We will discuss how a wheelchair may help a quadriplegic patient and the 8 best manual wheelchairs for quadriplegics across categories and price ranges. If you are in a hurry, the table below gives a quick snapshot of the top 6.
Quadriplegia is a condition in which a person has limited or no use of both their arms and legs due to illness or injury to the cervical area of the spine. Depending on the severity of the illness, the patient may be able to utilize their hands and arms partially, or not at all.
A wheelchair is an important medical device to help quadriplegic patients remain as independent and mobile as possible. If you are using a wheelchair, do not think that you’re confined to it. It is actually liberating to be able to get around in a wheelchair as quickly as anyone else can by walking.
By the way, we also wrote article about different jobs that quadriplegics can take up.
When to Choose a Manual Wheelchair for Quadriplegics
There are many different kinds and styles of wheelchairs available with specific features for patients suffering from quadriplegia. The kind of wheelchair that should be chosen is dependent on how severe the condition is and how much strength you have in your upper limbs.
Manual wheelchairs are self-propelled and power or electric wheelchairs get their propulsion from electric motors. You should choose a manual chair when your upper body and limbs have enough strength to maneuver it. Or if you have a companion or caregiver to push you around. Otherwise, a power wheelchair is a better option for maintaining your independence without depending on an attendant.
If you are able to push a manual wheelchair with your arms, the resulting exercises can benefit you immensely. Even if you may not have the arm strength or not be able to stand properly, you can probably still use your lower legs and feet to maneuver the wheelchair in your home.
In recent years, manufacturers have added suspension systems as an option, which makes the wheelchair ride considerably smoother. The trade-off in ride quality is with higher weight and price. Another key innovation is the use of super-light titanium in the frame of the chair. Propelling a lightweight wheelchair is much easier on your upper body.
The video below shows how to use a manual wheelchair.
Manual Wheelchairs for Quadriplegics
Without further ado, let us look at the best options when it comes to manual wheelchairs for quadriplegics.
#1. Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair
This is the lightest manual wheelchair available in the market at 19.8 lbs, making it attractive for quadriplegic patients. Its ergonomic design and long-lasting frame maximizes comfort and convenience for the user.
- As the lightest manual wheelchair, this is extremely easy to use, store, and transport.
- The wheelchair’s frame has a patented ergonomic S-shape design that releases tension from key areas of the user’s body affected by prolonged sitting.
- The chair has strong rear wheels with fixed axels and companion brakes, allowing caregivers to access the brakes very easily.
- The chair has footrests and heel loops to keep the user secure and those can be detached as required.
- The chair has a weight capacity of only 220 lbs, making it unsuitable for overweight and obese users.
- Though it is extremely lightweight, it comes at a high price tag that is significantly higher than all the other options we’ve reviewed.
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#2 Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
This is a low-maintenance wheelchair that helps the user move around on their own, thanks to the large drive wheels. On the other hand, the larger wheels also require less effort from caregivers to push the chair around. Due to its lightweight design, it is quite suitable for quadriplegic patients.
- This wheelchair is easy to store and transport because of its design.
- The chair has calf straps and a push-to-lock mechanism in its tires that provide added security to users.
- It has detachable desk arms and premium swing-away leg rests, providing customizable support.
- The sleek blue-powdered frame of the wheelchair is made with durable steel to resist cracks and chipping.
- The front wheels of the chair are slightly smaller in size than traditional ones and they may slip into cracks on the pavement.
- The tools for adjusting the pedals are not very easy to use and they require significant strength.
#3 Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
This is a lightweight transport wheelchair with powder coated aluminium ultralight frame and large rear wheels for better performance on uneven terrains.
Its comfortable design and safety features make this an attractive option among manual wheelchairs for quadriplegic patients. It can only be used with a companion or caregiver as the chair does not have any drive wheels.
- This wheelchair is easily foldable, making it suitable for easy storage, transport, and travel. Additionally, the back of the chair folds down to make the chair more compact.
- It has full length permanent armrests, detachable footrests, a wheelchair seat belt for safety, and comfortable nylon upholstery.
- The aluminium frame is extremely durable and a weight capacity of 300 lbs, making it convenient for use to a wide range of users.
- The loop-style manual handbrakes of the wheelchair are ideal for locking the rear wheels during transfers.
- Since this chair does not have a driving wheel, you will have to depend completely on a caregiver to push you around in this chair, even if you’re capable of driving yourself.
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#4 Drive Medical Silver Sport 1 Wheelchair
With its powder-coated silver vein steel frame with nylon upholstery, Drive Medical’s Silver Sport 1 is one of the best manual wheelchair options available.
