Again, I’ve divided the chairs into three categories and I encourage you to read through all three and discuss them with your therapy team to help you make the best decision. For my purposes, I classified a full tilt wheelchair as anything that had tilt capabilities of more than 40 degrees. Tilt wheelchairs are usually best for those with low trunk control who may need the tilt to help prevent scoliosis.
Starting this category with Quickie Iris. As I’ve said before, the Quickie is everywhere and many families will at least consider one of their chairs while shopping. The Iris in a tilt-in-space chair, which means it has a smaller profile than traditional tilt chairs. It doesn’t collapse, but it does grow and at 22 lbs. it’s one of the lightest chairs in the category (be aware, accessories raise the weight). With a tilt of up to 60 degrees it’s also got one of the largest tilts available.
Freedom Designs has come out with a very interesting new chair–the NXT Model. It has rigid seating and frame, but is able to be collapsed. It comes in at a light 21.5 lbs, and offers 0-45 degrees of tilt in addition to an adjustable back angle of 80 to 120 degrees. It’s got some growability, and offers one free growth kit during the life of the chair. I like the mesh seating which is designed to help keep kids cool. My son is prone to over-heating, so I can definitely see the benefit in that. Freedom Designs is a small company, so their sales reps are spaced out, but I suspect this chair might be worth the drive for some families.
Convaid has a similar chair, the Safari, which has between 5 and 45 degrees of tilt, and 90 to 10 5 deg r ees of recline. I see many families using this chair at our local park. It’s heavier at 35 pounds, but it collapses down to the size of a golf bag. The seating is soft, so I do think durability might be an issue for some. Perfect for families where space is at a premium–I’m thinking especially those located in urban areas.
If you may end up paying out of pocket for your wheelchair, the Kidster from Gunnell Inc. is worth looking into. It’s the only tilt chair I could find that has growing capabilities all the way up to adulthood which could mean big savings if you’re the one footing the bill. The frame has a twenty-five year warranty and the rest of the parts carry a five year warranty. It weighs 32 lbs. which is on the heavier side, but it can be broken down into smaller parts if needed to put in a car trunk. It has a tilt of up to 80 degrees and the seat back can be released to 180 degrees for napping or diaper changes. I also like that independent mobility is an option with this chair as that can be difficult to find in tilt chairs.
I’m now going to mention two chairs that seem to split the difference between standard and tilt. They both offer a seat recline action, but not a true tilt. I’ll put these same descriptions in the standard section to make sure people have access to all the information. It’s important to remember that “tilt” and “recline” are not the same. Tilt keeps the user in correct posture while relieving pressure on his spine. Recline leans back like a living room recliner would, but may cause the user’s pelvis to slide forward. Children who will using one of these features a lot should probably look for a tilt chair instead of one that just reclines.
The Cheetah from Snug Seat claims to be “the most innovative and stylish pediatric wheelchair in a decade.” I don’t know about all that, but it is a nice-looking and unusual wheelchair. It caught the eye of several people I know when it was seen on the short-lived TV show on TLC, “Table for Twelve.” The three wheel design is interesting and Snug Seat tells us that it allows for a smooth pivot. They also believe that the three-wheel design allows the chair to slide smoothly under desks and tables. From my perspective, the most interesting thing about the Cheetah is that it has a back that reclines to up to twenty-eight degrees. This would be great for a child that normally sits upright, but that might need to rest on longer trips. This chair doesn’t fold, but it is growable. At 22 pounds, it’s heavier than most standard chairs, but that’s lighter than many tilt chairs so it might be a good fit for some families.
There’s also the Comet from Invacare. Again, I had a tough time getting information on this chair–Invacare might need to step up their public profile a bit. Similar to the Cheetah, the Comet offers a reclining seat–their seat reclines to twenty degrees–for children who don’t require a full tilt option. It’s growable, but not collapseable. The thing that sets this chair apart, however, is the reverse option, which allows the large steering wheels to be in front. This would allow a child with small stature easy access for steering. This might be the perfect fit for a small child who is still able to do their own steering. Again, it’s heavier than most standard chairs at 22.5 pounds, but that’s still on the light side for a tilt chair.
Are you tired yet? Your head spinning? Me too. And this is only the tip of the ice burg. There are other chairs in this category and then there are the other two categories. I have created some super-useful, downloadable PDF comparison charts for each of the three categories. You may want to print those out and look them over or share them with the professionals that are helping you select your chair.