Unlike a conventional wheelchair, a reclining wheelchair has a tall backrest that is adjustable. Recliners commonly have padded leg rests and headrests, though not all models come standard with these features. Below, we compare the cost, back height, seat depth and weight capacities of our favorite reclining wheelchairs.
As you compare reclining wheelchairs, pay attention to features that maximize comfort and safety. Most chairs typically come with a padded seat and armrests. However, some are more generously padded than others. Convenience might also be a factor for you. If so, look for models that are lightweight and easily fold for transport.
Anti-tipping features: Anti-tippers protrude from underneath the frame of the chair in the back, which helps stop the chair from tipping backward. Many reclining wheelchairs come with anti-tippers installed.
Adjustability: The degree of adjustability varies from partial- to full-reclining. (For reference, 90 degrees is upright and 180 degrees is horizontal). Some reclining wheelchairs “tilt in space,” meaning the whole chair shifts position by 30 or 60 degrees while maintaining a 90-degree angle for knees and hips. Others have a reclining back that can lay completely flat.
Leg rests: Many models come with swing-away leg rests or elevated footplates. We suggest looking for leg rests with padding for extra comfort.
Headrests: Headrests and extenders help support the head and neck. Some recliner headrests are upholstered with antimicrobial fabrics or additional cushioning.
Removable armrests: Some reclining wheelchairs offer removable armrests, making it easier to perform bed transfers when the chair is fully reclined. Removable armrests also make access easier for caregivers.
Hydraulic assist: Hydraulic assist makes it easier to control the backrest position and fine-tune the angle of recline.
Our top reclining wheelchair picks
We considered more than 35 reclining wheelchairs and narrowed the choices based on customer reviews to find our top picks. Below, we compare the cost, materials, seat depth, back of chair height and weight capacity of our favorite models.
1. Drive Medical Silver Sport Reclining Wheelchair
The Drive Medical Silver Sport reclining wheelchair comes with detachable arms and padded swing-away leg rests. This model also features a hydraulic adjustment mechanism and can recline up to 180 degrees. The desk-length armrests are removable and also extend for support in a fully reclined position. We also like that this chair comes with anti-tippers.
The ProBasics Standard reclining wheelchair comes with padded and detachable desk-length arms and an elevating leg rest. The chair reclines up to 160 degrees, and the vinyl upholstery is resistant to bacteria and mildew. With an extension, the back height is adjustable up to 34 inches. We also like that ProBasics provides a limited lifetime warranty.
The Healthline Recliner folding wheelchair comes with a headrest extension and cushioned head immobilizer. It also has padded swing-away elevating leg rests, footplates and rear anti-tippers. The hydraulic reclining mechanism lets you make adjustments up to 180 degrees. The chair has padded armrests for added comfort.
The McKesson reclining wheelchair features a swing-away elevating footrest with metal plates. It also comes with detachable padded desk-length arms, nylon upholstery and durable urethane tires. The backrest reclines up to 180 degrees.
The Invacare Tracer SX5 features a carbon steel frame and heavy-duty inner liner. It also comes with desk-length arms and leg rests. It reclines to 180 degrees, and the leg rests are padded. Anti-tippers, no-flex wheels and 14-gauge cross braces are included. Financing is available through Amazon.
This Everest & Jennings reclining wheelchair adjusts from 90 to 170 degrees. The chair features a removable headrest, anti-tippers and an anti-folder spreader bar for added safety and comfort. This model comes with a choice of fixed desk-length or fixed full-length armrests. A bariatric version that can support up to 450 pounds is also available.
The Karman Healthcare VIP-515-TP-18 is a foldable tilt-in-space reclining transport wheelchair. This model has a tilt range of zero to 35 degrees. It features footrests that swing in and away, flip-back armrests and adjustable height. The chair’s upholstery is antimicrobial to prevent odor, staining and bacteria growth. It can be folded for transport, and its frame is made from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum. The chair weighs 38 pounds in manual propel mode. Financing is available with 0% interest for those who qualify for an Amazon Store Card.
The Viper Plus GT is a fully reclining wheelchair with detachable desk arms. Its 20-inch seat is made with heavy-gauge nylon upholstery and hook-and-loop fastener straps. The back angle adjusts from five to 20 degrees. It comes with a dual axle and urethane rear tires. It weighs less than 32 pounds, excluding front rigging. Financing is available.
This Nova recliner wheelchair comes with detachable full-length arms and elevating leg rests. We like its foldable design, which makes it easy to transport. Plus, the frame is covered in flame-retardant vinyl upholstery. According to Nova, you should note that the numbers for weight, back height from the seat and overall height includes the headrest.
Reclining wheelchairs have benefits for both patients and their caregivers. The ability to lean back and adjust the position helps with blood pressure and circulation. The reclined position can be more comfortable, especially for those with hip and back injuries, because body weight is more evenly distributed.
The flexibility to adjust the chair eases bed transfers and allows the user to change positions to distribute body weight, increase circulation and relieve pressure. For caregivers, reclining wheelchairs make it easier to assist with hygiene and waste.
Reclining wheelchair FAQ
How much does a reclining wheelchair cost?
The cost of standard reclining wheelchairs starts at around $300. Tilt-in-space reclining wheelchair prices are higher, starting at around $1,000.
How does a reclining wheelchair work?
A tilt-reclining wheelchair redistributes pressure to the lower back and helps prevent pressure sores. The backrest lets you recline at incremental angles; some go all the way down to a position parallel with a bed. A reclining wheelchair has manual adjustment levers, usually behind the backrest, which means someone else has to adjust it while the user is sitting in it. Some reclining wheelchairs include a lever on the side so the user can control it.
How much does a reclining wheelchair weigh?
Reclining wheelchairs weigh anywhere from 30 to 70 pounds. Some models feature ultra-lightweight materials and weigh less.
Where can you buy a reclining wheelchair?
Reclining wheelchairs are available for sale from many online retailers. You can also purchase one from a medical supplier or mobility specialty store in your area.
Will Medicare pay for a reclining wheelchair?
Maybe. Medicare Part B covers the cost of wheelchairs as durable medical equipment. Copays apply.
Can you buy used reclining wheelchairs?
Yes, you can buy used wheelchairs. A local mobility specialty store might also be able to help with the purchase of a used reclining wheelchair. Amazon and eBay also offers used reclining wheelchairs for sale.
Are all reclining wheelchairs manual?
Reclining wheelchairs are typically manually powered, not electric. A few power wheelchair models have reclining features.
How does a tilt-in-space wheelchair differ from a reclining back wheelchair?
“Tilt in space” means the whole chair shifts position by 30 or 60 degrees while maintaining a 90-degree angle for knees and hips. On a reclining back wheelchair, the backrest of the chair is adjustable from 90 to 180 degrees.
Bottom line: Are reclining wheelchairs worth it?
A reclining wheelchair adds a level of adjustability not found on conventional wheelchairs. Though they might be more expensive and cumbersome to transport, it could be worth it for a loved one’s comfort. The features of a reclining wheelchair can also ease assistance for caregivers. Next, read about how to find the best wheelchair lifts for cars.
As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.
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