The primary design of a rigid wheelchair is to fit the body of the user. The primary design of a folding wheelchair is to fold. Folding wheelchairs are generally boxy, while rigid wheelchairs conform to the shape of the body. For example, with a rigid chair, one can taper the design to conform to the body shape (large at the hips, narrow at the knees) which can hold the users body in place.
Performance is only one of the advantages of a rigid wheelchair over folding wheelchairs. Below is a partial list of advantages of rigid wheelchairs over folding chairs.
Better Body Fit (Design):
The primary design of a rigid wheelchair is to fit the body of the user. The primary design of a folding wheelchair is to fold. Folding wheelchairs are generally boxy, while rigid wheelchairs conform to the shape of the body. For example, with a rigid chair, one can taper the design to conform to the body shape (large at the hips, narrow at the knees) which can hold the users' body in place. Also the aluminum between the knees and footrest can be tapered (wider at the knees, narrow at the feet) holding the feet in place. With a folding chair, you can not taper it or it would not close completely.
After Market Adjustments:
Rigid wheelchairs generally have more configurations and adjustments then folding chairs. Most folding wheelchairs have limits in their configurations and adjustments. For example, many folding wheelchairs do not allow for adjusting the angle between the backrest and the seat.
Users can easily make transfers from rigid wheelchairs into some cars independently. With a folding wheelchair, the user usually requires a companion to fold the wheelchair and put it in the car trunk. With some forms of rigid wheelchairs, the user can transfer into the car and from the inside of the car, remove the two wheels, fold down the back rest and bring the wheelchair inside the car and place it either in the back seat or on the floor. An independent transfer would be more difficult in a folding wheelchair.
Some rigid wheelchairs are designed to be attractive. Folding wheelchairs are rarely considered attractive, only functional
What is the advantage of a folding wheelchair? Mainly there is one advantage: a folding chair can be stored in a trunk of an automobile without removing the wheels. Rigid wheelchairs are not for everyone, but many people who are now using folding wheelchairs are better off in a rigid wheelchair.
Who is the right customer for a rigid wheelchair? Someone who:
Has good upper body strength
Wants to be independent
Is young and active (5-50 years)
Sees their wheelchair as part of their body and not just a piece of furniture
Who is the right customer for a folding chair? Someone who:
Will never be independent or has no upper body strength
Has minimal upper body strength or coordination
Is very young (0-4) or older (60-90)
A rigid wheelchair is made for the users' convenience. Folding wheelchairs are made for companions' convenience. Which would you prefer