In this article, we look at the best reclining wheelchairs with headrests. We have detailed user reviews based on our observations, interactions with real users and a detailed study of customer feedback and user manuals. The table below captures the top ones for a quick reference.
Sitting long hours in a wheelchair can literally be a pain in the neck. But if you have limited mobility, your wheelchair can be your key to the outdoors.
So it makes sense to choose a wheelchair that can keep you most comfortable. And one important factor when it comes to comfort in wheelchairs is its ability to recline and the presence of a headrest. A wheelchair headrest allows you to lean back your head and give your tired neck muscles a bit of rest. If the wheelchair reclines, a header rest allows you to catch a quick nap.
Why Choose a Reclining Wheelchair with Headrest?
A reclining wheelchair gives the user the option to change position and posture. It comes especially handy if you are using a wheelchair for long periods of time. You can always lean back and rest for a while by reclining the back.
Depending on the angle of recline, it helps you to redistribute your weight from a posture that puts all the weight on your bottom to a posture that distributes a part of your body weight on your back. Reclining wheelchairs make lives easier for people suffering from pressure ulcers or those with sensitive skin.
While you are using your wheelchair for short periods of time, you may not feel the need for a headrest. However, the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders can get stiff from long periods of sitting in an upright position without support.
Also, if you are reclining your wheelchair beyond a certain angle, you will definitely need a headrest, which is why most wheelchairs with recline facility will also have a headrest. Imagine yourself on a beach, reclined at a wide-angle on your chair, placing your head on the headrest, under an umbrella. The life that is awaiting you!
You can either choose to buy a wheelchair that comes with a headrest or you can buy one separately and fix it later.
Fixing a Separate Headrest on your Wheelchair
In case your wheelchair does not have a headrest, you can buy one separately and fix on the pushing handlebars of the chair. It has to be screwed onto the handlebars.
Some headrests can be adjusted in height as well as depth as to how far your head will fall back once you rest on the headrest. While buying the headrest you have to take into account the width of your seat and buy accordingly. Wheelchair headrests come in small, medium and large sizes to meet wheelchair seat sizes.
Also, you must ensure to firmly lock the backrest of your wheelchair in place after inclining it, to avoid any surprises. Otherwise, on rough terrains it may gradually go down causing discomfort.
Reviews of the Best Reclining Wheelchairs with Headrest
Here are the detailed reviews of reclining wheelchairs with headrest.
#1 – Drive Medical Full Reclining Wheelchair Viper Plus GT
This reclining wheelchair with a headrest weighs under 49 pounds. It has a seating weight capacity of 300 lbs. The product also has hand brakes for attendants, which is a very nice safety feature.
The backrest has adjustable height feature. Which means that this wheelchair can be potentially used by more than one person in the same household. The back height is adjustable from 17 inches to 19 inches at 1 inch interval. The seat depth can be adjusted up to 2 inches. This is a very useful feature for taller users of this wheelchair.
This is a full reclining self propelled wheelchair and it is on the higher end in terms of price.
- Taller users can extend the seat depth by 2 inches to get a better fit on the wheelchair. Alternatively, if you do not need extension you can still use the extra depth for some extra cushioning
- The arm rests can be flipped back for easier access to the seat
- Durable upholstery and wheelchair material
- Hand brake gives greater control to care giver or attendant
- The 17 inch seat model has total width of 24 inches, which makes it a good candidate to go through standard doors
- Wheel locks are conveniently located, so that you may reach them easily from your seat
- Height adjustable feature of back rest is beneficial if the wheelchair is being used by two people in the same household.
- Seat cushioning could have been thicker for greater comfort. You may want to add separate cushioning
- Foot rests are not fully adjustable, may cause discomfort at some degrees of incline
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#2 – Drive Medical Silver Sport Reclining Wheelchair
This is a fully reclining wheelchair weighing 64 pounds. It can carry a weight of up to 350 pounds. The device has a headrest with head immobilizer. This is quite helpful in holding your head in position if you fall asleep on the wheelchair. It comes with calf padding and detachable foot rests and had brakes for care givers.
It comes in different seat width options, giving heavier users an option to use this wheelchair. The hand brakes on the back is a very good safety feature for an attendant.
On the downside, the headrest and the seat overall do not come with a lot of padding. This means that it may not be as comfortable as some of its peers. To overcome this, you might want to add your own cushion.