It comes with big drive wheels, hence, it is suitable for those quadriplegic patients who have enough strength in their upper limbs to push the chair around. Additionally, it can always be driven by a caregiver using the dual handles at the back.
- The steel frame and nylon upholstery of the chair is durable, lightweight, attractive, and easy to clean.
- It has padded arms that make the chair comfortable and there is a carry pocket on backrest, which provides additional convenience.
- The chair has Urethane tires mounted on composite wheels that are durable and require low maintenance. It is also equipped with push-to-lock wheel locks.
- With its full arms and swing away removable footrest, the wheelchair has great design, safety features, and provides excellent value for money.
- It has an unbeatable low price, making it the most attractive option among foldable manual wheelchairs.
- With a relatively slim width of 18 inches, the chair could become a bit uncomfortable for obese users.
#5 Carex Folding Wheelchair
Carex Folding Wheelchair has a sturdy steel frame that folds easily and is portable for travel, shopping, or everyday life; making it a very good choice for a quadriplegic patient. Since the chair does not have any drive wheels, it can only be used with a companion or caregiver.
- The sturdy steel frame of this chair provides full support during everyday transport and also folds easily for compact storage and transfer.
- With a 19 inch seat, this transport wheelchair provides a comfortable drive. The secure belt keeps the user safe and keep them from falling out of wheelchair.
- The chair is easy to assemble with only the wheels and the footrests needed to be connected to the chair. No separate tools are required for the assembly.
- The chair has a low price and, hence, provides an excellent value for money.
- With a 23 inch outer width, using this wheelchair will pose a challenge in tight indoor spaces, especially navigating the narrow doorways.
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#6 NOVA Bariatric Transport
This wheelchair is specifically designed for overweight or obese users and yet the chair is light enough to be suitable for quadriplegic users. It is a versatile wheelchair designed for all terrains, thanks to its locking hand brakes and 12” rear wheels. In absence of driving wheels, it can only be used with a companion.
- This wheelchair has by far the highest weight capacity among all the options reviewed, and suitable for a wide range of users.
- The company’s patented locking hand brakes allow the caregiver to control the speed and park the brakes, making the wheelchair a very safe option.
- The chair’s removable padded desk arms make transferring the user from a car, bed, or chair quite easy.
- Its footrests are easy to remove and easy to adjust, as well as are equipped with heel loops, so the user can rest their feet comfortably.
- This chair is one of the most expensive manual wheelchair models that we have reviewed.
- The seat is at a comparatively lower height than the other similar wheelchairs.
#7 ECTR04 Folding Travel Wheelchair
The folding capability of this lightweight manual wheelchair is one of the best in its category, making it extremely easy to transport from one place to another. Also, the big rear wheels and attendant handbrakes make it a very safe choice for users who are quadriplegic. With no drive wheels available, this chair is again one that can be operated only by a caregiver.
- This wheelchair folds to about 1/3 the size of typical folded manual wheelchairs. With a lightweight travel bag included for the chair, it’s a great option for transport.
- With its 12 inch solid rear tyres and 8 inch solid front tyres, this sturdy wheelchair can manoeuvre most of the difficult terrains.
- It has padded desk arms and multiple cross braces for added strength to make it sturdier for the user.
- The chair has foot supports that are easy to attach and provides comfort to the user.
- The price tag of this chair is higher than most of the manual chairs in its category, making it one of the costliest manual options.
- It does not have any driving wheel, making the user fully dependent on an attendant or caregiver.
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#8 Invacare Tracer EX2 Wheelchair
This is a heavy-duty wheelchair that offers additional protection to the chair and lasts longer than other traditional models. With its ergonomic footrests and design, this chair works well for quadriplegic patients. With its drive wheels, users can drive this chair themselves in addition to caregivers pushing it around.
- With a durable carbon steel frame, a seat and back with heavy-duty inner liner, and strong rear tires mounted on “no flex” wheels, this wheelchair is expected to last long.
- It contains ergonomic footrests, removable arms with padding, and soft vinyl upholstery that is easy to clean.
- The footrests can swing away completely so that the wheelchair can fit comfortably under tables.
- On uneven terrain, the caregiver has to push the handles to raise the chair and be able to maneuver it.
- This chair is comparatively heavier than some of the other models.
For a quadriplegic patient, getting a wheelchair is a major life-altering decision. The psychological aspect of this decision is immense and should only be taken after at-length consultation with your doctor and other caregivers. While choosing a manual wheelchair, you also have another key decision where you need to balance your budget, need, and availability of an attendant or companion.
We hope you found this article useful. If you are looking for more wheelchair options, please read our review of the best electric wheelchair attachment motor/bike. We also cover manual wheelchairs for indoor use.
If mobility scooters are your thing you can have a look at our article about mobility scooters for the outdoors.