Wheelchairs come in many different types and their cost varies according to the type of wheelchair. Transport wheelchairs are basic manual wheelchairs and they start at around $80. These wheelchairs need an attendant to push the patient around. They are best suited for inside buildings like hospitals and nursing homes.
Pediatric wheelchairs designed for children start at $300. But they can quickly go up in price depending upon the features needed.
Lastly, sports wheelchairs can be the most expensive. While they start around $1,500, they go up in price very quickly.
In this article, we cover the different kinds of wheelchairs and the range of their costs.
What is the cost of a wheelchair?
When someone loses their ability to get around on their own, it may not be an exciting thought to get a wheelchair. One may think it will limit one’s abilities and hinder one from participating in life the way one had been used to.
But once you start seeing the wheelchair as your doorway to be out and about, it will become a liberating part of your life, rather than a limiting one. And with the advancement of technology, wheelchair accessories like portable wheelchair ramps and wheelchair friendly rugs make overall life a lot more easy for a wheelchair user.
Once the wheelchair user comes to terms with the idea of using the chair, the next issue to deal with is usually the price of one of these investments. While they can cost a tidy chunk, it is possible to get a wheelchair for free or at a highly subsidized rate through various government and private aid programs.
What affects a wheelchair’s cost?
Prices of different wheelchairs vary – sometimes greatly – based upon the features, material, add-ons, and purpose. While it is possible to find a cheap wheelchair, that may only be possible when buying secondhand or from an untrustworthy source. For best results, it’s important to purchase a wheelchair from a reliable source with good reviews, ratings, and products.
Wheelchairs are available in a variety of different categories designed to fit any need and most budgets. Let’s explore the broadest categories of wheelchairs:
A transport wheelchair is meant to be pushed by a companion rather than by the user. A transport wheelchair is fold-able so that it can be utilized when transporting the user from one place to another. It has smaller than average wheels and is generally lighter as compared to self-propelled or battery powered wheelchairs. These kinds of chairs are great for patients post-op, for short trips to the doctor, or for anyone who has trouble moving themselves around in a wheelchair.
When choosing a transport wheelchair, it is important to look for the size of wheels and overall weight. For both aspects it usually goes that the smaller the number, the better. It is also important to pay attention to seat size, so the wheelchair user can sit comfortably.
Transport Wheelchair Features
Often referred to as a “transfer chair,” transport wheelchairs have a few key features that distinguish them as great for transportation. It has smaller wheels with a body construction that makes it bendable and fold-able with ease. This is at the expense of self-propulsion, of course, but then transport wheelchairs are designed to be pushed by a caregiver.
They are very light – some weigh as little as a mere 14 pounds! It’s also an affordable option if the chair is only needed for short trips to make transportation easier on everyone.
How much does a Transport Wheelchair cost?
Transport wheelchairs cost much less than some of the other options on this list because it is one of the simplest wheelchairs available.
Purchasing a transport wheelchair from a good retailer will run you anywhere from $90-$2,000 per chair. On the lower end of the spectrum, you could get a basic transport wheelchair which is essentially an armchair with wheels. This version is extremely basic. It includes footrests, armrests, the actual upholstered chair, and handles for a caregiver to push. Because this kind of wheelchair is devoid of all extra features, the price is low. If a wheelchair is needed to meet the bare minimum of transport needs, this could be a viable option.
On the other end of the spectrum, a top of the line transport wheelchair could cost $2,000. A transport chair that costs this much will come with the best features possible, including high-grade materials, top comfort of the chair, maneuverability, and ease of use. Checkout our review of the best lightweight transport wheelchairs for more information.
A manual wheelchair requires the user to move themselves about without help from a companion or from a battery-operated device. Manual wheelchairs can sometimes have handles on the back for someone else to push if necessary, so it’s a good idea to look for that feature if the user might need someone to push. Otherwise, they are self-propelled devices usually powered by the use of the arms to spin the wheels of the chair.
Within the category of manual wheelchairs, there are several subcategories. Transport wheelchairs are often put into this category, but for the sake of clarity, we’ve decided to categorize them on their own. Under manual wheelchairs, there are options of lightweight, folding lightweight, standard weight, heavy duty, rapid ultra lightweight, reclining wheelchairs with headrest, narrow width wheelchairs and many more.
Manual Wheelchair Features
Manual wheelchairs are thought of as the “traditional” wheelchair. This means they are all propelled by the manual movement of one’s arms on the wheels of the chair to get from one place to another. If the user does not have full mobility and access to the range of function in the arms and hands, this may not be the best option as a manual wheelchair does require frequent and often exhaustive pushing with the arms.
Manual wheelchairs vary widely, and the main component that distinguishes it as a category is the manual push nature. Beyond that, they can be extremely different to meet an array of needs. For example, a folding lightweight manual wheelchair is available for those that may need to travel often but don’t want to rely on a caregiver to push them around. For others, a heavy duty manual wheelchair may be a better option.
What Does A Manual Wheelchair Cost?
A manual wheelchair cost will still be on the lower end of the price range as long as it doesn’t come with any fancy features. Within manual wheelchairs, there are a few different kinds.
A standard wheelchair cost will be an average of $250. These wheelchairs are the standard weight, which is where they get their name. They are made to last longer and do more than transport wheelchairs but are by no means heavy-duty or specialty.
Another kind of manual wheelchair is the folding lightweight chair. A folding lightweight wheelchair cost is about $500, within a range of $200-3000. These chairs are a bit pricier because of their high portability, which makes things like frequent traveling a breeze. The portability comes from their extremely lightweight building materials that are costlier than the standard kind.
