If you have been a regular user of a wheelchair or a mobility aid, you will already know the immense benefits it can provide you with. Your wheelchair has helped you to get back your lost mobility and you can probably access almost anything now-a-days with its help.
Indeed, governments across many parts of the world have been really proactive over the last few years to come up with regulations around accessibility that builders and constructions have to adhere to. This has helped make buildings and public spaces more accessible for everyone. You have reclaimed your lifestyle, you have been able to restore your freedom of movements and you have become independent. All thanks to your wheelchair!
However, if you have been using your wheelchair for long periods of time, it is important that your wheelchair is like a good car – as comfortable to be in as possible. And that comfort is a factor of a lot of things and features in a wheelchair, including proper cushioning, seat height and width, ability to recline your wheelchair, arm, leg and head rests, wheel suspension, battery life etc.
Top Reclining Wheelchairs with Headrest
In this article we will take up the importance of having the reclining facility in your wheelchair and the advantages of having a headrest. We will also review a few wheelchairs with these benefits and list out the pros and cons of each.
Why Choose a Reclining Wheelchair with Headrest?
A wheelchair with the facility to recline the backrest at different angles is really beneficial when it comes to increasing your comfort. Depending on the angle of recline, it helps you to redistribute your weight from a posture which puts all the wight on your bottom to a posture which distributes a part of your body weight on your back. Although this feature is generally helpful and a little more comfortable for everybody, it is extremely helpful for you if you are prone to body sores or skin breaks, as it helps you to shift your weight after regular intervals.
While you are using your wheelchair for short periods of time, you may not feel the need for a headrest. However, the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders can get stiff from long periods of sitting in an upright position without support. Also, if you are reclining your wheelchair beyond a certain angle, you will definitely need a headrest, which is why most wheelchairs with recline facility will also have a headrest. Imagine yourself on a beach, reclined at a wide angle on your chair, placing your head on the headrest, under an umbrella. The life that is awaiting you!
While the recline facility of a wheelchair is integral to the design and you need to decide whether you need that feature, before buying, for headrest it is different. You may go ahead with buying a wheelchair without a headrest and separately buy a headrest and fix it on your wheelchair, if you find the need for it.
Fixing a Separate Headrest on your Wheelchair
In case your wheelchair does not have a headrest, you can buy one separately and fix on the pushing handle bars of the chair. It has to be screwed on to the handle bars. Some headrests can be adjusted in height as well as depth as to how far your head will fall back once you rest on the headrest. While buying the headrest you have to take into account the width of your seat and buy accordingly. Wheelchair headrests come in small, medium and large sizes to meet wheelchair seat sizes.
Now, we get into our reviews of reclining wheelchairs with headrest.
Review 1 – Drive Medical Full Reclining Wheelchair Viper Plus GT
This reclining wheelchair with a headrest weighs under 49 pounds. It has a seating weight capacity of 300 lbs. The product also has hand brakes for attendants, which is a very nice safety feature.
The backrest has adjustable height feature. Which means that this wheelchair can be potentially used by more than one person in the same household. The back height is adjustable from 17 inches to 19 inches at 1 inch interval. The seat depth can be adjusted up to 2 inches. This is a very useful feature for taller users of this wheelchair.
This is a full reclining self propelled wheelchair and it is on the higher end in terms of price.
- Taller users can extend the seat depth by 2 inches to get a better fit on the wheelchair. Alternatively, if you do not need extension you can still use the extra depth for some extra cushioning
- The arm rests can be flipped back for easier access to the seat
- Durable upholstery and wheelchair material
- Hand brake gives greater control to care giver or attendant
- The 17 inch seat model has total width of 24 inches, which makes it a good candidate to go through standard doors
- Wheel locks are conveniently located, so that you may reach them easily from your seat
- Height adjustable feature of back rest is beneficial if the wheelchair is being used by two people in the same household.
- Seat cushioning could have been thicker for greater comfort. You may want to add separate cushioning
- Foot rests are not fully adjustable, may cause discomfort at some degrees of incline
Review 2 – Drive Medical Silver Sport Reclining Wheelchair
This is a fully reclining wheelchair weighing 64 pounds. It can carry a weight of up to 350 pounds. The device has a headrest with head immobilizer. This is quite helpful in holding your head in position if you fall asleep on the wheelchair. It comes with calf padding and detachable foot rests and had brakes for care givers.
It comes in different seat width options, giving heavier users an option to use this wheelchair. The hand brakes on the back is a very good safety feature for an attendant.
