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Oxford Centre for Enablement (OCE)

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Types of wheelchair

For advice, or a user manual for your wheelchair, please contact our Wheelchair Maintenance Service.

Basic manual

This is a steel framed wheelchair either with either large wheels for self-propulsion or small wheels if someone else is going to push. These are our standard provision for outdoor only use or for occasional/limited indoor and outdoor use.

Many people ask us for a lightweight version of this wheelchair for lifting into a vehicle. Unfortunately we are unable to supply anything lighter for basic provision; however, you are entitled to the value of this wheelchair to put towards an upgrade within the NHS range or to purchase privately - see personal wheelchair budgets.

Medium lightweight manual

These are designed for those users who are dependent on their wheelchair for the vast majority of their mobility and are able to self-propel. They are aluminium framed and have a wider range of options on their design. Your clinician will complete a prescription to ensure your equipment meets your needs.

It is usually possible to remove the rear wheels, armrests and footplates to reduce the overall weight of the chair, for example when lifting into a vehicle. Your clinician can show you how to do this, or you can refer to your user manual. Not all of our wheelchairs have this facility, and it will depend upon your eligibility - we are unable to provide lightweight wheelchairs for the benefit of a carer to lift.

Active user

These wheelchairs are designed for clients who are able to self-propel independently. They are often rigid framed and compact in design to enable an active lifestyle.

Tilt in space manual

These wheelchairs are for clients who are fully dependent on their wheelchair for all mobility indoors and outdoors and also require a considerable degree of support to help them sit in their wheelchair.

The tilt in space function allows the wheelchair seating to be tipped back within the frame of the chair to allow them to accept the support of the chair better than when in a fully upright position. These are generally attendant propelled due to their size and weight. They do not fold to put in a car.


There is a range of electric wheelchairs from the very basic through to those with powered tilt and postural support. These are only available to clients who require them for both indoor and outdoor mobility.

Your clinician will assess your eligibility on the basis of your mobility requirements, home environment compatibility and medical background. There are some exemptions - please see our eligibility criteria.

To put a powered wheelchair into manual mode, check for a lever or hub to turn on the back of the motors on either side of the chair. This will be towards the back, either in front of or behind the rear wheels. It will depend on the model of chair - please refer to the user manual if in doubt.

Specialist buggies

These are usually supplied for children over the age of 30 months who are unable to use a standard buggy. Specialist buggies may be supplied under 30 months if it is not possible to offer adequate postural support in a standard buggy.

Last reviewed:12 April 2022