Bariatric Wheelchair: Benefits & Everything You Need to Know

Written by GrigorinaLoa
Last Updated :
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For those of us with chronic conditions who need a wheelchair to get around, it’s crucial to know what is a bariatric wheelchair so we can improve the quality of our lives.

A bariatric wheelchair is modified to cater to large sizes and heavy body weights and is a necessary option in the world of wheelchairs.

It is a medical practitioner’s duty to accommodate all physical and emotional needs as part of public health policy, mainly because of increases in US body weights and sizes since the 60s. (1)

Picking the correct wheelchair to support your needs will ensure comfort, mobility, and bodily autonomy.

You can also take a look at these outdoor electric wheelchairs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bariatric wheelchairs are excellent for users with large bodies or heavy weights who exceed the weight capacity of a standard wheelchair.
  • Bariatric wheelchairs give users body autonomy, comfort, and dignity.
  • There are affordable and easily accessible places to purchase bariatric wheelchairs.

What is a Bariatric Wheelchair?

If you have wondered what a bariatric wheelchair is, here is your answer:

A bariatric wheelchair is a heavy-duty wheelchair meant to accommodate large users that weigh above the weight capacity of regular wheelchairs.

Standard wheelchairs have a weight capacity of up to 300 pounds, whereas bariatric wheelchairs can carry approximately 700-1000 pounds. (2)

a bariatric wheelchair on floor

These extra-wide wheelchairs are meant to provide adjustable seat heights, heavy-duty frames, and wider seats for maximum comfort.

They are larger than traditional wheelchairs and can withstand movement despite heavy loads.

These wheelchairs come equipped with more features than a conventional wheelchair.

For instance, they are made for comfort, using vinyl upholstery to comfort users with less upper body strength.

These wheelchairs often ensure the users don’t sink into the chair. In addition to this feature, many come with removable armrests or flexible options.

The arms are meant to support heavy weight if the user needs to get up.

The idea behind such wheelchairs is to help users retain dignity and prioritize their comfort and well-being.

When Should You Use a Bariatric Wheelchair?

The first thing to consider is your comfort and mobility. Think of your current wheelchair and ask yourself these questions:

Is it a lightweight wheelchair meant for someone with a different Body Mass Index (BMI) than you?

Have you gained weight and feel like the chair you’re using is the incorrect fit?

It is possible that you’ve outgrown your wheelchair or that it was never the right fit.

You should use a bariatric wheelchair because they are made of steel, unlike lightweight models and anti-tippers.

It is time to switch to this type of wheelchair if your medical professional has confirmed you are overweight or obese. 

If you’re not sure how to use your wheelchair, I would recommend watching this video:

How Wide is a Bariatric Wheelchair?

Bariatric chairs are more comprehensive than your everyday lightweight chairs.

The bariatric wheelchair’s width ranges from 24 to 33 inches, which is more significant than a standard wheelchair’s 16- to 20-inch seats.

Did you know stretchers, gurneys, beds, chairs, and even commodes require modification for obese users as standard healthcare practice? (3)

Benefits Of Bariatric Wheelchair

Here are some well-known benefits of the bariatric wheelchair.

  • It’s suitable for people with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases because of its adjustable backrest. You can tilt it to breathe better.
  • The chair is aimed to accommodate the user’s center of gravity.
  • The strong upholstery is more comfortable than regular chairs.
  • It is a more resistant chair because its steel build prevents it from breaking.
  • It can help with osteoarthritis and cardiovascular diseases.
  • It is suitable for people with spinal injuries, dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
  • It offers improved access with detachable armrests.

Where To Buy a Bariatric Wheelchair?

Your medical practitioner can likely offer you valuable resources about where to make your purchase.

Most doctors can recommend specialized wheelchairs for your needs.

One easy and accessible option is Walmart. Walmart also offers product protection for additional money and expert help in assembling the chair.

Another option you can consider is Amazon.

The good thing about Amazon is the plethora of reviews left by users that can give information on delivery times, product quality, durability, and more.

Lastly, you can buy wheelchairs from manufacturers that specialize in wheelchair production. Some of the best are listed below.

  1. Excellent Wheel Chairs: They provide all kinds of wheelchairs, from manual wheelchairs to electric, transport, and travel wheelchairs. They also offer stair climbers.
  2. Ottobock: This is a top manufacturer. Athletes in the Paralympics use their wheelchairs.
  3. Permobil: This is also an excellent producer. They have 45 years’ worth of service to their name.


What is the difference between a bariatric wheelchair and a regular wheelchair?

Bariatric wheelchairs are heavy-duty wheelchairs with boosted vinyl upholstery and anti-tipping technology.
They are made of steel and are for overweight and obese users.
Regular wheelchairs support around 300 pounds, whereas bariatric wheelchairs can support up to 1000 pounds.

What are the two types of wheelchairs?

There are four, not two, common types of wheelchairs: Bariatric, ultralight weight, lightweight, and standard.
The distinctions are based on the weight of the chair and the user’s weight.

Which type of wheelchair is easiest to push?

If you want a wheelchair that is easy to push, I recommend travel or transport wheelchairs. The design is aimed at making pushing a more straightforward job.
They have lightweight frames and narrow seats, which makes them maneuverable.

How do you fold a bariatric wheelchair?

Stand at the wheelchair’s front. Take the seat in one hand and the back in another.
Gently lift the seat up. It folds in half by itself, and the wheels will move closer together.


Everyone deserves a well-made wheelchair that caters to comfort and mobility and comes with adjustable features.

What is a bariatric wheelchair? It is a wheelchair made for large users that can bear heavy weights.

a bariatric wheelchair on floor

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve struggled with wheelchair fit and if we’ve helped you choose the correct wheelchair!


  • 1. Wignall D. Design as a Critical Tool in Bariatric Patient Care [Internet]. Sage Journals. 2008. Available from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/193229680800200216
  • 2. The Complete Guide to Bariatric Seating | NBF [Internet]. National Business Furniture. 2022 [cited 2022 Nov 14]. Available from: https://www.nationalbusinessfurniture.com/blog/guide-to-bariatric-seating#:~:text=Most%20bariatric%20chairs%20have%20a
  • 3. Bariatric Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Guidebook: A Resource Guide for Care of Persons of Size [Internet]. The Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals. St. Louis, MO: VHA Center for Engineering & Occupational Safety and Health (CEOSH); 2015 Jul. Available from: https://www.asphp.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Baraiatrice-SPHM-guidebook-care-of-Person-of-Size.pdf

About Author

Grigorina discovered that writing is her vocation early in her school years. Since then, she's taken part in several literary contests. For the past three years, she's also been an ELS teacher, pouring her heart into showing children and adults how important English is for their future. She has a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics, an ESL Teacher's degree, and a Master's degree in Accounting. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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