What You Need to Know About Active Manual Wheelchair Back Types

By Lee Ann Hoffman, O.T., MSc. Rehabilitation

November 19, 2016

Topics: Manual WheelchairsWheelchair Parts

Choosing the correct wheelchair back is critical to obtaining proper support. When you are choosing a back support, decide if you want it to be removable or fixed to your wheelchair. Your choice will depend on your particular situation and how you use your chair, so be sure to think about your daily schedule and lifestyle before making a decision with your therapist. Here are a few things to know about back support and the wheelchair frame choice:


the right wheelchair back is key to getting proper support

  • Fold-Down: If you’re on the go a lot, fold-down backs can help make transportation, storage, and travel a little easier. Fold-down wheelchair backs not only make being mobile easier, but they usually also offer more angle adjustability for those who need it.
  • Fixed: Fixed wheelchair backs typically weigh less than other wheelchair back types, but they do not fold down and your desired back angle must be known at the time your chair is made.
  • Push-Handles: Some wheelchair backs do not have push handles, which help reduce some of your wheelchair’s weight and provides greater upper body movement. Push handles are the bends at the top of your wheelchair’s back tubes, and they enable other attendants to push your chair if needed. However, this could get tricky if you need assistance accessing curbs or steps when you are out and about and your family or friends have nothing to hold.

Choosing your wheelchair back is an important part of getting a wheelchair that not only fits you physically, but also fits your lifestyle. Be sure to take these points into consideration as you go for fittings and appointments.


Lee Ann Hoffman, O.T., MSc. Rehabilitation

Lee Ann Hoffman, O.T., MSc. Rehabilitation

Lee Ann qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1999 in South Africa. She completed a post graduate certificate in Posture Management for complex disabilities in 2010, and obtained a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation: Posture Management, 2015 in the United Kingdom. Lee Ann has experience in working with children and adults with complex disabilities and adopts the 24-hour approach to postural management. She is currently a clinical educator for Invacare USA.

Submit A Comment