In the aftermath of a stroke, a patient may be assigned to or prescribed a wheelchair, either during the short-term and during their stay at the hospital, or to be used at home after being discharged. This isn’t something to be disheartened about, though – a wheelchair is simply a part of the rehabilitative process, letting you remain active and mobile while also allowing you to keep the pressure off your recovering body.
The type of wheelchair you pick depends on a handful of factors – including which stage of recovery you’re in, and where and for how long you intend to use the chair. You could pick an option to navigate your home, sitting up from your bed and sliding into it so you’re not prone for too long, or a lightweight and portable chair for quick or short-term trips to your doctor’s appointment or physical therapy, a pit-stop at the store or dinner at a restaurant. We’ve rounded up some of the best options for wheelchairs to aid a stroke patient in their day-to-day lives and toward recovery.
Drive Medical Cruiser III Wheelchair
Self-propelled wheelchairs are ill-advised in the immediate aftermath of a stroke, but as you recover, being able to get out and about on your own is as much a key to healing as physical therapy is. And one of the reasons this wheelchair takes our top spot is because it’s designed to let you do just that. Soft but resilient nylon upholstery makes this a very comfortable chair, a vital factor to consider for something you’re going to be spending a lot of time in. In fact, comfort is integral in the design of this wheelchair. With in-built rail extensions and adjustable seat depth options, you can set the chair up to suit your specific needs. The elevating footrest is a great feature for the times we need to just lay back and take a break, while swing-away padded armrests are a blessing to push out of the way so you can easily slide into and out of the chair, for instance when getting out of bed or slipping into a restaurant seat, without needing anyone to help you out.
Large rear wheels give you stability both indoors and out, particularly for ascending concrete ramps or climbing onto sidewalks, with push-rims you can use to roll yourself along as well as handlebars situated at the back to let a caregiver propel you when you’re tired or not fit to maneuver yourself. Smooth rolling front caster wheels let you slide along with ease, with push-to-lock mechanisms to ‘brake’ the chair. The chair’s weight capacity falls between 300 and 350 pounds depending on the size you choose. Foldable and just short of 40 pounds in weight (again depending on the size you choose), this is a great portable chair to take with you so you can navigate clinics, stores and pavements without hindrance.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
While a version of this chair is available with the attractive feature of elevating legrests, this variation of the Drive Medical Blue Streak wheelchair still packs a bunch of selling points, including its very pocket-friendly price. For one, the legrest can still be adjusted – designed to be swing-away, you can move them out of the way when you need to get in and out of the chair without them hampering you. Detachable padded desk length arms let you slide the chair in under a desk or table so you can sit with the family or with friends for a meal, or get some work done without needing to deposit yourself into a different chair. With comfy and breathable nylon upholstery and ergonomic seating to let you relax into the chair and aid your recovery, push-rim extensions on the large rear wheels allow you to propel yourself along, with handlebars for a caregiver to use, a push-to-lock system letting you ‘brake’ the chair when you don’t want it rolling off. The durable rubber wheels are maintenance-free and roll smoothly, available in three seat widths to accommodate different body shapes and sizes. The chair can hold weights up to 250 pounds.
NOVA Medical Products 22″ Heavy Duty Transport Wheelchair
As the name indicates, this is a transport wheelchair, better suited for shorter periods of usage than for hours on end. Transport wheelchairs are ideal when you need to go out, be it for shopping, a lunch meet-up or for your doctor’s appointments, and this unit comes with a couple of features that make it a great option in its category. For starters, we appreciate the safety belt – an adjustable strap you can lock on, handy when you’re going over bumps or inclines. In fact, the chair is pretty much built to let you move comfortably outdoors – feather-touch handbrakes built into the chair’s push-handles are an appropriate safety measure for inclines and bumps, so your attendant or caregiver can control the chair’s speed, especially when going downhill, while rugged rubber tires with the lockable 12-inch rear wheels give you a smooth wheeling experience.
The chair is great for indoor use too – the padded armrests flip up while the footrest swings away, so you can slide in and out of the chair with ease, as well as roll your legs under a table for dinner or work. A roomy seat lets you settle comfortably into the chair, with a 22-inch armrest width, a weight capacity of 400 pounds, and a standard seat height of 20 inches. The chair is available in both red and blue, and is foldable.
Karman Healthcare Ergonomic Wheelchair
The ergonomic S-shape makes this a comfortable chair to spend time in without putting unnecessary pressure on any part of your body, so you get to maintain the right support and posture to expedite recovery. The upholstery is soft, breathable and anti-bacterial, as well as removable for washing.
The lightweight and foldable wheelchair is available in two sizes – 16 by 17 inches and 18 by 17 inches – weighing up to or above 20 pounds. This, along with the large rear wheels, also makes this a great unit to use outdoors, to overcome sidewalks and concrete ramps to access buildings and so on. Equipped with handlebars and push-rims extending from the rear wheels, the chair is ideal both for rolling along by yourself as well as being pushed by a caregiver, with handbrakes attached to the push-handles for extra safety.
The armrests of the chair are desk-length, letting you slide your legs underneath your workstation, while the swing-away footrest makes it easy to get in and out of the chair as well as giving you a sturdy foothold. The weight capacity of the chair is about 220 pounds.