How to Buy a Reclining and Tilting Wheelchair


After reading The Benefits of a Reclining and Tilting Wheelchair you may still have questions about exactly how reclining and titling wheelchairs work. Keep reading to learn more about how a reclining and tilting wheelchair can benefit the user.

How does the reclining function work?

The reclining function works like a car seat. The user can sit upright in a reclining wheelchair, as well as lie flat to almost 180 degrees. The user’s knees can be raised up to help them stretch out their hips and lower back. To put it simply, it can extend from a wheelchair to a resting platform, almost like a bed.

The reclining function id suitable for people who need to use a wheelchair for long stretches of time and therefore require some posture change to relieve any sitting pressure. When the user activates the reclining function, their centre of gravity shifts from the pelvis to the back. This is also why the rear wheels are located further back, behind the user’s centre of gravity. A reclining wheelchair is not suitable for a user who wants to self propel the wheelchair by themselves.

A common pitfall of choosing a reclining wheelchair is to neglect the user’s ability to resist the tendency of sliding out of the chair. The reclining motion can create damage on the skin surface.

The recline function will shift the user’s centre of gravity from the pelvis to the user’s back. Source: KARMA Medical YouTube: MVP502 Reclining Wheelchair /VIP515 Tilting Wheelchair

How does a tilting wheelchair work?

The “Tilt-in-Space” wheelchair is designed to keep the user in their original sitting position, where the angle of the hip joints are unchanged. Instead, the pressure on the hips is transferred to the back.


A tilting wheelchair keeps the user at the same seating angle, but shifts the user’s weight to the back. Source: KARMA Medical YouTube: MVP502 Reclining Wheelchair /VIP515 Tilting Wheelchair 


How does a reclining and tilting wheelchair benefit elderly users with limited joint movement? 

  1. There is no change or movement of the joints when tilting, so it is suitable for the elderly user’s who cannot move their joints.
  2. Unlike the reclining function, the ‘Tilt-in-Space’ function ensures the user will remain close to the seat whilst the chair is tilting to avoid any damage to the skin.
  3. By tilting the chair, elderly caregivers can help the wheelchair user shift the pressure from the hipbone to the back, without straining themselves. This will prevent the body from forming pressure ulcers (bed sores) as well as prevent them from sliding down.

When using a “normal” wheelchair, the pressure is concentrated under the hips (left). When the user is “Tilted-in-Space”, the pressure can be more evenly distributed to the back and buttocks (middle). The center of gravity shifts when the user is “Tilted-in-Space” (right). Source: Start Up


Reclining vs Tilting Wheelchair

When a patient’s physical condition is weaker, we would recommend a Tilt and Recline combined wheelchair to reduce sitting pressure on the hips and provide more flexibility to support the hip-joint angle.

VIP2 is the 2-in-1 wheelchair with the ability to recline as well as Tit-in-Space. 

Which wheelchair wheels are best for a reclining and tilting wheelchair?

  • If the user goes outdoors often and needs to cross large thresholds, then large wheels will save the carer a lot of discomfort and effort.
  • If the wheelchair is mainly used indoors, smaller wheels are lighter and the storage size is smaller. When the wheels are smaller, they are less likely to get in the way when transferring to and from the wheelchair.


We’re here to help

We hope that this blog has given caregivers a better understanding of the benefits of Reclining and “Tilt-in-Space” wheelchairs, so long-term care can be easier on everyone. These functions will also prevent skin damage to the user, which will eventually lead to pressure ulcers. Talk to a KARMA representative today! 

Call us: 03-5612 1921 / 010 – 238 1921

Email us: [email protected]


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