HomeVA ProstheticsVA Handbook 1173.6 - Wheelchairs and Special Mobility AidsClassification of Commercial Source Wheelchairs

6.3. Classification of Commercial Source Wheelchairs

Commercial source wheelchairs are classified as follows:

a. Amputee Wheelchair. An Amputee Wheelchair is a commercially-manufactured wheelchair in which the rear axles are offset further to the rear to shift the center of gravity for greater weight balance or stability, thereby compensating for the loss of the lower extremities.

b. Basic Wheelchair. A basic wheelchair is a manual wheelchair with 8 inch front wheels and usually 24 inch hard rubber rear wheels but with minimal modification possibilities. It is a basic, inexpensive wheelchair that needs to be stocked at each medical center and outpatient clinic in suitable quantities to satisfy immediate needs.

c. Custom Wheelchair. A custom wheelchair is a wheelchair produced on the assembly line in accordance with a prescription, which requires structural changes and specialized seating requirements, e.g., increased height.

d. Lightweight or Ultralite Wheelchair. A lightweight or ultralite wheelchair is any wheelchair constructed of aluminum, titanium, plastic, or other light weight material, etc. These wheelchairs may fold or have rigid frames. NOTE: Numerous colors are available, as well as optional choices in front rigging and front and rear wheels.

e. Manual Wheelchair. A manual wheelchair is a generic term for wheelchairs that are propelled by hand.

f. Pushrim-Activated Power-Assist Wheelchairs (PAPAW). PAPAWs require users to stroke the hand rims to activate small, lightweight motors, which then drive the wheels for a brief period of time (seconds). To keep a PAPAW moving, users must continue to stroke the hand rims as they would if they were propelling standard manual wheelchairs.

g. Motorized Wheelchair. A motorized wheelchair is any wheelchair modified to be self- propelled by the use of an electric motor. It is designed to compensate for a patient's inability to use a manual wheelchair. NOTE: Batteries and a battery charger are necessary components.

h. Enhanced Function Power Wheelchairs. The term "enhanced function power wheelchair" refers to power wheelchairs with augmented capacities such as the ability to change the user's vertical position in space (elevate, go low to ground), stand, access multiple inhospitable terrains, and/or climb stairs.

i. Scooters (3 or 4 wheel). Three or four wheel scooters are any electrically-motorized mobility device guided by a tiller with limited seat modification capabilities for use by persons who are unable to propel a manual wheelchair, but who retain the ability to independently transfer onto and off of the device. Scooters are for patients who are able to negotiate their home environment without powered mobility, but who require powered mobility outside the home.

j. Sports Model Wheelchair. A sports model wheelchair is any wheelchair which is specifically built for sports activities, e.g., basketball, track, tennis, etc. Handcycles or handbikes fall into this category.

k. Stock Wheelchair. A stock wheelchair is a wheelchair available from a manufacturer not requiring modification, but includes special features, e.g., removable arms, elevating leg rests, adjustable height and back, one-arm drive, etc. It may vary in size and weight.


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