New to Wheelchairs? Here’s What to Expect

Are you new to the world of wheelchairs or just don’t know where to start when purchasing one? Look no further. Although wheelchairs are a need for many reasons (illness, injury, or disability), this does not imply that they have to be uncomfortable or unattractive. Today, the market is flooded with various alternatives for wheelchair users who want to live their lives to the fullest, ranging from foldable to ergonomic chairs and everything in between.

For a novice wheelchair user like yourself, it’s essential to understand that buying a wheelchair is more complicated than just “buying a wheelchair.” Since they come in various forms and sizes and may accommodate almost every body type, choosing one that completely suits your needs may be similar to climbing a mountain barefoot. This guide will discuss everything you should expect at the beginning of your wheelchair journey.

Key Takeaway

  • Wheelchairs are a need for many reasons (illness, injury, or disability).
  • The first-ever wheelchair was made in 1519 for King Phillip II of Spain.
  • The most commonly used are manual, transport, and power wheelchairs.
  • Before investing in a wheelchair, pay attention to your surroundings – are things wheelchair accessible?
  • Begin weight training to easily roll the wheelchair tires manually.
  • Pay attention to wheelchair seating, warranties, and financing options.

What Is a Wheelchair?

As the name suggests, a wheelchair is a chair with wheels. In other words, it is a manually operated or power-driven device designed for individuals with mobility issues due to injury, illness, or disability. While the earliest wheelchairs had to be pushed by another individual (more on that later!), today, you can easily move them, either manually (by pushing the wheels) or electrically.

Wheelchair Through Years – From Origin to Evolution

According to evidence found in art and literature, comparable devices were used during ancient times, particularly in early Greece and China. When it comes to the official beginning, it all started in 1519, when a wheelchair was made for King Phillip II of Spain, who suffered from gout and needed mobility assistance. This aid, however, wasn’t self-propelling and required an attendant.

The 1700’s

After a century had passed, the wheelchairs desperately needed an upgrade; thus, in 1783, John Dawson from Bath (a city in England) constructed a wheelchair and named it after his town. Two massive wheels were located in the Bath’s rear; however, the front wheel was much smaller. All of the Bath’s designs were extremely heavy, necessitating the employment of a donkey or horse to be pushed or dragged about. The design was so successful that over 40 years, Bath sold the most units.

The 1800’s

Fast forward to 1800, the Bath wheelchair needed improvements. Although it was popular among those who could buy it, the overall structure offered little to no comfort. Later, the Bath was constructed out of various materials to maximize comfort. Even better, Queen Victoria preferred it. However, in the 1860s, wheelchairs designs comparable to those used today became available.


The Early 1900’s

As time passed, wheelchairs gradually became lighter and easier to travel in. It was 1932 when Harry Jennings developed the first folding wheelchair model made of tubular steel. Harry developed this wheelchair for his disabled friend Herbert Everest, and the two friends later established Everest and Jennings, which became the mobility and adaptive equipment manufacturing powerhouse.

The Mid 1900’s

When it comes to the first electric or powered wheelchair, George Klein, born in Hamilton, Canada, is recognized for contributing to the design and invention. In the 1950s, motorized chairs were available for mass production for the first time, which made the life of wheelchair users even more accessible. The 1990s saw the beginning of widespread production and usage of sports wheelchairs, which provided its users with additional support and assistance in various sporting endeavors.

2022 and Beyond

Over the course of the previous few hundred years, the wheelchair industry has seen a variety of transformations, from the early wheelchairs, which needed attendants to move about, to the current wheelchairs, which allow for freedom of movement and mobility. Given the quick rate at which technological advancements are being made, who knows what the future holds?

What to Expect from New Wheelchairs

Types of Wheelchairs to Expect

From manually operated to power-driven, a wide variety of wheelchairs are available to pick from, and the right one will depend on your requirements. However, if you aren’t acquainted with the terminology and what each signifies, you may end up wasting money on the wrong wheelchair. The following section will help you narrow down your research and simplify the buying process.

What to Expect from New Wheelchairs

Transport vs. Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are intended for the individual seated in the chair to maneuver independently, while transport wheelchairs are made to be pushed by caretakers or companions. On the other hand, wheelchairs designed for transport often have four small wheels, whereas wheelchairs designed for manual use typically have two smaller wheels in front and two bigger wheels in the rear.

