In a Nutshell:
The NOVA Medical Products Transport Wheelchair is an outstanding all-purpose transport chair, supports an impressive 400 pounds of user weight, and handles well on a variety of terrains. Recommended for anyone looking for a great “all-terrain” transport chair and bigger, taller, or heavier patients.
Ease of Use
Are you wrestling with either a short- or long-term mobility issue? Do you feel that it is holding you back and keeping you from enjoying life the way you were once able to, especially when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors? Are you a bigger/taller/heavier person? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you’re going to love this in-depth review of the NOVA Medical Products Transport Wheelchair.
NOVA isn’t one of the industry Titans. They don’t have the name recognition of Karman, Drive Medical, or some of the other major industry players, but make no mistake, they make high-quality equipment, and the 332 is no exception. In fact, it won our top pick as the best “All-Terrain” transport chair in our transport chair roundup review and is an exceptional bariatric transport chair, to boot.
If you are big or tall, you’ve probably struggled to find a good chair that meets your needs. We understand that because the selection of chairs that support more than 300 pounds of body weight is significantly more limited than the choice of smaller chairs.
It’s even trickier in the transport chair market. Because it’s a daunting engineering challenge to create a chair that can support heavier folks while, at the same time, keeping the chair light enough to be easy to move from Point A to Point B. On these fronts and many others, NOVA Medical’s 332 delivers in style.
In the sections that follow here in our Nova Medical Products Transport Wheelchair review, we’ll go over everything this heavy-duty chair can do and point out its limitations, so you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision. Let’s jump right in and take a closer look!
An Overview of the NOVA Transport Chair 332
The first thing you’ll notice about the 332 is that it’s an impressively sized, rugged-looking device. Although it’s offered in two colors (you can select either red or blue at the point of sale), it’s not much to look at, but then, if you’re buying a transport chair, aesthetics probably aren’t at the forefront of your mind.
That’s not to say it’s downright ugly; it’s just that the design team clearly put most of their efforts on function over form. It looks like a transport chair with a job to do, and that’s what most people care about anyway. If you are looking for something a bit more stylish, there are a few models you’ll probably like better, so it’s something to keep in mind, but again, for most people, that’s a fairly low-priority consideration.
Here are the relevant stats to keep in mind and compare to your needs:
Despite the fact that it’s heavier than many, if not most other transport chairs, its 27-pound weight can’t really be called excessive. And its folded dimensions make it relatively easy to load into most full-sized sedan trunks and hatchbacks, with larger vehicles even less challenging. And as mentioned, it can support an impressive 400 pounds of user weight.
You’ll also note the presence of durable aluminum crossbars under the seat, which gives it additional strength. Plus, its flip-up desk-length arms make transferring into and out of the chairs a fairly easy proposition for those with decent mobility. However, we note that patients with very limited mobility would be better served by full-length arms, as one of these can be kept in the down position and used as additional support to get into and out of the chair.
Adjustability & Comfort
There’s not much about the Nova Medical HD Transport Chair that is adjustable. You only get one option (color selection) offered at point of sale, and once you get the chair, you’ll find that about the only things you can adjust are the height of the footrests and the diameter of the heel loops, which provide extra support for those who need it.
The heel loops are a nice touch, though. Most of the chairs we’ve reviewed on this site don’t offer them, and we count their presence here as a point in favor of the model.
It’s a handy feature for those who need it and doesn’t notably add to the price, so if you don’t need them, you’re not paying an arm and a leg for a feature you’re not using.
Where comfort is concerned, it’s about average. There’s no way you can adjust the tension in the seat or the seat back, so what you see is what you get. Also, neither the seat nor the seatback is angled. So when you’re sitting in it, it’s rather like sitting in a standard, straight-backed chair, which isn’t exactly the picture of comfort.
Nonetheless, it’s okay for short-duration sitting (1-3 hours or so). If you find it a tad less comfortable than you’d like, it’s a simple matter to add an after-market seat and/or seatback cushion. And the option to add your own extra cushioning is why we gave it a higher-than-average rating where comfort is concerned.
