The Different Types of Wheelchairs

The wheelchair industry has expanded tremendously throughout the years and different wheelchairs have been introduced to satisfy the clients’ varying needs. When it comes to the point of choosing a wheelchair it might seem a little overwhelming, especially if you are unsure which one best suits your needs and there are lots to choose from.

Why are there a variety of types? Simply because of the wide range of needs people who use them can have. For example, some wheelchairs are for short-term use (injury) and others are for long-term use (permanent disability).

To make selecting a wheelchair smoother, we have taken the time at Direct Mobility to give you the reader an overview of the different types of wheelchairs there are.

It’s essential to understand the different categories and subcategories each wheelchair falls into.

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are designed to be pushed from behind or by the user physically wheeling themselves. This type of wheelchair is easy to push thanks to its ultra-lightweight materials and simple designs – no requirement for a bulky battery or motor.

It’s also a lower cost in comparison to electric ones.

More info – several powered-assist devices can fit onto a manual wheelchair which gives you the best of both worlds.

Transit Wheelchairs

Transit wheelchairs are specially designed for travel over short distances, like from room to room in a care environment or hospital. They are pushed by someone else and have features such as brakes and leg brace built-in. There are no manual propulsion options for the users.

Self-Propelled Wheelchairs

Self-propelled wheelchairs are designed for the user to propel themselves. This is usually achieved through the use of the rear wheel handles, that spin and move along the ground. These lightweight wheelchairs require a certain level of strength to operate.

Active-User Wheelchairs

You might have heard them being called sports wheelchairs, these user-operated chairs are ultra-lightweight and enables the user to travel at speed. People who play and enjoy sports use these.

Passive Wheelchairs

Passive wheelchairs are used to cater for severe or changing mobility needs. This type of wheelchair is an ideal option if mobility and comfort needs change day to day as they can be set to the perfect configuration. They are not self-propelled.

Electric Wheelchairs

Electric wheelchairs move by a motor, usually by a hand-operated controller. This type of wheelchair is more heavy-duty and a great option for people who are unable to push themselves or have nobody to push.

This type of wheelchair is designed for independence and worry-free travel but it also has a manual push option too. A more expensive choice too.


The transportable wheelchair is known as a travel or folding chair, designed to take in a car, train, plane, boat or other vehicles. Fitted with the typical electric motor-propelled functionality but with the convenience of collapsing the chair in a small space.

Indoor Only

Indoor-only motor-propelled chairs are simple to use and are good for people who do not wish to spend much on an electric wheelchair.

Indoor & Outdoor

If you are looking for a wheelchair that can be used in a range of areas, this type of chair is a great choice. Perfect for outdoor environments such as a paved street, open-air shopping centre, park or similar spaces. There is enough power within and it’s fitted with durable wheels.

Outdoor Only

This type of chair is meant primarily for use on streets, grass, earth or any other uneven surfaces. They are fitted with a larger motor to navigate the terrain, as well as more rugged wheels and a longer-lasting battery.

Take a trip down to Direct Mobility where you can meet with our friendly staff and try out all the different wheelchair options. We are happy to help with any questions you may have too.

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