Power Wheelchairs

A power wheelchair, also known as a powerchair, electric wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, or electric-powered wheelchair (EPW), is a kind of wheelchair that moves forward with the assistance of an electric motor (often via the use of differential steering) rather than the user’s physical power. Individuals who cannot walk short distances or those with weaker upper extremities may use them.

New Wheelchair Users – Essential Aspects to Consider

If you were just recently put into a wheelchair, it’s possible that you don’t fully understand how to manage things quite yet. Firstly, remember that it is normal for you to feel uncertain about how to travel moving forward. After all, wheelchair accessibility is a new experience that requires time to get used to. Now that you know everything about the history and origin of wheelchairs, it’s time to gear towards the next part: the essential aspects of using a wheelchair.

Think About Your Surroundings

Before investing in a wheelchair, pay attention to your region’s surroundings, particularly meteorological conditions. For instance, if you are caught in a blizzard with your brand-new wheelchair, and it gets damaged, know that you will be responsible for the costs of having it repaired (the average cost of wheelchair repair is $100 to $200; however, it may vary). To begin, imagine driving a vehicle, truck, or SUV, and apply the same frame of mind to your new accessibility.

Get Stronger By Exercising

If you pursue the route of purchasing a manual wheelchair, know that you will need to provide your own propulsion by rolling the wheelchair tires with your hands and arms in order to move about. It may not be easy to complete this activity if you do not have strong upper body strength; therefore, going to the gym and focusing on strength training with a personal trainer may be essential.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking alcohol has been linked to weight gain, making it more challenging to move about using a wheelchair; thus, consider switching up the alcoholic drinks. It’s okay to have a beer or glass of wine every once in a while, but you shouldn’t just slouch in your chair and consume beverages nonstop. In 2016, around 38.9% of individuals with disabilities age 18 and older were obese; thus, you should do everything you can to prevent yourself from falling into that category.

Seating, Warranties, and Financing Options

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t purchase a product without first examining it and getting a feel for it, especially regarding something as important as medical equipment. At 1800Wheelchair, the comfort issue is by far the most frequent one we’ve encountered when dealing with wheelchairs over the years. If you shop with us, you’ll find various seating options among 1,200 products in 100 different categories. However, if you need enhanced comfort, consider wheelchair cushions.

What to Expect from New Wheelchairs

In addition to comfort, warranties and financing are the next top concern. Before making a purchase, you must investigate the manufacturer’s warranty and financing options. This applies to the warranty provided by the product manufacturer and affordable financing options by the seller. For example, 1800Wheelchair is a Bread® partner, which means you can pay for your purchase over time.

So there you have it: a beginner’s guide to a wheelchair. Entering the world of wheelchairs may be overwhelming; however, with all the essential aspects in place, you may lead a happy and healthy life moving forward. With time, you may understand that embracing life in a wheelchair is pretty straightforward – all it requires is maintaining a positive outlook to get the most out of your journey.

Where Can You Find Affordable Folding Wheelchairs

Used by millions of disabled individuals worldwide, the wheelchair is a piece of technology that we are all familiar with. However, one of the most significant drawbacks of a manual wheelchair is that it almost always requires the assistance of a second person to be pushed. Fortunately, this issue is far gone with the invention of the world’s first folding, portable wheelchair—designed by mechanical engineer Harry C. Jennings for his disabled friend Herbert Everest in 1933.

Best Affordable Folding Wheelchairs

When it comes to mobility, wheelchairs play a significant part in assisting impaired and disabled individuals in moving safely and conveniently from one place to another. Are you looking for the best folding wheelchair online? Search no further; we’ve already done the legwork for you. Below we’ll uncover some of the best yet affordable brands that sell folding wheelchairs in the United States.

WHILL – Travel With Style And Confidence

WHILL was established to develop a short-distance mobility platform. Providing quick access to an innovative and well-designed personal mobility solution when needed. WHILL presents a new method of short-distance travel and is the final means of transportation that no other mode can provide. With an emphasis on creative design and cutting-edge technology, WHILL’s goods allow you to freely express your self-assurance, sense of style, and independence.

WHILL Model Ci2 Power Chair

Pride Mobility – Unleash The Best

Pride Mobility Products Corporation is a leading designing and manufacturing company for mobility products, including some famous brands like Jazzy and Power Chairs. Pride is committed to delivering professionally designed, manufactured, and tested products with technologically advanced features that enable users to accomplish their highest quality of life and mobility objectives.

