Wheelchair Handrims

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Traditionally, handrims on lightweight and ultralight weight wheelchairs consist of a metal hoop rigidly mounted to the wheel. A flexible handrim consisting of high friction urethane spanning between a standard tubular handrim and the wheel has been developed. The urethane takes the shape of the hand when gripping (Richter et al., 2006).

Table: Wheelchair Handrims


Richter et al. (2006) investigated finger and wrist flexor activity when using a flexible handrim as compared to a standard handrim.  Twenty four subjects pushed their own wheelchairs on a level surface and at 3 and 6 degree grades using both types of handrims. Use of the flexible handrim significantly reduced wrist and finger flexor activity when averaged across all grade conditions. This suggests that over a period of years flexible handrims may be a factor in preserving upper extremity health.


There is level 4 evidence (from one case series study; Richter et al. 2006) that a flexible handrim will reduce wrist and finger flexor activity during wheelchair propulsion.

  • Use of flexible handrims may reduce upper extremity strain during wheelchair propulsion.