Power Wheelchair VS. Manual Wheelchair!!!

Yo yo yo, what it do? I'm just kidding, was that a fail? Right... Well I was thinking the other day about my wheelchair and while it's fairly new I hate it, haha. The reason I was thinking about it is because one of my brakes actually shifted so that I can't lock my right wheel. To tell the truth I never really use my brakes anyways (all of my therapists are going to trip over that, use your brakes people!) but I do use them to transfer to my bed and into cars and putting a shirt behind my wheel isn't cutting it, seriously sketchy. By the way, this is why I haven't put any tutorial videos up. While it hasn't happened yet how funny would it be if I was showing a how to transfer video my chair moved and I just ate it.

Back to the topic, early into your injury you're going to have to choose  a wheelchair and while there are literally a million options out there it is essentially going to come down to either a power wheelchair or a manual push wheelchair. Also, depending on your injury level you might not have a choice but don't let me tell you that you can or can't do something. You just have to think it through everything you do is going to take longer to do, at least at the beginning, so take that into account and the higher your injury was the less function that you're going to have to work with. I can only speak for myself as a c5 c6 level quad but here are some pros and cons in case your choosing or planning on switching.


I started out with one of these that the hospital lent me. These chairs are great for comfort. Also, if you need to do a weight shift to avoid pressure sores you simply have to push a button and your chair tilts back which is also great if you just want to recline to relax or take a nap. Also, their fast.. No matter how hard I'll push I'm not going to catch you and you don't exactly tire out from pushing a joystick. Depending on where you live you might enjoy the fact that these chairs can easily go downhill and uphill, I live in central florida so that's not a problem. You can definitely be independent in a power chair and they're all terrain if you live in the open. My first therapists urged me to get one because they worried I would overwork my shoulders pushing a manual since I don't have working triceps to help me push.

The problem with the power chair comes in its size. Once you're out of the comfort of your home the world isn't always made for you. In my current apartment there's no way I could navigate a power chair too comfortably between the halls and doorways. You also cant exactly put it in the trunk of a car let alone lift it. You either call a bus which takes planning and time or you buy a van until you're able to get a car you can drive yourself. I personally did not enjoy going to restaurants and there not being a table tall enough for my chair or having people have to stop what they were doing to accommodate me. It was frustrating and embarrassing but the trick is to keep your head high. You can't get mad over things you can't control, I got over it, my confidence took a hit but it didn't falter. Even in a wheelchair I'm still the cockiest guy I know. What other people think does not matter, they can seriously.... Ooooooh.


During my stay in Atlanta, Georgia for rehab I saw a guy with my level injury in a manual chair and he was already independent there was no turning back. These chairs are sleek and significantly smaller and lighter. Even if you can't push one you can get push handles! BOOM! Hope I didn't just blow your mind there. When it comes to maneuvering you can easily move around people. I tested it out at the sunfest festival in west palm beach it was packed!.. with some 'classy' ladies. Lets just say I was at the right height. (hey you can always use your power chair like a battling ram in these situations) I can't afford a car or van yet but with the manual chair I can easily transfer into a normal car and whoever drives just folds up my chair and throws it in the back. Restaurants are also easier to do since these chairs can easily slide under tables, bars are a whole other problem ha! Personally I feel full independence is reached a tad bit faster in this type of chair because you just get stronger faster. This, though, leads me to the... *drumroll*

Cons! Faster is not easier and the push chairs can be a hassle to get used to for a low level quadriplegic. When I first got mine I was stubborn because everyone was telling me to use the power chair (I obviously didn't listen). I literally was moving like a foot ever five minutes. I was really really weak from the injury. It took me a while to even get a steady push going but for stuff I have control over I got some serious patience. It'll take a while though, your body just tires out and you end up hitting the sack way early. There will be more than a few months of seriously sore neck, back and shoulder muscles but the more you stick to it the stronger these muscles will get, I promise.. It can get pretty brutal at first when  it's just tiring to hold your head up and even now I still have trouble going up certain inclines but being involved in wheelchair sports is helping with that.

Also, your first manual chair is going to suck, it's inevitable. You just won't know enough info about it. Each injury is different and it'll take a while to tweak out your chair so that it best suits your body. Balance is also important since you can't just press a button to tilt the chair you have so make sure the chair you have gets the seat adjusted so your're not sitting straight up and falling forwards, stay on top of your chair stuff seeing as how you're the one that has to sit on it.

Whichever chair you get just make sure your comfortable and it looks good so you can holla at the ladies. Or dudes I guess.


  1. Your positive spirit is just so admirable, Luis. Selecting the best wheelchair for you takes time. There are a lot of factors to consider, some of them are maneuverability, durability, and comfort. The criteria basically depend on your condition. And yeah, you have to look good in it, so you can hit the girls/guys with it! LOL. =)

    -Thomas Wright

  2. Yo Luis you are bad ass!! I'm a c6-c7 quad out in LaLa land aka Los Angeles and have been injured since 12/07. I enjoy the way you love life and have helped others. I'm a big quad before my accident I stood 6'7" 300lbs (yeah I was on swool) my motorized chair was so big some doors I could not fit through. When I got my manual chair I got more freedom and strength.
    holla back at yeah boy in Cali

  3. I found this great website to help you compare products and brands: http://www.medicalexpo.com/medical-manufacturer/wheelchair-2081.html

  4. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Power Wheelchair Cost

    Keep Posting:)

  5. Hi,

    Confusing of choosing a good wheelchair for you? I consider this very useful product www.portashopper.com.au to help you transported easily when you need to visit your doctor or to explore your environments.

  6. This is an excellent comparison between Power Wheelchair and Manual Wheelchair. But there are some important points that should have to be taken while purchasing. It should be designed in such a way to go up an incline or have a good climbing degree. Make sure you never go over the weight capacity, which is at least 20 to 30 lbs.

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  8. I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from Regal Mobility.



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Meet The Author

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Hey! Welcome to my blog. My name is Luis Gonzales. I have made this Page to share my experiences. When I was 21 I suffered A diving accident that left me paralyzed from the chest down. Technically speaking my injury is at the C-5 and C-6 vertebraes. There was so much to learn during the first few years but to be honest wether you are getting used to life in a wheelchair or just Life in general the learning process never stops. Hopefully my experiences can help those who are searching for answers. At the very least maybe brighten your day. I'm a very positive person and if you're trying to make yourself a little more independent than you were yesterday in any form I am always happy to help in whatever way I can. If you need to contact me you can use any of the social media devices I am on. You can find all those links at the top left corner of this page. Have a great day. Si es mas fácil... Aunque yo no escribo en español si lo puedo hablar.