Just as its name suggests, a reclining wheelchair is a wheelchair with a reclining backrest. Typically light in weight, these chairs are ideal for users with orthostatic hypotension and hip extension contractures. They also allow you to redistribute pressure to avoid skin breakdown.
Aside from this, a reclining manual wheelchair can also make life a little more comfortable for people who use them as their primary means of mobility. The reclining feature moves incrementally to maximize safety and support while also preventing pressure sores.
|Model||Weight Capacity||Weight||More Information|
|up to 300 pounds||64 pounds|
|up to 300 pounds||63 pounds|
|up to 350 pounds||~55 pounds|
The Difference between a Conventional and Recliner Wheelchair
The primary difference between a conventional and recliner wheelchair is, of course, the reclining feature.
The anatomy, or design, of the chair is a little different, too. Most reclining models have higher backs and additional calf support to make the reclining feature as supportive and safe as possible.
Many also have a tilt feature, which pivots the seat, to further prevent skin breakdown (i.e. bed sores). Tilting helps to evenly spread the weight, which prevents pressure-related sores.
In most cases, both the reclining and the tilt features are controlled using a hand brake system. This system is usually on the handles at the back of the chair to prevent the user from accidentally reclining while moving.
Who Can Benefit from a Wheelchair Recliner?
Most users can benefit from a wheelchair with a reclining back, but some will benefit more than others.
The ideal candidate for this type of wheelchair is someone who needs extra support and has issues with skin breakdown. Reclining chairs can also be a good fit for elderly users who may get drowsy when out with friends or family.
Young and more active users may want to avoid this type of wheelchair. Most models cannot be self-propelled, and they can be a bit heavier than lightweight chairs. Some reclining models only have four small wheels, which makes them nearly impossible to propel with your arms.
These chairs are fairtypically cannot be folded up and stored in the trunk of a car, so if transportability is a concern, a reclining chair may not be the best option for you.
What to Look for When Buying a Reclining Back Wheelchair
There are several features that you should be looking for when buying a wheelchair with a reclining back:
- Adjustable Armrests: For personalized comfort, you want a chair that offers adjustable armrests. Ideally, the armrests will also flip up or can be removed altogether to make it easier to get in and out of the chair.
- Tilt Feature: A tilt feature helps prevent skin breakdowns as it helps distribute the weight evenly.
- Cushion and Seat Pan: Look for models that have a comfortable cushion. The seat pan should be solid to better support the cushion.
- Anti-Tipping Feature: An anti-tipping feature can prevent the chair from accidently tipping backwards.
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Our 3 Reclining Wheelchair Picks
To help you find the right reclining high back wheelchair, we’ve hand-picked three best-selling models that meet all or most of the criteria above.
1. Drive Medical Silver Sport
The Silver Sport reclining chair from Drive Medical uses a hydraulic reclining system to allow for virtually limitless adjustments up to 180-degrees.
With calf and extended arm support, this chair allows users to safely recline to their desired position without straining muscles or joints. The leg rests can be elevated to prevent sores on the feet and calves, and they can also be swung away from the chair for easy entry and exit.
The Mag-style wheels are virtually maintenance-free and lightweight for easy use. And because the wheels are set back on the frame, this chair cannot be tipped backwards.
The nylon upholstery is comfortable, while the carbon steel frame creates an attractive look.
The durability, design and safety features of this chair make it one of the best reclining models on the market.
2. Drive Medical Sentra
Drive Medical’s Sentra is a high back reclining wheelchair with a similar design to our previous pick. The primary difference between the two is the backrest design.
The hydraulic reclining mechanism allows you to adjust the backrest to virtually any position you please up to 180 degrees. A cushioned head immobilizer keeps the head and neck in a safe position, while the elevating leg rests prevent leg sores.
The triple carbon steel frame is highly durable, and the anti-tip wheels prevent this chair from tipping backwards. The detachable desk arms are also a convenient feature.
With a weight capacity of 450 pounds, the Sentra is a great option for virtually all users.
3. Medline Excel Reclining Wheelchair
The Medline Excel offers one thing that most reclining chairs do not: portability. When not in use, this chair can be folded up and transported wherever needed.
The dual axle design allows for easy seat height adjustment. Standard anti-tippers are built in to prevent the chair from tipping backwards, while the vinyl upholstery adds to the durability of this chair.
The arms are desk length for added convenience, while the leg rests elevate to further prevent pressure sores. The leg supports also pivot out to the side to make it easy to get in and out of the chair.
The Excel’s 300-pound capacity makes this model a good fit for most users. As an added bonus, the headrest is removable, so you can customize the comfort level of this chair.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.