Pride Go Chair

Pride Jazzy Elite HD

Pride Portable Jazzy Elite ES

Pride Jazzy 600 ES

Jazzy Air 2 Power Wheelchair

Golden Technologies – It’s Totally Worth It!

Golden Technologies is a family-owned business founded on real entrepreneurship. They are the world’s top manufacturer of power wheelchairs and other mobility products. Golden Technologies are proud to employ approximately 500 Americans, hence strengthening the economy. They have collaborated with some of the region’s greatest craftsmen to design and construct wheelchairs that would last for years.

Golden LiteRider Envy

Hoveround – A Lifetime Comfort Solution

Hoveround manufactures both standard and heavy-duty power wheelchairs, each engineered with a tight turning radius and enhanced durability for daily use. Hoveround’s wheelchairs significantly enhance the mobility and independence of individuals within and outside their homes. With this enhanced mobility, you may quickly navigate a confined area or tight corner without risking damage to walls or furnishings.

All-New Move Lite Folding Power Chair

1800Wheelchair – The Brand Everyone’s Talking About

Find Affordable Folding Wheelchairs

Based in NY, United States, 1800Wheelchair is a brand that needs no introduction. Founded with a mission to fill a void in the mobility equipment market, 1800Wheelchair offers more than 1,200 products in 100 categories—guided by four exemplary principles: value, convenience, timely delivery, and expert advice. Since its launch, the company has served over 1 million customers worldwide, making it a leader in the wheelchair market. All products are backed by Bread®.

Folding Wheelchairs @ 1800Wheelchairs (Recommended)

Final Verdict

So there you have it: a list of brands that sell the most affordable folding wheelchairs in the United States. With the market saturated with various brands claiming to sell ‘the best folding wheelchairs,’ the buying process can become a little overwhelming. However, with an extensive selection of products and equipment for individuals of all ages and needs, will always be your best option.

Your Guide to Buying a Wheelchair – What You Need to Know

Used by millions of individuals worldwide, the wheelchair is a piece of technology we are all familiar with. Whether manual or electric, undoubtedly, wheelchairs are vehicles for independence and freedom for people in the disabled community. The right wheelchair can open doors to a world of opportunities while allowing the user to participate in all societal, sports, and recreational activities—leading to better health and improved quality of life.

If you’re planning to buy your first wheelchair—whether to keep pushing yourself or to settle in—we understand it is certainly a big decision. In the past, medical professionals requested patients to undergo independent seating and sizing evaluations by a licensed occupational or physical therapist to determine a suitable wheelchair model. However, nowadays, individuals prefer the Internet over everything, which is why you’re here.

Buying a suitable wheelchair online is not easy as it seems, but don’t worry; you’re in safe hands. Below, we’ll uncover a step-by-step guide to buying a wheelchair in 2022. Considering that the Internet is flooded with how-to guides, tips and tricks, and unwanted suggestions, you may wonder what makes this blog different. The following guide will tell you all about things you must consider when buying a wheelchair and introduce you to some of the leading brands.

Before getting to the nitty-gritty of buying a wheelchair online, let’s pay some attention to the brief history of the technology that changed the lives of millions of individuals for the better.

Brief History of Wheelchairs

Although the actual year of the wheelchair’s origin is unknown, evidence suggests that the device has been in use since ancient times, roughly 5,000 years back. The oldest known depiction of a wheeled transportation mechanism was found on a stone sculpture from China and an image of a wheeled child’s bed on a vase from Greece. Both of these artifacts date back to the same period.

Technically speaking, it all started in 1595, when the first wheelchair, specifically constructed for disability and mobility, became available. It was referred to as an “invalid’s chair” and was created expressly for King Phillip II of Spain, who was paralyzed from the waist down. The chair had wheels connected to the tips to serve as a platform that could accommodate Phillip’s legs. It couldn’t move independently; therefore, the King most likely relied on his staff’s assistance whenever he had to move about.

As time passed, a 22-year-old paraplegic watchmaker in Germany named Stephen Farffler, who struggled with a mobility limitation due to his infirmity, created the first self-propelled chair on a three-wheel platform in 1655. Farffler was the first to have invented and used a wheelchair that could move forward without assistance. It was a steady chair affixed to a chassis with three wheels, and it had grips connected to both sides of the front wheel that were used to move the chair forward.

