How To Fold A Wheelchair (Manual, Electric) 3 Easy Steps

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First-timers always struggle with how to fold a wheelchair. I could do it instantly, but I had to learn how to.

Folded wheelchairs are much easier to transport, even if they are still a little cumbersome. How do you, as a first-timer, learn how to fold a wheelchair quickly?

Key Takeaways

  • Folding a basic wheelchair involves pushing the wheelchair seat, so the rear wheels fold together like an accordion.
  • Chairs in the rigid wheelchair category don’t fold in the conventional style. Their quick-release axle allows for the removal of the wheels.
  • Folding a wheelchair makes it easier to transport or store it.

How to Fold a Foldable Manual Wheelchair- Step-By-Step Guide

Wheelchairs are one of the most prevalent assistive devices for many people with disabilities in the US (2).

Manual wheelchairs account for most of these wheelchairs. Of those, another good number are foldable wheelchairs.

So how do you fold that type of wheelchair? Here is how:

Step 1

Seat the wheelchair on an even surface and remove the seat cushion. Remember the up and bottom sides of the cushion when removing it.

Step 2

Engage the wheel lock. Most wheelchair models have levers on their rear wheels that will help you lock the wheels.

Locking the wheels makes it easier to fold the wheelchair by holding it in place.

Step 3

Stand with the wheelchair before, grab the seat with your other hand at the wheelchair’s rear and pull slowly.

The wheelchair seat should go up as the wheels move toward each other. Raise the wheelchair seat until the chair folds like an accordion.

Some wheelchairs usually have a folding handle next to the wheelchair seat. If there’s one, use it to raise the middle of the wheelchair seat.

With that, you’ll have successfully folded the wheelchair. It will now be ready for transportation.

Here is a 1-minute video that shows you how to raise the wheelchair seat and fold the wheelchair:

CHECK: The 10 Most Comfortable Manual Wheelchair Review

Would the same procedure apply to a foldable power chair? Almost but not quite. Here is how to fold a folding electric wheelchair.

How to Fold an Electric Wheelchair?

Step 1

Locate the lock lever on the chair’s lower back and lift it.

Step 2

Grab the backrest with one hand and the seat with the other and pull them together. That will fold the folding electric wheelchair. Simple again!

Here is a barely 2-minute video showing how to do that.

While there are many types of wheelchairs, the process is usually near identical.

Some seats will need you to remove the leg rests and other wheelchair accessories before folding them. Others will only require you to push the leg rests out of the way.

How to Unfold a Wheelchair?

Once you get to your location with your folded wheelchair, you’ll need to unfold it. Here is how to go about it:

Step 1

Stand before the wheelchair after placing it on an even surface.

Step 2

Use your hands to push down the seat until it assumes the usual wheelchair seat position.

Step 3

Ensure the wheels are locked and the seat poles are inside the frame folding mechanism.

With that, you’ll have unfolded a wheelchair. That wasn’t too hard, was it?

Below is a short video showing you how to fold a wheelchair.

Are All Wheelchairs Foldable?

Most portable wheelchairs are foldable since they have an easy-to-fold frame design. Their X-frame design makes folding possible.

foldable wheelchair but how to fold a wheelchair

However, rigid wheelchairs are considered unfoldable thanks to the unconventional frame.

An unfoldable wheelchair is a type that won’t collapse into an accordion-like structure once fully folded.

Rigid wheelchair designs need you to remove most of their parts to make them easier to transport(1).

How to Fold a Rigid Wheelchair?

The rigid wheelchair design isn’t like that of other manual wheelchairs. So the folding mechanism here differs from what you would expect.

Rigid chairs have easy-to-remove components and wheels to ease the transportation process.

Here is how to unfold rigid-frame wheelchairs;

Step 1

First, remove the wheelchair’s cushion and locate the spring control behind the backrest.

Step 2

Pull the control to collapse the backrest onto the wheelchair seat.

Step 3

Remove the rear wheels by pushing the button in the center. Rigid frame chairs have wheels with quick-release axles. The axles allow you to remove the wheels quickly enough.

Step 4

Once you’ve removed the wheels, the rigid-frame wheelchair will be ready for transport. To unfold it, reverse the above steps.

For a better look at how to unfold a rigid wheelchair, see this 2-minute video

What Are the Benefits of a Folding Wheelchair?

The most significant reason you’d want a folding wheelchair is for the ease of transportation. Most people don’t have that much space in their cars.

Hence, most wheelchair users want a portable wheelchair because they can quickly fold. A Portable wheelchair is less of a hustle to transport if you can fold it.

Foldable wheelchairs also easily fit into the most complex of seating systems. Finally, they’re the best option if you need an inexpensive chair.

FAQs

How can I quickly fold a wheelchair?

To fold a wheelchair quickly, push up the seat with both hands and lift it till the rear wheels fold.

Do all wheelchairs fold up?

Not all wheelchairs can fold up. Chairs in the rigid wheelchair category can’t fold up and need you to disassemble them.

How quickly can I fold a pediatric folding wheelchair?

Pediatric folding wheelchairs are just like any other folding frame wheelchairs. It will take you up to five minutes to fold them thoroughly.

Conclusion

Knowing how to fold a wheelchair is one of those things that might seem complicated but is quite simple.

Hopefully, you’ve seen how easy it is to fold the assistive device for storage or transport.

Planning those trips will be effortless if making your chair ready takes minutes!

a foldable wheelchair but how to fold a wheelchair

Have a faster way to fold a wheelchair? Please share with us in the comments!

Resources

  • 1. Blauch C, Cooper R, Ammer W, Mccartney M, Corfman T. Assistive Technology 27. The design of a forward folding ultralight wheelchair [Internet]. Crystal Gateway Marriott. 2002. Available from: https://www.rehab.research.va.gov/va/02/pdf/assistive.pdf
  • 2. Kaye HS, Kang T, LaPlante MP. Mobility Device Use in the United States [Internet]. Google Books. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education; 2000 [cited 2022 Nov 21]. Available from: https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GAguAAAAMAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR4&dq=number+of+wheelchairs+in+the+United+States&ots=fm41JTLHjD&sig=upTtxTZJndneqNKC-mGLAvoXEdw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=number%20of%20wheelchairs%20in%20the%20United%20States&f=false
About Haley Burress

Haley has been working with seniors and their caregivers for more than 17 years. She has held local and national leadership roles in a variety of senior services and senior care agencies. Today, she is a sought after writer specializing in topics for older adults, their family members, and professional caregivers. When she isn't at her computer sipping coffee, you can find her hiking with her husband, son, and dog or trying a new cookie recipe in the kitchen. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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