Definition: Defining the Meaning of All Terrain Wheelchair
All-terrain wheelchairs allow users to enter the water and provide a better mobility on beach sand and on uneven terrain, and even snow. The common adaptation among the different designs is that they have extra-wide wheels or tires, to increase stability on uneven or unsteady terrain. The wide tires on snow wheelchairs, for example, spread the weight of the chair user and the chair over a wider surface, similar to how snowshoes perform the same purpose for someone on foot, allowing the person to travel on top of the snow rather than sinking. Different models are available, both manual and battery-driven. In many countries in Europe, where accessible tourism is well established, many beaches are wheelchair accessible and provide this kind of wheelchair to clients free of charge. Some charge a rental fee.
Today there are many types, shapes, and sizes of both manual and powered all terrain wheelchairs for the outdoors person who loves the beach and being off the beaten track.
For the approximately 7 million wheelchair users, the joy of traveling to the beach only to use the boardwalk, visiting your local park just to stay on the paved pathways, or going out in the snow is unfair.
Finally there are wheelchairs designed for the outdoors, some are even capable of being pushed into the surf so the user can experience the thrill of breaking waves over their body. This is possible because the wheels are over-sized pneumatic tires that absorb almost all road shocks for a very comfortable ride. The extra wide tires distribute the weight of the wheelchair and person and therefore making it easier to push through many different environments, including water.
All terrain wheelchairs give you the flexibility of complete off-road movements in villages, at the beach or lake, in parks and camping.
The skinny one inch thick tires on most wheelchairs are no match for the sand, gravel, mud, or any rough terrain. Some wheelchair makers have 2" knobby tires, but they still sink in loose soil. It feels like you are pushing through quicksand. Beach wheelchairs make it possible to travel over almost any kind of uneven or difficult terrain.
Plastic wheelchairs are available for use in pools or on the beach.
The hard plastic frame is usually designed to be disassembled and transported easily. Some plastic wheelchairs have reclining backs, allowing you to lay by the pool and tan without having to leave the chair. In addition to going on a trip to the ocean, beach wheelchairs can also offer you access to any natural area with rough ground or snow, and all the places your usual wheelchair can't take you.
The Landeez manual all-terrain and beach wheelchair was designed specifically to enable people who use wheelchairs to come in closer contact with nature. The Landeez can roll easily over sand, snow, and gravel. Its soft plastic pneumatic tires absorb almost all road shocks for a remarkably comfortable ride. This type of the wheelchair is designed to be pushed by someone. This might be a trade-off for those wheelchair users who are very independent versus spending the day at the beach and enjoying nature. There are also electric powered all terrain wheelchairs.
Another company, Achievable Concepts, has achieved particular success with its Disability BMX trikes, the "Aussie Beach Wheelchair" and children's special needs all-terrain strollers.
There are also prefabricated kits which can be used to turn a manual wheelchair into a beach mobility device. These kits generally don't use wheels that will allow you to push yourself, but it is the cheapest option. You also may want to make sure your wheelchair will not suffer any corrosion or rusting if it is exposed to sea water.
Quick Facts: All Terrain Wheelchair
Many all terrain wheelchairs are unable to fold and have non removable wheels making them very difficult to transport. Most wheelchair accessible transport vans have just enough room for one wheelchair. These types of constraints limits the wheelchair user access to nature. Therefore, the All Terrain Wheelchair must also be portable, lightweight, and easy to assemble.