How to Fold a Wheelchair for Easy Transportation
Author: Nicholas Sutedja Date Posted:23 February 2023
Love to travel out of town, abroad, or simply love spending time out and about with your friends? Sometimes, a lightweight wheelchair is required for travel — one that can easily fold down into a car's boot or public transportation's storage compartment.
The good news is most manual wheelchairs and motorised wheelchairs fold and unfold the same way for easy storage! This article shares a few basic tips on how to fold a wheelchair for transport — read on.
How To Fold A Wheelchair
Learning how to fold a wheelchair for the first time? It’s actually very easy! So long as you keep the following steps in mind, folding a wheelchair will become second nature to you. If you have any trouble, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions — while most wheelchairs fold and unfold the same way, small variations might get in the way.
- Lock the brakes.
To ensure the wheelchair doesn’t roll away while you’re folding it, lock the brakes. Most wheelchairs have small levers located in front of the rear wheels.
- Fold the footplates and armrests to the side.
Grabbing the footplates from the front, push the left footplate to the left and the right to the right. Do the same with the armrests (or skip this step if there are no armrests on the chair).
- Unlock the brace.
Pull the brace upward to unlock it and get the chair ready to fold. Skip this step if your wheelchair doesn’t have a brace.
- Grab onto the seat from the front and back to fold it.
Stand in front of the wheelchair and hold the seat firmly from the front and back. From here, you can lift the seat slowly towards the middle to fold the wheelchair. As you do this, the wheels will move closer together. If the chair isn’t moving, apply more pressure to the seat.
- Watch your fingers!
Be sure to keep your fingers away from the folding mechanism and any other moving parts to ensure you don’t pinch yourself.
How To Unfold A Wheelchair
Unfolding a wheelchair is almost as simple as folding it up! Here are a few standard tips for unfolding a wheelchair — however, we always recommend consulting the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Undo the locking bar.
Most wheelchairs have a locking bar that extends from the frame to the cross-braces (the x-shaped support strut between the sides). Pull the bar out to unlock it.
- Stand the wheelchair on its front caster wheels.
Find a flat, level surface so the wheelchair doesn’t fall down, and hold the chair steady on its front caster wheels.
- Push down on one of the wheelchairs’ seat handles.
Hold onto one of the back handles of the chair (the ones you use to guide the wheelchair from behind) and push down on one of the seat’s tube handles opposite the back handle. Press down slowly but firmly to guide the seat down, and once the wheelchair appears unfolded, press down on both sides of the tube handles to check it is completely unfolded.
- Lock the rear wheel brace.
Press down on the metal bar that runs parallel across the rear wheel until you hear it lock into place. Give it a quick shake to ensure it is properly locked. All the while, watch out for your fingers, so you don’t pinch yourself on the mechanisms!
- Lock the wheels.
Engage the main wheel locks to ensure the wheelchair doesn’t roll away before your friend or loved one can take a seat.
How To Fold A Wheelchair Into A Car Boot
Folding a wheelchair into the boot of a car can be tricky, especially if you have a small car like a hatchback or sedan. However, you can utilise a few convenient tricks to make travelling with a wheelchair simpler!
- Reduce the weight of the wheelchair.
Wheelchairs can be heavy sometimes, so we recommend dismantling the footplates and armrests to minimise the risk of back strains and injuries while lifting. NOTE: footplates and armrests are not always removable — it depends on the wheelchair design. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Lock the wheels and position the wheelchair’s handles at the edge of the boot.
Reverse the wheelchair to the open boot so the push handles are over the edge or lip of the boot and lock the wheels. You want to be able to “hook” the handles onto the edge for folding and lifting.
- Lift the wheelchair off the ground to boot level, then flip it and fold it.
Once the push handles are comfortably “hooked” on the edge of the boot, bend your knees and lift the wheelchair off the ground to boot height. Then, turn the wheelchair over onto its side — you should now be holding the front of the frame and the rear wheel, and you should be able to push the wheelchair down into a folded position.
- Slide the wheelchair into the boot.
Once the wheelchair is folded down, slide it into the boot. To avoid scratching your car, we recommended draping a blanket over the edge of the boot during this process.
- Place the footplates and armrests next to the wheelchair in the boot.
If you have removed the armrests and footplates, place them in the boot next to the wheelchair to ensure you don’t damage the wheelchair’s frame in transit.
Find A Light, Convenient Folding Wheelchair Online At Active Mobility!
Planning a holiday and need a light, easy-to-use wheelchair that folds down for transport? Then shop online at Active Mobility! As one of Australia’s top mobility equipment providers, we stock a huge range of lightweight, folding wheelchairs in both manual and motorised configurations. Plus, we offer fast and affordable delivery throughout Australia so that you can shop from the comfort of your home.
Alternatively, book an appointment at our showroom and see your new wheelchair in person before purchasing. Our friendly team will provide helpful wheelchair design recommendations and even show you how to fold a wheelchair in-store, so you’re prepared for your next big adventure.