Rigid frame wheelchairs (or simply rigid wheelchairs, as they are sometimes known), are a popular choice for many manual wheelchair users. A quick examination of how they are built will explain why. Rigid frame wheelchairs tend to be more lightweight than their folding counterparts, making them easier to operate either as a user or a carer. Rigid frame wheelchairs are usually built to spec, meaning they are made-to-measure to suit your personal dimensions.
Of course, one concern that many users have when deciding on the type of manual wheelchair that’s right for them is whether or not they can fold down a rigid frame wheelchair to make it easier to get in and out of a vehicle, or put away for storage.
The simple answer is yes. While it might not be a folding wheelchair in the traditional sense, you can certainly reduce the amount of space taken up by a rigid frame wheelchair. In this article, we will explain just how to do that.
This is the one part of your wheelchair that won’t fold down, it being literally the “rigid frame” that gives this type of wheelchair its name. With a traditional folding wheelchair, this is one of the key fold points and the lack of a folding mechanism contributes to the rigid wheelchair’s lighter frame.
The backrest on most rigid frame chairs folds forwards, hinged where it makes contact with the seat. This immediately removes a lot of the chair’s height. Some rigid wheelchairs are fitted with a low backrest, forgoing the need to be foldable, or with a removable contour backrest that can be lifted off to minimise the lifting weight.
Whether you can alter your chair’s sideguards depends on the make and model of your wheelchair. Some of them are bolted or welded in place and completely immovable, while others are hinged at the bottom, allowing them to be folded inwards towards the seat. Some other models have sideguards that click in and out of position. While these can’t be folded in, they can be easily removed, when needed.
This is the part that really makes a difference in terms of space because the frame on its own is a small size. The rear wheels on most rigid frame wheelchairs are attached with quick release axle pins. This means they can be easily removed and replaced – perfect for getting them into and out of a vehicle.
Some models go even further. The RGK Octane FX, for example, is a rigid wheelchair that has a folding front frame as well as a backrest, which mean you can fold it up to a fraction of its size, while the chair itself suffers no loss of efficiency compared to less versatile models.
If you’re thinking of buying a rigid frame wheelchair, call Bromakin today on 01509 217569 and make an appointment to visit us at our Loughborough showroom. We will demonstrate some of our most popular models for you, including how easy they are to fold.