Choosing the Right Wheelchair Hand Rings

Choosing the Right Wheelchair Hand Rings

Imagine someone using a poorly fitting wheelchair trying to move across a room. They push hard on the hand rings, but the wheelchair barely moves, which is tiring and frustrating. Slippery or hard-to-hold hand rings can make every trip feel like a workout. This is a common issue for daily wheelchair users, who need their wheelchair to be comfortable, easy to use, and suited to their needs.

This article discusses the importance of picking the right wheelchair hand rings. These hand rings provide comfort and mobility. It will cover the types and their benefits. Discover how to match hand rings to your needs. Read on to make your wheelchair more user-friendly.

What Are Wheelchair Hand Rings?

Wheelchair hand rings, also known as push rims or handrims, are the round parts on the edge of a wheelchair's wheels. They function like handles, allowing users to move the wheelchair by pushing or pulling on them. These hand rings enable users to navigate various terrains independently. Designed for comfort and ease of grip, they come in different shapes and coverings to prevent slipping and reduce hand fatigue.

Different Types of Wheelchair Hand Rings

Each type offers unique benefits, whether ease of grip, durability, or suitability for specific user needs. Here are the several types:

  • Chrome Handrims

Chrome handrims are less common now. They're found on some wheelchair models, but not many. Chrome doesn't go well with aluminum, which is the preferred material for wheelchairs now. Also, those made of steel are heavier. You might still see them on wheelchairs used in hospitals.

  • Aluminum Anodized Handrims

This is the most common type of handrim and is standard on many wheelchairs. Since aluminum tends to shed fine black dust, it’s anodized to seal it and prevent the oxidation that causes this dust.

  • Composite Handrims

They are made from a plastic-like material, often seen on more affordable wheelchairs. A downside is the open back side facing the wheel, which some users don’t like.

  • Vinyl Coated Handrims

These have a plastic layer over aluminum, making them easier to grip due to the added friction. They are slightly thicker, enhancing grip. However, the vinyl can chip over time, revealing the metal beneath. Also, controlling speed by letting the hand slide through the hand generates heat because of the friction.

  • Foam Covered Handrims

These feature a soft foam covering, similar to pipe insulation, offering a comfortable grip. Like vinyl, the foam can wear away, but the surface of the handrim remains smoother.

  • Projection Handrims

These have short projections for users who cannot grip the rim. To move, users push with their palms on these nubs. Extra caution is needed for speed control.

  • Oblique Projection Handrims

These are similar to projection handrims but with longer projections at a 45 degrees angle. They are for users needing a different angle for pushing.

  • Natural Fit Handrims

A special design that includes a contoured thumb rest and an oval shape for better grip and comfort. This type is not typically available from wheelchair makers but can be added.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Hand Rings

Discover what to consider when selecting wheelchair hand rings. Each factor makes them more comfortable, easier to use, and improves mobility.


When choosing wheelchair hand rings, material matters for comfort and usability. Here are some of the most used materials:

  • Anodized aluminum: This lightweight, rust-resistant material is excellent for daily use and comes in silver or black.
  • Stainless steel: This is durable and doesn't change temperature easily. It offers a comfortable grip in any weather and often features a textured surface for better control.
  • Titanium: This material is light and strong, resistant to scratches, but can sometimes irritate the skin.
  • Modern wooden: These hand rings are smooth, weather-resistant, and unique in appearance.
  • High friction: Some hand rings use high-friction materials like plastic or rubber for better grip. This improves propulsion for those with limited hand function. However, these materials can get hot and cause discomfort during fast movements. It's better to choose hand rings that are dipped or painted for durability, avoiding glued ones.
  • Combination: These hand rings have a grippy strip on the top for propulsion while keeping the sides smooth for braking. They are suited for those with good hand function who need controlled speed.


Durability means making sure hand rings can handle daily use without breaking down. Strong materials like stainless steel and titanium last a long time and don't need to be replaced often, saving money in the long run. It's important to pick materials dealing with regular use, weather, and the odd bump.

Think about how heavy and strong the hand rings are. While lighter hand rings make the wheelchair easier to push and turn, they must also be tough. Choosing hand rings made from strong but light materials means they'll hold up well over time without making the wheelchair hard to move.

Grip and Shape

Grip comfort means pushing and steering without hurting your hands or wrists. Look for hand rings with rough surfaces or special coatings for a strong grip, especially if you have weak hands. The size and shape of the hand rings also matter. Some are designed to be easier on your hands, preventing you from getting tired quickly.

Traditional round hand rings make you grip too tightly, which can be tough on your wrists and lead to pain over time. Some try to avoid this by holding the wheel and the hand ring together, but that’s not the intended use. Ergonomic or oval-shaped hand rings are better because they fit your hands more naturally, so you don't have to squeeze too hard. They've been proven to help prevent hand and wrist pain.

Hand ring size varies, too. Bigger hand rings can be easier to hold, especially for people with trouble gripping or younger users with smaller hands.

User’s Mobility Level

Choosing the right type of hand ring for a wheelchair depends greatly on how well the user can move their hands. If using hands is difficult, hand rings with special grips or raised parts can help push the wheelchair. Someone with strong arms might prefer lightweight but sturdy hand rings made of titanium or aluminum.

It's also smart to think about what the user does daily and where they go. This can help pick the best hand rings for their needs and ensure they can move around as easily and freely as possible.


Hand rings on wheelchairs are important because they help you move around more easily and feel more independent. They make using a wheelchair more comfy, so you can go where you want without as much trouble. Choosing hand rings that fit you well and work with your wheelchair can make a difference.

If you want your wheelchair to fit better and move smoother, check out the different hand rings and add-ons we have. The right choice can help you get around more easily and improve your day!

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