What’s the difference between a standard wheelchair and a transport chair? We can clear it up for you!

standard wheelchair mobility wheelchair

When thinking about choosing the right standard wheelchair or transport chair- it helps to know about your options. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all giant clumsy chairs! Now, there is a considerable variety of mobility devices out there to suit every need.

We’ve published a post about how to choose a wheelchair before. You can check that out here for more detailed information about those, but in this article, we want to educate you a little bit about both standard wheelchairs and transport chairs, and the difference between them. 

Differences in size, weight, seat type, and wheel size are just a few of the things that differentiate standard wheelchairs from transport chairs. Probably the most important differences lie within usage. Consider how you’ll most likely be using your chair regularly and work from there. 

Standard Wheelchair vs.Transport Chair Features: 

  • Transport chairs combine the portability of a rollator and the functions of a wheelchair. 
  • Unlike a standard wheelchair, you’ll need a partner to push from behind to get around in a transport chair. Their wheels are smaller than that of a wheelchair and aren’t suitable for propelling oneself. If you like a little more self-reliance or aren’t planning on going out regularly with others who can give you a push, a standard wheelchair might be your pick.
  • Transport chairs are intended for those who are still independently mobile. If you don’t quite need a full-time mobility chair but may tire out during an outing and need a little push (literally!) to keep up with the pack, a transport chair may be best for you. If you’re going to be using your mobility chair most of the time, like at home or out shopping without company, a standard chair might be best.
  • The seats and frame of a transport chair are designed to allow the chair to fold easily. They’re also made to be lightweight and flexible. Their design makes them ideal for folding up and storage. For instance, in the trunk or back seat of a car, or for carrying up a flight of stairs if needed. Standard chairs usually still fold but tend to be more solid, which means more bulky. This can make it harder to carry around and require more strength to lift.
  • Wheel size matters! If you intend to use your chair mostly on solid, even ground, the smaller wheels of a transport chair are suitable. Smaller wheels don’t do as well on rough terrain, however. If you’re looking to get flexible and travel a nature trail or someplace similar- look for bigger, more sturdy wheels. Some transport chairs have larger wheels, but for the best security on uneven terrain, a wheelchair may be best. 
  • Both standard and transport chairs come with various seat options, so regardless of which one you’re looking for- shop with comfort in mind. Consider the shape of the seat and what materials it’s made of. Is there a backrest? Think about padding- a seat without sufficient padding may get uncomfortable quickly, putting a damper on your trip. 
  • Think about width when choosing a chair. If you are using it mostly in places without a lot of space, like the theater or restaurants, for instance, you may want to think about a narrower chair. When running bigger errands like grocery shopping, standard chairs may be wider, but they may also be more comfortable. 

We can help!

Selecting a mobility device doesn’t have to be difficult! Getting the right one for your needs can open up a world of independence and freedom to go where you want. At NCO, we carry a large variety of both standard wheelchairs and transport chairs for rental and purchase. Our staff takes pride in being very knowledgeable about our mobility devices. Come in for a consult- we’re more than happy to help you select the best chair for you!