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The basics of reclining wheelchairs

by Shannon Lee

Reclining wheelchairs or tilt-in-space wheelchairs can make life easier for those with certain medical conditions. Is a reclining wheelchair right for you?

When you begin your search for the appropriate wheelchair, you might be surprised at all the options available to you. Manual wheelchairs are usually the most affordable and easiest to operate of all the wheelchair models on the market. Electric wheelchairs are great for those who have very limited mobility, including problems with using their arms and hands.

But the choices available to the wheelchair user go far beyond these two basic types. For those who have trouble sitting for long periods of time or need to frequently change position, reclining wheelchairs are a good option. Some prefer tilt-in-space wheelchairs that take functionality a bit further than reclining wheelchairs do.

Reclining Wheelchairs: Which Type is Right for You?

Reclining wheelchairs have a high back that reclines independently of the rest of the air, allowing the user to lie back in a more comfortable position. Tilt-in-space wheelchairs can move the seat, back, and leg rests together, allowing the user to move around with more stability.

Tilt-in-space wheelchairs are perfect for those with specific medical issues, including:

  • Poor muscular control in the head, neck, or trunk, making it difficult to sit upright for long periods of time.
  • Those with scoliosis, curvature of the spine, and other conditions that affect the strength and stability of the user's back.
  • Pain or pressure when sitting in a wheelchair can be relieved by the possible positions offered by reclining wheelchairs or tilt-in-space wheelchairs.
  • Those who have frequent seizures, sleep disorders, or fluctuating muscle control might feel safer or more secure in a reclining or tilt-in-space wheelchair.

Pros and Cons of Reclining Wheelchairs

Reclining wheelchairs can offer great advantages, but they also have a few drawbacks.

  • Reclining backs and moving seats allow for the most comfort and ease of use. Custom cushions can be designed to prevent pressure on certain points of the body.
  • Restraint systems can be built into the frame, allowing for more safety and security.
  • Seating trays, armrests, customized leg rests, lay trays, and communication mounts can easily be added to most tilt-in-space or reclining wheelchairs.
  • The reclining wheelchair is often larger than standard wheelchairs and might be more difficult to transport.
  • Many reclining wheelchairs can lie flat, allowing the user to sleep in the wheelchair if necessary.
  • Personal medical care for wheelchair users, such as diaper changing or catheterization, is made much easier by a reclining wheelchair that tilts back to a full 90 degree angle.
  • Tilt-in-space and reclining wheelchairs often cost more than their manual or basic electric counterparts.

When choosing a wheelchair for your medical needs, consider what will make you most comfortable. Also consider what will make your loved ones comfortable, especially if they will have to help you with day-to-day activities.