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The type of wheelchair footrest people should use usually depends mostly on the reason they need to use the chair itself. Some footrests fold back beneath the chair to make it easier for a person to stand. Other individual footrests swing out and fold up to make the chair easier to store in small places. Most chairs have mechanisms that allow the footrests to be quickly removed, to make it easier to store and transport the chair. Other styles are designed for certain medical needs. The type of wheelchair and the user's condition should be considered before purchasing a wheelchair footrest.
A wheelchair footrest is also sometimes called a front rigging, and can affect how easy it is to move the chair in tight spaces. Some rigid chair designs have a foldable wheelchair footrest. This allows the foot platforms to be folded up and out of the way. The footrests themselves are not removable and don't swing to the side, so the chair is sturdier overall. Chairs of this type can be difficult to maneuver and fit into a car trunk or van because of the larger frame.
People who don't need to be able to elevate their legs while in the chair can use a standard, two-piece wheelchair footrest that is movable. The swing-away footrest allows each side to swing out of the way, to make it easy for the person to stand. Someone who doesn't need to elevate his legs might find these the most convenient choice. In most cases, these footrests are completely removable and interchangeable, depending on the brand of wheelchair.
A reclining wheelchair footrest is also available for people who need to be able to elevate their legs while in the chair. These models typically come with a wheelchair leg-rest that supports the calves while the legs are elevated. People who have problems with leg and ankle swelling, and lower body circulation, can benefit from this type of wheelchair equipment. Most leg-rest models have padding to make them more comfortable against the calves. An articulating wheelchair footrest is another option for people who want to be able to put their feet in a few different positions between down and completely elevated.
Most new manual wheelchairs can accept a variety of footrest makes and models, as well as many other interchangeable wheelchair accessories. People looking for wheelchair parts for an old or used wheelchair might have the most difficult time finding the right model. Some of the older styles and methods of attaching footrests are obsolete. People in this situation should check with the chair manufacturer for compatible footrest brands. Active-user and racing wheelchairs, as well as electric power chairs, typically have footrests that are manufactured specifically for each individual chair.