Specialty Wheelchairs: How to Get Off Road


Using a wheelchair as your primary means of getting around does not mean that there aren't ways to move through more tough terrain while still using a chair-type of device. In the past decade, many advances have been made to improve the ability of people using wheelchairs to get out and do the things they want to outdoors. This article will help shed light on some of these options. 

Power assist wheels

This accessory isn't actually a special type of chair but, instead, a special type of wheel that can aid  in the propulsion of a manual wheelchair. These types of wheels are battery or electric power and can replace the normal wheels of a standard wheelchair. When a person pushes the wheel forward, it takes the force of the push and amplifies it, resulting in a stronger push that lasts for a longer distance. These types of wheels are typically used for people with somewhat weak arms that benefit from some extra strength due to fatigue over longer distances. 

All terrain wheelchairs

All terrain wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories come in many different forms and can be used for different activities.

For some people, an all terrain manual wheelchair could be a great asset to their daily activities because it could allow them to go off pavement without the worry of sinking into soft ground or becoming stuck.


People who enjoy hunting may benefit from learning more about available resources to both move around the outdoor environment and to set up their chairs for holding guns, bows, etc. A great resource for hunting activities can be found here.

One of the most heavy duty, rugged chairs made today is the Tankchair, made by TC Mobility in Phoenix, AZ.

These custom chairs boast a variety of accessory options. The TC Mobility website also states, "Tankchair is an all-weather design which is extremely durable and capable of conquering sand, snow, gravel, rocks and mud. The wide footprint and aggressive tread enables the chair to climb a grade of 10%." Other similar devices can be found on the Action Track Chair website. These mobility device could work for persons seeking adventure outdoor experiences whose medical condition does not prevent tolerance of their bodies moving around in the seating surface over rough terrain as in persons experiencing pressure sores. 

For beach-goers, wheelchairs do not have to be the limiting factor to getting some sun and feeling the sea breeze. One possible option could get a person out on the beach much more easily. 

Sporting chairs

The world of adaptive sports is evolving and changing at a fast rate, leading to more options for mobility for certain types of activities. Please see the Disabled Sports USA website for sport specific details.

There are a few different considerations to take into account when thinking about trying to incorporate specialty chairs and equipment into your life as a wheelchair user. These chairs (aside from the power assist wheels on standard chairs) are not meant to be your primary mode of transportation. Prior to the purchase of any of these type of chairs, it is important that you work with your doctor and therapist on obtaining the best chair for your every-day mobility. It is also helpful to know that insurance companies will typically only pay for one wheelchair every 5 to 10 years so most of these alternative chairs will be purchased out of pocket unless another source of funding is available (such as in the Veterans system or through scholarship). Although sometimes difficult to obtain for these reasons, these chairs can make a huge difference in a person's quality of life. 

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