On the downside, the headrest and the seat overall do not come with a lot of padding. This means that it may not be as comfortable as some of its peers. To overcome this, you might want to add your own cushion.
- Durable and sturdy design
- Hydraulic mechanism for incline allows for adjusting options at any angle till 180 degrees or sleeping position
- Detachable headrest offers better customization
- Arms can be extended for inclined positions at larger recline angles
- Rear anti-tippers add to safety features and prevent chair from tipping over backwards
- Available seat widths of 16 or 18 or 20 inches takes care of a wide range of user body sizes
- Hand brakes on the back of the pushing rail gives greater control to attendant
- The 20 inch seat version has total width of 29 inches, which may cause your knuckles to be bruised against doorways or passageways if you are not careful
- The headrest does not have much cushion and may uncomfortable
- Lack of cushioning on the seat. You may want to add your own cushions
Review 3 – Compass Health ProBasics Reclining Wheelchair
This reclining wheelchair with headrest comes assembled and can be reclined at any angle from 90 to 160 degrees. While not fully flat, this does give the user a wide range of reclining angle.
This wheelchair comes in four different seat sizes from 16 inches to 22 inches. The largest model is capable of carrying a maximum weight of 300 pounds. Thus it is definitely an option for bigger users
The wheelchair is equipped with hand brakes for the care giver and adjustable leg and foot rests. The adjustable recline and leg rests together allow for a wide range of body postures, which you may require if you are using you chair for a long period. This also helps reduce number of transfers per day and user can sleep on the chair itself
Weighing in at just under 60 pounds, this wheelchair is a bit on the heavier side and can be a little unwieldy for some of its users. The headrest is not very comfortable and you may find it too bulky leading to sub-optimal body posture. However, the headrest is detachable.
- The hand brakes make it easier for the care giver to control the chair
- Available in 4 sizes of 16, 18, 20, 22 inches
- Uncomfortable headrest
- Slightly heavier and unwieldy wheelchair
- Lack of cushioning on the seat may make it uncomfortable during long periods of use
Review 4 – Invacare Tracer SX5 Recliner Wheelchair
This reclining wheelchair with headrest can fully recline from 90 to 180 degrees. This can give its user a flat surface to even sleep on.
The wheelchair weighs about 70 pounds, thus it is on the heavier side of our list here. It can carry up to maximum weight of 300 pounds. The seat height of the chair can be adjusted from 17.5 inches to 19.5 inches, depending on your height.
While not the widest on the list, this wheelchair is slightly on the wider side with the 18 inch seat option measuring about 26.5 inches from side to side. Thus, you might want to be aware of the narrowest point where you need to fit this wheelchair in your day to day use.
- Seat height adjustment option along with backrest incline option gives a lot of flexibility and can be customized as per your height
- Anti-tippers on the back wheels help to maintain balance and prevents chair from tipping over backwards
- Available till seating width of 22 inches
- Detachable headrest cushion offers greater flexibility
- Good customer service
- Seat depth cannot be adjusted and at 16 inches, you may find the chair a bit smaller for your height, if you are taller than six feet
- Does not have a seat belt. You have to buy one separately and install
- Models with larger seating width may find it difficult to pass through standard doorways
Review 5 – Electric Wheelchair with Reclining Back by YPYJ
This reclining wheelchair is the only powered option on our list. This power wheelchair has an ergonomic design for better seating comfort and weighs 75 pounds.
It has a maximum carrying capacity is 330 pounds. This wheelchair has a manual option also and has hand brakes that makes it easy to operate for the attendant. The model comes with large rear wheels of 16 inches compared to standard rear wheel size of 13 inches.
On the downside, it comes with only one battery. Which means that you might want to have a spare battery, in case your primary battery gives you trouble or dies down on you.
- Ergonomic design gives better seating comfort
- Good cushioning on the backrest and seat as well as head rest
- 2 x 500 W dual motor powered technology gives stability and power
- Adjustable leg rests along with adjustable recliner offers a full range of body posture
- Good shock absorbing systems on front and rear wheels
- Good ground clearance with larger wheels
- Slightly on the heavier side and users may find it difficult to store away and carry along while travelling by air
- Comes with only one battery; You may want to budget for back up battery
You must ensure to firmly lock the backrest of your wheelchair in place after inclining it, to avoid any surprises. Otherwise, on rough terrains it may gradually go down causing discomfort. Finally, all the above wheelchairs are FDA cleared. However, your peace of mind is very important after buying a device. You will always do well to focus on safety features, standards of manufacturing and the customer service and support network of the product, while making a buying decision.