In this article we review the best wheelchair seat belts to augment your safety. If you are in a hurry, below is a quick snapshot of the top wheelchair seat belts that we have selected.
Your wheelchair will mostly come with a basic seat belt if you are buying a power wheelchair. However if you are buying a manual wheelchair, chances are you will have to buy your seat belt separately.
Best Wheelchair Seat Belts – Overview
Wheelchair seat belts or safety belts are one of the most basic features of power or electric wheelchair and mostly all wheelchairs will have it. In fact, it is expressly mandated by the US FDA regulations and is part of the minimum safety standards that wheelchair manufacturers have to adhere to in order to sell their power mobility devices in the USA.
Having said that, you should also keep a close eye for the safety details, including the presence of a seat belt, before buying a wheelchair, be it electric or manual. In case of manual or self-propelled wheelchairs, most wheelchairs do not come with pre-installed seat belts.
Depending on your condition you may or may not require a seat belt for your wheelchair. However, if you are regularly stepping out of your house (into even sparse traffic), it is always advisable to install a seat belt and use it.
If your condition is serious or you are experiencing bouts of convulsions, the basic wheelchair belt may not be sufficient to keep you safely on your wheelchair. In this case, you will be well advised to buy a second much stronger seat belt for more safety. Like all cases, it is best to discuss this with your medical practitioner.
Why You Should Always Put on a Seat Belt on a Wheelchair
- A good seat belt on your wheelchair will reduce the intensity of impact in the unlikely event of an accident. It will greatly reduce the probability of injury due to secondary impacts, by keeping the user in place in the wheelchair.
- Depending upon the condition of the user, the wheelchair safety belt can help the user stay on the seat and not slide down. For example for patients with partial paralysis or loss of muscle function, users may often slide down the seat of the wheelchair if not using a seat belt or a harness.
What You Should Consider When Buying a Wheelchair Seat Belt
A wheelchair seat belt is meant to hold you in place in your wheelchair and therefore, should be firm without being uncomfortable to keep it strapped on. The type of wheelchair seat belt or safety harness that you would buy will depend a lot on your type and extent of the condition.
You should ideally vet and balance out all the factors below before you make a decision. The factors that you must keep in mind while buying a seat belt for your wheelchair are the following:
- Ease of using the clasp: The safety harness should have a clasp to lock after strapping on. The metal clasp should be extremely easy to lock and unlock, but at the same time, it should firmly lock the clasp.
- Adjusting the length of the belt: You should always buy a safety harness whose length you can adjust using buckles or sliders.
- Cushioning on the belt: Wheelchair seat belts are often tightly clasped on you. Therefore, it is best if it provides some cushioning on the areas where it is touching the body. Otherwise, it may become uncomfortable for you to keep the belt on for a longer duration.
- Belt Layout: You will find wheelchair seat belts that can be strapped horizontally across your body and those that can be strapped on both horizontally and vertically to prevent you from slipping from your seat (more like harnesses on toddler seats). You should buy the one that is most suitable for your condition.
- Material of belt: The belt material should not be rough so that it causes abrasion. Good quality seat belts are often made of medical grade material
- Width of the belt: The wider the belt (obviously within a limit), the more comfortable you will be wearing it and the weight will be distributed across a larger surface. In the unlikely event of a mishap, a wider safety harness is far more effective than a basic narrow one.
- Weight of the Belt: While the belt has to be durable, you will get maximum safety and comfort out of it at the same time if it is lightweight.
Cost is generally not a consideration while buying a seat belt. You can get really good seat belts for under $25 and the utility of one far exceeds the cost. Now let us look at our selection of best wheelchair seat belts
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#1 Wheelchair Restraint Systems Seat Belt from L.E.D. STEP
It is a cross design T-shaped wheelchair belt that provides the ultimate safety when you are in your wheelchair. An essential feature of a wheelchair is safety, so if the wheelchair does not provide it already, you might need the seat belt to provide it externally. The wheelchair seat belt is designed for maximum support, balance, and stability.
The belt has a soft cushioning that does not cause any discomfort to you while it is on. The nylon fabric and mesh fibers are breathable and do not cause any harm or rashes on the skin of the patient. The quick-release buckle is such that the patient can put it on and release it at ease. The lock is secure and comfortable, just like any vehicle wheelchair.
Another good thing about this product is that it is machine washable. It is effective for use for all kinds of patients. The wheelchair seatbelt also comes with a 60- day warranty that tells you that you can get the wheelchair or any part of it replaced if there is some issue at any time within 60 days.
- The belt has a soft-cushioned finish that makes it comfortable for one and all.