On-Board Storage & Extras
The NOVA 332 HD does offer a small storage pouch on the back of the seat back, which is where most wheelchairs and transport chairs locate storage if it’s offered at all (and a surprising number of chairs don’t offer any storage whatsoever). That’s not bad, but NOVA’s storage pouch is, in our view, too small to be useful, so you’ll likely want to invest in an after-market pouch if storage matters to you.
The other observation we’ll make is this: We are mystified why more companies don’t offer storage under the seat, where it can easily be accessed by the person sitting in the chair.
Especially in NOVA’s’ case, given the presence of the crossbars under the seat, it seems that it would be a trivial matter to hook a basket or some type of removable storage compartment there, but alas, no such option is available. Since so few companies offer storage under the seat, we can’t penalize the company for its absence, but we sure wish more of them did!
The chair also comes with an adjustable safety belt, an excellent complement to the 12” rear wheels and rear handbrakes. The combination of these elements means that with an assistant pushing, the transport chair can handle sloping terrain with ease, allowing the attendant to put the brakes on as needed to slow the chair down, and the safety belt ensuring that the passenger won’t slide forward and out of the chair when going downhill.
There are plenty of after-market enhancements and add-ons available for both wheelchairs and transport chairs. And although the NOVA HD isn’t the least expensive model you can buy, even when you factor in whatever “extras” you want to add after making your purchase, you’ll still have a relatively modest investment, overall, which is a good thing.
Also, note that the footrests swing away, enabling you to maneuver the chair quite close to a table, so you can enjoy dinner out or in with the family without having to transfer out of the 332 and into a dining chair.
Handles Well on a Variety of Terrains
Some transport chairs utilize same-sized wheels, front and back (usually 8” in diameter). The problem that these chairs have is that they are wretched when it comes to handling anything other than smooth, flat terrain. A chair with all 8” wheels will sometimes even struggle on the plush carpet inside your home. The moment you encounter bumpy outdoor terrain, they’re absolutely terrible.
The NOVA transport chair 332 doesn’t have that problem. Its rear wheels are 12” in diameter, and wider than its front wheels, enabling it to navigate even moderately challenging terrain.
From a practical perspective, that means if you enjoy gardening, exploring your property, or an afternoon at the park, this chair can handle most of the terrains you’re likely to encounter. Granted, it may give your assistant a bit of a workout, but the chair is surely more than capable of navigating through it!
The company prides itself on its “Feather Touch” locking handbrakes. To NOVA’s credit, they are both adjustable and very responsive, making handling a wide range of terrains much easier.
The brakes can be locked or unlocked with a touch, so if you’ve reached your destination and want to sit a while or need to transfer out of the chair, you can do so with ease and without worrying that the chair will slip away from you.
No Learning Curve to Speak of, & Little Assembly Required
The Nova Medical Products 332 lightweight transport chair is delivered mostly assembled, so there’s not much prep work to get it ready for first use, and since there aren’t many adjustable features on it, there’s no learning curve to speak of. About the only thing to add here is that you will want to spend some time using it “in the field” to decide what, if any, after-market extras you may wish to. But after a few hours’ use, you’ll have a good handle on that.
Pros & Cons of the Nova Medical HD Transport Chair
There’s a lot to like about the NOVA HD, but in our view, its greatest strengths are:
If we could talk to the designers and get anything we wanted from them, we’d recommend making three changes to the model:
We’ll be quick to add that none of these are deal breakers, but if all three were included, we’d consider this a perfect, five-star transport chair.
Nova Medical Products Transport Wheelchair Conclusion
We were impressed by the NOVA Medical HD transport chair and regarded it as an exceptional value for the money. It’s a rugged, durable model that will serve you well, indoors or out. It’s big enough to support most big and tall users and light enough that transporting it from one location to another isn’t a chore, which is exactly what we like to see in a transport chair.
If you weigh less than 300 pounds and don’t plan on much outdoor use, then this is almost certainly more transport chair than you need, and you’d be better served looking at some other model. If you’re big and tall and weigh between 300-400 pounds, or if you’re looking for a big, roomy chair that can handle almost any outdoor terrain, we highly recommend it.
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