Lastly, there are also heavy duty manual wheelchairs. These are made for heavier or larger people who find a bit more space and support more comfortable. A heavy-duty wheelchair cost is higher than standard weight chairs but usually a bit less than ultra lightweight ones. A heavy-duty chair will cost about $400 for a decent one but could be more than $3000 if you’re looking for extra features. A wheelchair which is this costly will have some fancy features which are full portability, self-propel mechanism, and solid support.
Power wheelchairs, also commonly referred to as electric wheelchairs, power chairs, power scooters, or electric scooters, are a battery-powered wheelchair that allow them to be used by the push of a button or by controlling a small joystick. These wheelchairs are great for those without full mobility in their limbs or those who don’t want to have to rely on the strength of their arms to get them around. There are regular weight power wheelchairs as well as heavy duty ones.
Power wheelchairs take some initial getting used to, when it comes to navigating them. But, with practice, they are an extremely convenient device as far as mobility is concerned. It is important to note that power chairs might not be the best option for a first-time wheelchair user.
The video below shows how to use a power wheelchair.
Power Wheelchair Features
Power wheelchairs are the result of our modern technology. No longer do users have to rely on the sole strength and energy of their limbs to get around. The manual wheelchair opened up a whole new world; now with the touch of a button or the movement of a joystick, someone who is challenged with mobility can maneuver around with ease.
Important features of power wheelchairs include the comfort of the armrests, the type of power used (lithium ion battery or electric powered), turn radius, and the available stand-up option that some may offer.
How much does a Power Wheelchair cost?
Electric wheelchairs, with all their ease of function and high-level power options, are understandably much pricier than their manual counterparts. A quality electric wheelchair will cost anywhere from $1500-$9000, depending on their features. The more advanced they are the higher the price will be.
The main two features that affect electric wheelchair costs are power options and drive controls. Most power wheelchairs run on a battery that can either be charged or replaced. Longer lasting options will cost more upfront but will survive for more years in the long run. As far as drive controls go, there are joysticks, finger control, button control, lap control, head control, touchpad control, mouth control, or proximity switch control.
Joystick and finger control/button control are the standard options and thus the most affordable. The more advanced a drive control option, the higher the price of the wheelchair will be.
Pediatric wheelchairs are especially designed for young children. Children have different needs as compared to adults, and so do their wheelchairs! Pediatric wheelchairs are often designed in to be more colorful and sleek so as to appear attractive to young ones.
It is never fun when a child has to spend time in a wheelchair, but it becomes much more appealing when the chair looks cool to them. Typically, they are designed to be functional and lightweight, so they can be used to transport children and maneuver through different spaces.
A great feature to look for in pediatric wheelchairs is their adjustability. Since kids grow at such a rapid pace, a pediatric wheelchair with chair depth versatility, leg rests that elevate, and seat adjustments help increase the lifespan of the wheelchair so it can, in a sense, grow with the child!
Pediatric Wheel Chair Features
Pediatric wheelchairs don’t differ all that much in features as compared to adult manual or power wheelchairs. They may have a more colorful design or be made to be aesthetically pleasing to children, but the standard features apply here as well.
What Does A Pediatric Wheelchair Cost?
The range of pediatric wheelchair cost is anywhere from $300-$3000. Because they are designed to grow with the child, they have adjustable features that cost more than the average adult wheelchair. They are also lightweight, which ups the cost. It’s still possible to secure a pediatric wheelchair for $300 or less, but it might require compromise on certain features.
Sports wheelchairs take mobility to the next level. Sports wheelchairs allow the physically impaired to participate in sports that require certain speed, agility, and mobility. These chairs usually do not fold in order to increase stability. They are often made differently for each sport to accommodate certain demands from the game.
These kinds of chairs are not great for everyday use and are usually the secondary chair for someone who uses them only for a particular sport. They are nimble and provide great control for turning, stopping, speeding up, and tricky maneuvers.
Sports Wheelchair Features
Sports wheelchairs are loaded with features that help the user continue living an active lifestyle. Often, they feature a frame of super lightweight metal that allows for speed and agility. A negative camber can help with turn radius.
Within the broad category of sports wheelchairs, there are wheelchairs made for tennis courts, bicycling (called handcycles, powered by the hands), beach wheelchairs, and all terrain wheelchairs. Be sure to check out the features needed for the sport at hand.
How does a Sports Wheelchair cost?
Sports wheelchairs are another of the most expensive options due to the extensive range of additional features. As discussed prior, sports wheelchairs are made of the best and lightest materials with special components designed specifically to aid in agility, speed, turns, stops, and other active maneuvers required for athletics. Sports wheelchair cost ranges from $1500-$4000.
You can buy a whole lot of accessories with your wheelchair, be it a power wheelchair or a manual one. These accessories help you get the most out of your wheelchair. For example, wheelchair arm rest covers provide additional padding for your arms. Or you can get electric wheelchair seat covers for greater comfort and insulation. Talking about insulation, you might want to invest in a good pair of gloves for wheelchair users, especially if you live in colder parts of the world.
Among safety accessories, manual wheelchair users should look at the option of buying themselves wheelchair seat belts. Most manual wheelchair users will do well with some extra storage on their wheelchair. You can consider getting a storage bag for your wheelchair.
For electric wheelchair users, the battery that their wheelchair comes with might have a limited range. You may consider buying an electric wheelchair battery with longer range than your current battery. It will be a good investment especially if your current battery is nearing the end of its useful life.
Now that you have an idea what the different types of wheelchairs cost, here is a great YouTube video that helps you choose the right kind of wheelchair:
No matter what need leads you to purchasing a wheelchair, they can help transform a life from one that was once stagnant to a new one that is mobile.