- The quick-release buckle is easy to fasten and release for the patient. It does not require much pressure or effort.
- The cross-body design is capable of providing the maximum support to the patient and resist the fall of any kind.
- The polyester makes, and breathable mesh design ensures that you don’t feel there is anything strapped around you.
- There is hardly any trouble maintaining the wheelchair strap. It is machine washable too for the best comfort.
- If it is a slim patient, the strap will fit only loosely around their body, not providing enough support.
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#2 Drive Medical Wheelchair Seat Belt
This is a basic seat belt for your wheelchair with car type belt clasp-on mechanism. The total length of the belt is 48 inches and can be adjusted as per your needs.
Here we have a video that shows how to install wheelchair seat belt.
- Uses easy to clasp-on mechanism (like a car seat belt). Button on clasp makes it easy to remove the seat belt on your own
- Seat belt length is adjustable and may be adjusted as per user’s convenience
- Compatible with most wheelchairs; easy to attach to your wheelchair.
- Only prevents you from moving forward during impact. Cannot prevent you from sliding down your chair.
- No cushioning on seat belt; may become cause of discomfort during long period of use
#3 Wheelchair Seat Belt by Modudu
This seat belt is 6 inches wide at the waist and has a 21 inch long portion with blue reflective material for use in dark environments. The maximum length of the belt is 50 inches.
- Wide surface area of the belt increases comfort for user
- Length of the seat belt can be easily adjusted
- Contains long reflective stripe for easy spotting on dark roads
- Cushioning provided on the part that is likely to be in contact with you
- Easy to clasp-on mechanism
- Machine washable material
- Good value for money
- Not likely to be suitable for patients who are prone to sliding down the seat of the wheelchair
- Belt locks on the back of the wheelchair and it is not possible for the user to attach / detach the belt herself
- The weight of the belt may cause discomfort to some users after long duration use
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#4 DMI Wheelchair Seat Belt by DuroMed
This is a basic seat belt with total length of 48 inches and width of 1.75 inches. The belt can be installed by unscrewing existing screws from the back of your wheelchair and inserting the grommets of the belt and screwing back again. It uses car type clasp on mechanism.
- Made of strong and durable material
- Compatible with majority of the wheelchairs, both manual and powered
- Adjustable length with maximum length of 48 inches
- Not suitable if your are planning to use wheelchair for long duration
- No cushioning on the seat belt
- May not be very effective against sliding down the chair
#5 Healthline Wheelchair Seat Belt
This basic seat belt is made of polyester and can go as long as 48 inches. It uses car type clasp-on closing mechanism and the width of the strap is 1.5 inches.
- Can be easily assembled and attached to your wheelchair
- Works with most wheelchairs
- Cost effective solution
- Easy to use car-type metal buckle and clasp
- May not be effective for serious disability or patients with risk of convulsion
- Not wide enough to provide good support to entire body of users with muscular dysfunction
- No cushioning on the belt; may be uncomfortable for long use
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#6 Secure SBNA-1 Quick Release Wheelchair Seat Belt
This wheelchair seat belt has an adjustable length ranging from 42 inches to 62 inches and is suitable for larger users. The product is covered by a one year warranty. This belt has 3 mounting grommet holes that you can choose from according to the size of the user.
- Car-type button mechanism makes it easy to attach and detach
- Suitable for large users; most products have maximum belt lengths of 48 inches
- Easy to install and compatible with most wheelchairs
- One year warranty
- Not suitable for preventing users to slide down the wheelchair
- May not be comfortable during long duration use
#7 Wheelchair Seat Belt by H&S Systems
This multi-purpose wheelchair belt can be used as a restraint mechanism, to prevent sliding down as well as to prevent leaning forward. The belt is made of high quality polyester with breathable fabric which makes it comfortable to wear even for longer duration.
- Amply long reflective stripe on the waist makes it easy to spot wheelchair in low light environment
- Wide surface area of the belt allows for better comfort
- Cushioning across the waist area provides for more comfortable use
- Effective against sliding down the seat with chest to crotch design
- Adjustable straps allow for the exact seat belt length required
- Simple to install and compatible with most wheelchairs
- The belt clasps on the back of the wheelchair and it may be difficult for users with reduced mobility to attach / detach the belt themselves
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Best Wheelchair Seat Belts – Conclusion
If you are planning to be on your wheelchair for a long time (anything more than 3 – 4 hours) every day, I would recommend you spend a bit more to get a wider seat belt with cushioning for added comfort. You may, however, avoid the T-type harness systems until and unless your condition calls for one. Finally, whichever seat belt you select, never forget to clasp it on while being on the wheelchair, for your safety and peace of mind.