Later, in 1783, a man from Bath named John Dawson constructed a wheelchair named after his town. The rear of the Bath had two huge wheels, but the front only featured a single, smaller wheel. The user would guide the chair via a rigid handle, but due to its weight, all of the Bath’s designs had to be pushed or dragged by a donkey or horse. For 40 years, Bath sold the most units.

Then, in the 1800s, wheelchairs with designs comparable to those used today were developed. However, the first wheelchair to be granted a patent in 1869 had tiny casters at the front and larger wheels in the rear of the device and was also capable of being powered by the user. As time passed, wheelchairs became less cumbersome; nonetheless, they were still not readily transportable until 1932, when Harry Jennings invented the foldable tubular steel version.

Harry Jennings, an engineer, invented it for his disabled friend Herbert Everest, and together, they established Everest and Jennings, a company that had a monopoly in wheelchair manufacturing for many years. Everest & Jennings wheelchairs used to be bulky and difficult to carry, but thanks to the invention of the folding “X” bracket frame, today’s models fold up into a much more manageable size.

When it comes to the first electric or powered wheelchair, George Klein, born in Hamilton, Canada, is recognized for contributing to the design and invention. Moving forward, Klein worked on incorporating the joystick into his invention. Additionally, he worked to separate the wheel drives and make the turning components more acute. Even today, many inventors often turned to Klein’s designs for inspiration and are motivated to produce new, groundbreaking innovations.

A Supplier’s Guide to Buying a Wheelchair in 2022

Wheelchairs are integral to the day-to-day lives of individuals who have difficulty moving around. However, before you purchase a wheelchair for yourself, a friend, or a family member, there are a few things to consider. To help you select an appropriate wheelchair best suited to specific needs, we have included an overview of the wheelchair selection criteria below.

The Type of Wheelchair

Wheelchairs have come a long way since the first models were mass-produced for sale, and there have been numerous innovations in the design and construction of wheelchairs, particularly in the last fifty years. Below, we have discussed the types of wheelchairs that fall into the selection criteria, ranging from active and passive to manual and electric/motorized wheelchairs.

Active vs. Passive Wheelchair

Active wheelchairs are designed to give users the maximum amount of autonomy possible, while passive wheelchairs are meant for transporting disabled individuals who do not have the strength or capacity to push themselves. Active wheelchairs are designed to be conveniently stowed away in the trunk and are often outfitted with wheels that detach with a quick-release mechanism and a folded backrest. On the other hand, passive wheelchairs can also be collapsed or quickly disassembled—by a third party.

Manual vs. Electric Wheelchair

Now, it’s time to determine whether a manual wheelchair will suit your needs or whether you should opt for an electric one. After all, it’s evident that electric wheelchair users enjoy more comfort and exert less effort than those who use manual wheelchairs, but it all comes downs to budget restrictions. Since a manual wheelchair simply has a back, seat, arms, leg rests, handles, and wheels, they’re quite affordable when compared to electric wheelchairs. Nevertheless, we recommend you choose convenience over price.

The Daily Use

Let’s say a person who has trouble moving about uses a wheelchair most of their waking hours. In that case, they must choose the most comfortable one available, one with a plush seat cushion, armrests, a headrest, a footrest, and other similar features. On the other hand, none of these extras will be required if a wheelchair is just needed to move an individual from one place to another. Simply put, just ask yourself, which degree of convenience do you require?

Indoor vs. Outdoor, Wheel Type, and Maneuverability

While most wheelchairs are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, some chairs on the market are intended for more specialized or temporary use. This is the case with plastic-made bathroom wheelchairs. Nevertheless, handling is a vital aspect to consider, regardless of the use. This is because overcoming obstacles such as sidewalks, doorways, or gravel is easier to handle when the front wheels are bigger. On the other hand, moving indoors becomes a breeze with smaller wheels.

Heavyweight vs. Lightweight

The weight of the wheelchair is an obvious factor to consider if you want to carry it in a vehicle, and it may also impact how difficult it is to move the chair forward. The less weight there is on the frame, the simpler it will be to raise and, as a result, load into a vehicle. Although lighter is indeed better, the price of lightweight wheelchairs is significantly higher than their heavier counterparts. Most everyday chairs include a steel frame, while lightweight chairs are made of aluminum, contributing to the overall price.

Usage Frequency

When picking a suitable wheelchair for yourself or somebody else, another vital consideration to take into account is the usage frequency. Some wheelchairs are better suited for occasional use, while others work better for regular and continual usage. Wheelchairs intended for long-term use often give their occupants increased levels of comfort and pressure alleviation, as well as an overall more pleasant experience. In contrast, occasional-use wheelchairs are sometimes less durable.

