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What is a Companion Wheelchair?

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  • Written By: Amy Myers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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A companion wheelchair, also called a transport wheelchair, is a short-term mobility device for people who are unable to walk because of illness, injury, or disability. In contrast to a standard wheelchair, a companion wheelchair must be pushed by a caregiver or home nurse, because all four wheels are small and, therefore, cannot be operated by the chair user alone. Oftentimes used to transport someone to and from the hospital or care facility, a companion wheelchair is lightweight and folds down to a smaller size for transport.

Geared towards short trips, a companion wheelchair includes a basic seat, lightly padded arm rests that may be removable, and small removable or swing-away foot rests. It also has handles for the caregiver to use in pushing and brakes to lock the chair in place. A companion wheelchair is usually made of lightweight metal such as aluminum and fabric such as nylon.

Companion wheelchairs are designed for ease of use and transport by a home care worker or caregiver, not for long-term comfort. They are smaller and less bulky than standard wheelchairs, and feature four small wheels of similar size to make it easier for the home care worker to move around. Companion wheelchairs easily fold to fit into a standard car's trunk. When folding for storage, many have a fold-down backrest and removable foot rests.

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A key consideration when choosing a companion wheelchair is how easy it is to fold and unfold. Flat-free tires and solid rubber casters for durability also are preferred options. Many companion wheelchairs are small, so pay attention to seat width and weight capacity before choosing one, especially if the chair is for use following a bariatric or weight-loss procedure. The padding on most companion wheelchairs is limited, so consider using an additional removable cushion if comfort becomes an issue.

Transport or companion chairs are designed for short trips, so they are rather basic. They generally don't come in reclining models or have many other enhancements. With smaller wheels and lightweight materials, a companion wheelchair can weigh less than 15 pounds (6.8 kg), though some go up to 30 pounds (13.6 kg). Many transport or companion wheelchairs are affordable, as well, costing less than $100 US Dollars (USD).

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