Sports wheelchairs are designed for athletic activities and come in various designs. They are lightweight, have a low center of gravity, angled wheels, and straps for security. Custom chairs are available for professional athletes, and some sports have standards for competition. Charitable organizations provide assistance for those who cannot afford a sports wheelchair.
A sports wheelchair is a wheelchair designed for use in athletic activities. There are a number of design issues to consider when developing a sports wheelchair, including maneuverability, center of gravity, and athlete comfort. As with other wheelchairs, people usually have a wheelchair assembly done when they’re ready to buy, so they can get professional help choosing a chair and adjusting it to fit your needs. A sports coach may also be present to discuss issues and needs specific to the athlete’s sport.
Many sports, including extreme sports, can be practiced in a wheelchair; wheelchair users compete in marathons, play basketball and participate in curling events, to name just three examples. Wheelchairs designed for specific sports are available, along with general athletic chairs that people can use in a variety of activities. For professional wheelchair athletes, custom chairs with special design features are available.
A typical sports wheelchair is light in weight, making it easy to handle, and may break in transit. The chair often has a low center of gravity to reduce the risk of spills, along with angled wheels for better balance and control. Straps are available for athletes who want to be securely fastened to their chairs, a common need for dance and extreme sports. The sports wheelchair is very sensitive and allows the user to perform sharp turns, flips and other tricky moves while using the chair. The armrest and footrest can be reduced or non-existent, and in the case of amputee chairs, a support basket can be installed for greater stability and comfort.
For some sports, there are standards for people to compete professionally, and chairs that do not meet those standards cannot be used in competition. This is designed to keep athletes safe while limiting unfair advantages, just as can be seen with standards for other sporting equipment. Judges may request chair inspections to confirm that the equipment is appropriate for the sport, and sports teams may be issued chairs by their sponsors for uniformity.
A number of charitable organizations provide assistance in the assembly and purchase of sports wheelchairs for people who cannot afford to buy a sports wheelchair, but wish to participate in wheelchair sports. Such chairs are typically not covered by government insurance or assistance, and can be expensive to maintain and repair. Individuals who need help purchasing a sports wheelchair can contact a local disability sports organization for more information and assistance program referrals.