lightweight folding wheelchair.

This works well because it can easily be folded up and placed in the trunk of the car. The biggest disadvantage for her in using a folding wheelchair, is that most of them sit down so low and it is hard for her to get from the car seat to the wheelchair.

Many times she will use her power wheelchair, which has an adjustable seat, when she is getting in the car from the wheelchair, but getting out of the car into the folding wheelchair can be quite a struggle.

By amypollick — On Aug 31, 2011

A folding/transport wheelchair has been a godsend for my mom. She has mobility issues and cannot walk for long distances without becoming fatigued. Her wheelchair is light enough to be carried easily, and it also fits nicely in the trunk of my small sedan. I'd say size is a prime factor in buying a transport or folding wheelchair.

By anon158897 — On Mar 09, 2011

Weight is always an issue. By far the lightest folding wheelchair I found was the Quickie Xenon.

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