- Durable and sturdy design
- Hydraulic mechanism for incline allows for adjusting options at any angle till 180 degrees or sleeping position
- Detachable headrest offers better customization
- Arms can be extended for inclined positions at larger recline angles
- Rear anti-tippers add to safety features and prevent chair from tipping over backwards
- Available seat widths of 16 or 18 or 20 inches takes care of a wide range of user body sizes
- Hand brakes on the back of the pushing rail gives greater control to attendant
- The 20 inch seat version has total width of 29 inches, which may cause your knuckles to be bruised against doorways or passageways if you are not careful
- The headrest does not have much cushion and may uncomfortable
- Lack of cushioning on the seat. You may want to add your own cushions
#3 – Compass Health ProBasics Reclining Wheelchair
This reclining wheelchair with headrest comes assembled and can be reclined at any angle from 90 to 160 degrees. While not fully flat, this does give the user a wide range of reclining angle.
This wheelchair comes in four different seat sizes from 16 inches to 22 inches. The largest model is capable of carrying a maximum weight of 300 pounds. Thus it is definitely an option for bigger users
The wheelchair is equipped with hand brakes for the care giver and adjustable leg and foot rests. The adjustable recline and leg rests together allow for a wide range of body postures, which you may require if you are using you chair for a long period. This also helps reduce number of transfers per day and user can sleep on the chair itself
Weighing in at just under 60 pounds, this wheelchair is a bit on the heavier side and can be a little unwieldy for some of its users. The headrest is not very comfortable and you may find it too bulky leading to sub-optimal body posture. However, the headrest is detachable.
- The hand brakes make it easier for the care giver to control the chair
- Available in 4 sizes of 16, 18, 20, 22 inches
- Uncomfortable headrest
- Slightly heavier and unwieldy wheelchair
- Lack of cushioning on the seat may make it uncomfortable during long periods of use
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#4 – Invacare Tracer SX5 Recliner Wheelchair
This reclining wheelchair with headrest can fully recline from 90 to 180 degrees. This can give its user a flat surface to even sleep on.
The wheelchair weighs about 70 pounds, thus it is on the heavier side of our list here. It can carry up to maximum weight of 300 pounds. The seat height of the chair can be adjusted from 17.5 inches to 19.5 inches, depending on your height.
While not the widest on the list, this wheelchair is slightly on the wider side with the 18 inch seat option measuring about 26.5 inches from side to side. Thus, you might want to be aware of the narrowest point where you need to fit this wheelchair in your day to day use.
- Seat height adjustment option along with backrest incline option gives a lot of flexibility and can be customized as per your height
- Anti-tippers on the back wheels help to maintain balance and prevents chair from tipping over backwards
- Available till seating width of 22 inches
- Detachable headrest cushion offers greater flexibility
- Good customer service
- Seat depth cannot be adjusted and at 16 inches, you may find the chair a bit smaller for your height, if you are taller than six feet
- Does not have a seat belt. You have to buy one separately and install
- Models with larger seating width may find it difficult to pass through standard doorways
#5 – Karman Healthcare VIP-515-TP-18
This is more of a tilting than a reclining wheelchair. The Karman Healthcare VIP-515-TP-18 has an ergonomic design for better seating comfort. It has a weigh capacity of 250 pounds.
It is an extremely light wheelchair for its functionality. The frame is made up of aircraft grade aluminium and the total weight is only 38 pounds. The tilt design helps reduce pressure sores. The specialized, anti microbial cushion covering and upholstery helps stop odors, bacterial and fungal growth.
On the downside, it is pricey as compared to its peers.
- Ergonomic design gives better seating comfort
- Tilt functionality great for preventing pressure sores and other skin problems
- Good cushioning on the backrest and seat as well as head rest
- Adjustable leg rests along with adjustable recliner offers a full range of body posture
- Good ground clearance with larger wheels
- Pricier than other wheelchairs in this category
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Our Verdict on Best Reclining Wheelchairs with Headrest
Our personal favorite, when it comes to the best wheelchairs with headrest is the Drive Medical Silver Sport Reclining Wheelchair. It can be fully flat, has the highest weight capacity and is decently priced.
Finally, all the above wheelchairs are FDA cleared. However, your peace of mind is very important after buying a device. You will always do well to focus on safety features, standards of manufacturing and the customer service and support network of the product, while making a buying decision.
If you are looking for more information on wheelchairs, you can read our detailed guide on manual transport wheelchairs for indoor use and power wheelchairs for the outdoors.