Transport Wheelchairs: Advantages and Disadvantages
Transport wheelchairs, also called transport chairs, are small, lightweight and easy to transport chairs that are intended to get a patient from point A to point B as easily as possible. There are some drawbacks to them though. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of transport wheelchairs below.
Advantages of Transport Wheelchairs
Transport chairs have several advantages that make them a good choice for a wheelchair is portable but only needed occasionally.
Transport wheelchairs are extremely lightweight. Many of these chairs are made of lightweight aluminum and weigh 19 lbs or less. Because they weigh less than most other wheelchairs, they are easy to take places with you. This makes them very easy to pick up and place in the trunk of your car or the back of a pickup truck. Because of this, they are often used for trips away from the home rather than longer-term use in a home.
Transport wheelchairs fold up easily. There are no parts of the wheelchair that need to be removed to fold up the chair. Just flip up the footplates, pull up on the seat upholstery, and the chair is ready to go. Most models also have backs that fold down. This leaves a smaller, more compact package to load into the vehicle.
Cheap to Purchase
Transport wheelchairs are inexpensive. Many of these can be purchased for less than $150.00 with a few models coming in under $100.00.
Disadvantages of Transport Wheelchairs
Like all mobility equipment, disadvantages should be considered. Most of the disadvantages of transport chairs have to do with the needs of the user.
Cannot Self Propel
The rider will always need to be pushed. Transport wheelchairs have 4 small caster-sized wheels and no hand rims. This means the rider will not be able to propel themselves in the chair because they can not reach the wheels. Someone must always be available to move the rider when needed. This is why transport wheelchairs are typically used for short-term transportation needs like doctor visits, quick trips to the store, etc.
Transport chairs don’t have many options for seating. These chairs usually only come with basic nylon upholstery. The upholstery is also stretched pretty tight between the sides of the wheelchair. While this makes the chair easy to fold, this can make the seat surface uncomfortable. Especially if the rider will be sitting in it for a long period of time. You can read my suggestions for a comfortable wheelchair here.
Few Size Options
There aren’t many size options. Most of the transport wheelchairs only come in 17″ or 18″ wide seats. These sizes are probably fine for the majority of people. However, is the rider is a bit overweight, fitting into one of these chairs may be difficult or even impossible. To learn more about finding a wheelchair that fits properly, check out this guide.
A Few Words about Insurance Benefits for Transport Wheelchairs
While most insurance plans will cover the cost of a transport wheelchair, it may not be in the patient’s best interest. Many insurance plans will only pay for one wheelchair every five years. If the benefit is used to pay for the transport chair, then the patient may not be able to get more appropriate equipment later should they need it.
Also, because the insurer may only pay for one chair every five years, the company will not pay for a regular wheelchair or power wheelchair and a transport wheelchair. It is an “either/or” situation. Because the transport wheelchair costs much less than the other equipment, buy the transport chair and let the insurance company pay for the more expensive piece of equipment.
Summary and Recommendation
Transport wheelchairs have a definite place and use for those needing help with their mobility. The best use for them is for short-term transportation and mobility needs. For example, someone recovering from a stroke who will regain their ability to walk. They will only need the chair for a few weeks to get to the doctor or physical therapy or for short shopping trips. Once they begin walking again, they may no longer need the transport chair.
If you’d like to know more about how a transport chair compares to a regular wheelchair, this article has more info. Another neat idea to consider is a combination rollator transport chair. Click here to read more about these helpful mobility aids.
Have you ever used a transport chair? If so, how did you use it? What do you think the advantages and disadvantages are? Tell me in the comments below.
Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®
About This Site
Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS Founder / Editor
My name is Scott Grant and I work daily with seniors as a custom wheelchair specialist at a home medical equipment company. I see these people struggle as they lose their independence. I watch their families try to help them but most don't even know where to start. Few are even aware of their options. I'm here to help!
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