In a Nutshell:
The Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair is a high-quality, lightweight transport chair designed for children and smaller adults, offered by one of the giants in the mobility industry. Recommended for Children and smaller adults who need a solid, light-duty transport chair.
Ease of Use
Recommended For: Children and smaller adults who need a solid, light-duty transport chair, offered by one of the giants in the mobility industry.
Have you been searching in vain for a good quality smaller chair that can accommodate children, but want something robust enough to grow with them? If so, then you’re going to like what you will see in the review that follows.
In the next sections, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair. It’s a smaller, light-duty transport chair ideally suited for children, yet strong and durable enough to support added weight as they grow older. It’s also ideal for slimmer people of all ages with mobility issues.
While it’s not a perfect chair, it is an absolute game-changer for the right user. We’ll outline everything it can do and make you aware of its limitations and shortcomings, so you can decide for yourself if this is the model you’ve been looking for. If that sounds good to you, let’s jump right in and see what the wheelchair is capable of!
Overview of the Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair
The first thing you’ll note about the wheelchair is its petite size. It’s quite small compared to most other transport chairs on the market today, but then, it’s made for children and smaller adults, so its diminutive size is a plus. Larger chairs just aren’t a good fit for the market.
They tend to swallow the person trying to use them up, and worse, even with a safety belt (which not all transport chairs provide), it’s entirely possible for a smaller person with mobility issues to slide right out of a full-sized chair. Not a happy situation.
Here are the relevant stats for the Pediatric Transport Chair:
At just 19 pounds, this chair is a breeze to transport and will fit into just about any available trunk space. Don’t let its small size and light weight fool you though, the wheelchair is ruggedly built, and can handle up to an impressive 300 pounds of rider weight, so while it’s an ideal chair for children, it’s also got the capacity to grow with them over time.
All four of the chair’s wheels are 8” in diameter, and we’ll have more to say about the limitations that place the model in the section on terrain handling. For now, we’ll just make mention of it and say that we wish the rear wheels were a bit larger, as this change would make the chair more versatile.
Even so, if you plan on using it mostly indoors, the all-around 8” wheels shouldn’t present a problem, though you will notice some difficulty pushing it across thick, plush carpet.
Adjustability & Comfort
As is often the case with transport chairs offered at the budget end of the price spectrum, there aren’t any point of sale customization options available for the Drive Medical 17 Aluminum Transport Chair. You get what you get, and what you get is a small, rugged, basic transport chair that’s ideal for children and slimmer adults with mobility issues.
There’s only one feature on the wheelchair that can be adjusted: The height of the footrests. Other than that, it is what it is.
Comfort-wise, we’ll start by saying that transport chairs, in general, aren’t designed with comfort in mind, and this one is no different. The Drive Medical Pediatric Wheelchair is suitable for short duration sitting (1-3 hours at a stretch) but much longer than that, and it’s going to start getting uncomfortable.
Having said that, this is an extremely modestly priced chair, and it would be very easy to add an after-market seat and seatback cushion to make it more comfortable if desired.
There are limits to how much of an improvement in overall comfort you’ll see, however. Bear in mind that this chair’s seat and seat back are perfectly level.
They’re not angled at all, so it’s a lot like sitting in a simple, straight-backed chair. Again, that’s fine if you’re only going to be sitting in it for relatively short periods of time, but this isn’t a chair you’d want to spend all day in.
One final thing to talk about here are the footrests. In addition to being height adjustable and removable for transport, they also swing away. This feature enables a caregiver to push the chair right up next to a table, allowing the person to sit in the chair to enjoy a dinner with the family, either at the dinner table or out at a restaurant, without having to transfer from the transport chair to a dining chair. A very nice touch, and quite convenient.
On-Board Storage & Extras
The safety belt is the only “extra” to talk about here, and it’s an excellent addition, providing added safety and security for the person sitting in the chair, and making it less likely that they’ll slip out of it or start sliding down in the seat when the chair is in use.
Sadly, the Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair 17 does not offer onboard storage, although as with the extra padding for the seat, this could easily be added via an inexpensive after-market product if you want or need a bit of storage space. Given the modest price of the chair, even if you spent the money to add a few extras, you’d still not be paying very much money.
Primarily an Indoor Use Chair
At the start of our Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair review, we mentioned the fact that it had 8” wheels, all the way around. That’s’ fine for indoor use, but this model is going to struggle if you take it outside. If you’re looking for a transport chair that can handle outdoor and uneven terrains, then you’re going to want a chair that has larger wheels on the back (12” in diameter or larger).
Not to say that you can’t take this one outside, but you’ll find it tough going on uneven terrain, although it should handle well enough on flat, smooth surfaces (parking lots, even sidewalks, and the like).
One thing worth noting here though is that this chair’s brakes are down by the rear wheels and that the wheelchair does not have handbrakes at all. Since the brakes cannot be accessed by the person sitting in the chair, the attendant pushing it will have to bend down and pull up on the braking levers to lock the rear wheels in place.
The most significant implication here is the fact that the Drive Medical ATC17 chair isn’t great at handling sloped terrains. If you’re pushing a person down a hill, the presence of a handbrake system allows you to keep better control over the chair.
Since this model doesn’t have that feature, you’ll need to be extra careful on sloping terrain, which again, makes it less than ideal for outdoor use.
No Learning Curve & (Almost) Ready to Roll Out of the Box
This is a very basic transport chair. Aside from the safety belt, any “extras” you want will have to be acquired separately from after-market vendors.
One advantage of the fact that it’s just a basic transport chair though is the fact that there’s no learning curve involved. You unfold the chair, sit down, and you’re ready to ride, and it really is that simple too, because other than attaching the footrests, no assembly is required. The chair is pretty much ready to go, right out of the box.
Pros & Cons of the Drive Medical 17 Aluminum Transport Chair
Again, as a basic transport chair, there’s not a lot to say here on either side, pro or con. For the money, it’s a great little chair, and we have no complaints about it as is.
Having said that, there are a few changes we’d like to see that would make the lightweight wheelchair more versatile without adding significantly to its cost. In no particular order, these are:
This last item is a fairly common complaint and certainly not unique to the chair. The reality is that surprisingly few transport chairs come with transport bags, and we wish more did. The big issue is that since you have to remove the footrests for fold-up and transport, the absence of a transport bag means that the extra pieces are just lying about in the trunk or wherever you’re storing the chair when moving from Point A to Point B. A bag would keep everything together, and make it less likely that something gets lost in transit.
None of these are deal breakers, but all of them would serve to make the chair even easier to use and move, and more versatile.
Final Thoughts on Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair
This is a great little chair, offered at an almost unbelievably low price. While the Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair does have its limitations, for the right user (children, or smaller adults) who mostly plan to use the chair indoors, it’s fantastic, and highly recommended.
References & Resources