Wheelchair Features to Consider

If you are in the market for a wheelchair, there is a good possibility that you are a little perplexed by the distinctions that exist between the various types. You may even have particular requirements but are unaware of the comfort that comes with each feature. Unfortunately, many manufacturers and marketers use code terms or component names that do not communicate how the feature might be advantageous. Don’t worry; we’ve already done the legwork for you.

Wheels and Tires

A wide variety of wheelchairs are available on the market today, intended to support different lifestyles, ranging from small wheels to high-performance tires that provide the user with more power and speed. Materials, dimensions, and design are the primary components that influence both the cost and the durability of the wheelchair. Discussing your interests with 1800Wheelchair is the most effective way to ensure you buy the right product while saving time and money.


Most footrests have a swinging motion that may be inwards, outwards, or occasionally both. To safely move the person into and out of the wheelchair, it is essential to have footplates that can swing away from the chair. This will enable you to stand in front of the chair without stepping over the footplates. Because doing so will minimize the total size of the frame, having the ability to remove the footplates from the wheelchair completely is another feature that is essential for transporting the device.


When sitting, the arms of a wheelchair are essential for providing support. On the other hand, they may impede the transfer process, primarily if a transfer board is used. Because of this, most wheelchairs come with armrests that can be detached and removed to facilitate sideways transfers. Some chairs also include armrests that can be removed and swung up, giving you the best of both worlds; other, more complex wheelchairs have armrests that can be adjusted in height.

Brakes and Locks

Brakes on a wheelchair are there to keep the rider secure and prevent the wheelchair from moving about while they are using it. Wheelchair users have various braking options available to them, which they may attach to the wheels of their chairs. Wheelchair wheel locks or wheel brakes are the terms most often used to refer to the brakes. When the user concentrates on a task or moves into or out of their wheelchair, they can hold onto their wheelchair in its locked position.

Chair Cushion

Cushions for wheelchairs are a product category that falls into a shopping guide all by themselves. The primary function of a cushion is to make the user feel a little more comfortable. Those with minimal injury risk should use standard foam cushions. Users at a medium risk should opt for a cushion made of memory foam or a mix of foam and gel. On the other hand, users who pose a high risk should choose a cushion that is either gel or air-based.

Best Brands for Buying Wheelchairs and Wheelchair Accessories

Regarding mobility, wheelchairs play a significant part in assisting impaired and disabled individuals in moving safely and conveniently from one place to another. Now that you’re familiar with essential features and things to consider when buying wheelchairs online, it’s time to look at the different wheelchairs available on the market. Below, we have listed some of the best yet affordable wheelchair brands available at 1800Wheelchairs.

With the market saturated with various brands claiming to sell ‘the best wheelchairs,’ the buying process can become a little overwhelming. After reading this guide, we hope you now know about the brand synonymous with ‘the best wheelchairs.’ However, with an extensive selection of products for individuals of all ages and needs, 1800Wheelchairs will always be the #1 place to shop for your favorite wheelchair brands.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a bonus, we’ve taken the time to answer some of your questions regarding wheelchairs.

How Much Do Wheelchairs Cost?

The cost of wheelchairs may range widely from one manufacturer to the next. The price of a basic, manual wheelchair with no extra features may start as low as a few hundred dollars and go up depending on the size and the number of extras included. The price of power wheelchairs will begin at around $2,500 and continue to rise depending on the extras included, some of which are required by law and others just desirable. Customized electric chairs may cost several thousand dollars.

Are There Any Financing Options Available for Wheelchair Purchase?

A wheelchair is a significant investment that calls for easy and affordable financing, and 1800Wheelchairs is here to assist you via Bread® Financing. With this option, you can easily choose a suitable wheelchair or wheelchair accessory from the above brands and pay for your purchase over time with monthly payments. Bread provides a choice in a matter of seconds, and there is never any pressure to purchase. Note that your credit score will not be affected by checking rates.

The Final Cut

So, there you have it: a complete guide to buying a wheelchair. At 1800Wheelchairs, we understand how overwhelming it might be to track down a suitable wheelchair packed with all the desired features. However, the wheelchairs brands mentioned above are the best currently on the market and definitely won’t break your bank. Additionally, if you opt for a motorized wheelchair, we recommend you check your state regulations first, as they may have changed with time.