If you are a wheelchair user, then you have probably heard the word ‘camber’ mentioned once or twice. If you recently sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI) and are now using a wheelchair, you may be wondering what camber is exactly and why it should matter to you.
Camber is the angle of the rear wheels of a wheelchair. If you have seen a wheelchair with rear wheels angled in towards the top – that’s camber!
Camber is measured in degrees and can only be applied to the rear wheels of a wheelchair. Camber can help improve some handling aspects of your wheelchair and can also improve lateral stability.
While some wheelchairs offer the ability to adjust camber, most wheelchairs are order
ed with a certain degree of camber. During the building process, camber is most often adjusted by inserting a camber bar that alters the angle of the wheels or adjusts the axle plate.
The higher the degree of camber, the more of an increase in width across the bottom. This wider width provides the wheelchair user with lateral stability and redirects force, which softens the ride. An increase in camber also allows the wheelchair user to turn more quickly.
An increase in the degree of camber can have benefits for your body, too. With the wheels at an angle, the push rims are in a better position for pushing. It is also a more natural motion for the wheelchair user to push down and out on the wheels. With the plane of the wheelchair closer to the shoulders, less strain is placed on the shoulders when propelling your wheelchair. An added bonus? Your hands will be protected when maneuvering through tight spaces as your wheels will hit before they do!
Source: usatechguide.org, Accessed: 4/3/17