The centre of gravity determines how tippy or responsive a wheelchair is and can be adjusted to suit your body weight and size, wheelchair skills and core strength.
The centre of gravity is not linked to a specific brand of wheelchair and if the wheelchair is adjustable it will have a full range so you can move the wheels back or forward. The further back the wheels are the ‘less tippy’ and harder it will be to pull a wheelie and the further forward (under your bum) they are the more responsive and easier it will be. With the wheels further forward it’s not just about making a wheelie easier the chair overall is easier to turn on the spot and the wheels are better in line which your arms to self propel. (If you see the video I did with Amy here you’ll notice how bad here original NHS supplied wheelchair was and where the wheels were in relation to her body and how difficult it made the wheelchair to use).
It’s about getting a balance and looking at the user and chair set-up overall to determine the correct set-up for them. For example if you had a high level spinal cord injury your core strength and ability to pull yourself forwards (to bring the front caster wheels back down you have to pull the rear wheels back and ideally lean forwards) would be limited so you would want to look at ensuring the chair was not too tippy that you had the chance of going out backwards (not good, from experience!).
In the video below it shows a Kuschall K-Series 2.0 and as you can see you have several holes for the centre of gravity to be moved and this is pre-set from the factory. The good news however with an adjustable chair such as the K-Series is can be easily altered at a later too with an allen key. This is also great if you are a new wheelchair user and for the first few months whilst you are getting used to pushing a chair you have the centre of gravity further back and then later down the like when you are more confident you could move the wheels forward.
Here at Invictus Active we can ensure the set-up is right for you and help with all the custom aspects of a new wheelchair – book an appointment to visit us here or call us for any advice.
Video and blog by Scott, co-found of Invictus Active and wheelchair user following spinal cord injury.