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Wheelchair Push Rims & Handrims – your secret weapon for push and grip

The Many Benefits of Wheelchair Pushrims

blue pushrim covers on a wheelchair wheel

Wheelchair pushrims, also called handrims or push rims, are an important part of manual wheelchairs. They allow the user to grip and propel the wheels forward through pushing motions. Selecting the right pushrims is crucial for wheelchair performance and preventing injury. This article will explore the clinical, functional, and design benefits of various wheelchair pushrim options.

What Are Pushrims and Why Do They Matter?

composite image of young lady with pink pushrims and text"Pushrims the secret weapon of pushing"


Wheelchair pushrims are the circular bars that surround the rear wheels of a manual wheelchair. As the name suggests, wheelchair users grip these rims and push forward to propel their chair. This moves the drive wheels and controls speed and direction.

Choosing an optimal set of pushrims is important for several reasons:

  • Mobility: Good pushrims improve propulsion and make the wheelchair easier to maneuver. Their grip, size, shape and material impact mobility.
  • Injury Prevention: Bad pushrims can strain the hands, wrists and shoulders. Ergonomic options prevent overuse injuries.
  • Function: Pushrims must match the user’s strength, range of motion and coordination. Custom options suit different needs.

In short, pushrims act as the critical interface between wheelchair user and chair. Their design directly impacts mobility and health.

The Clinical Benefits of Pushrims

Research confirms that pushrim design has tangible clinical benefits.

Well-designed pushrims can prevent upper body overuse issues like carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff injuries. How? Through improved grip, better biomechanics and reduced strain during propulsion.

Specifically, ergonomic pushrims:

This lessens the risk of chronic pain or injuries to the hands, wrists and shoulders.

In one study, wheelchair users reported immediate pain reduction when using an ergonomic pushrim model. The benefits are clear.

Of course, pushrim needs depend on the individual. A good fit considers hand strength, sensation loss and joint mobility restrictions.

Pushrim Materials and Durability

Pushrims come in a variety of materials, shapes, diameters and other options. Materials impact grip, comfort and durability.

Common choices include:

  • Stainless steel: Offers good corrosion resistance and a sleek look. Not the grippiest choice.
  • Coated aluminum: More lightweight than steel. Can add grippy coatings. Prone to scratches.
  • Titanium: Extremely strong yet lightweight. Low maintenance and durable. Very expensive.
  • Plastic/composite: Affordable option for basic to moderate use. Last well even with frequent/rough use. A brand this is often recommended are Rehadesign Pushrim Covers;

In general, metal pushrims offer the best durability for frequent or rough use. But plastic is cheaper for basic needs.

Added grip coatings (like rubber) provide extra traction and comfort on any material. This helps optimize contact and push mechanics.

Ideal Pushrim Design Qualities

Beyond materials, certain design qualities make for excellent pushrims:

  • Ergonomic shape: Contoured to fit the hand’s natural closed grip. Reduces strain.
  • Grip surface area: Wide enough for whole-hand contact. Prevents fingertip pressure.
  • Mounting: Quick-release and easy to remove. Enables maintenance.
  • Visibility: Color contrast against the wheels and chair frame. Improves safety.

Of course, individuals have unique needs and preferences. But these qualities optimize function, mobility and injury prevention.

Specific Pushrim Models and Features

Many pushrim models offer distinct features and benefits. A few top options:

  • Natural-Fit: Ergonomic shape fits hand contour. Black rubber coating prevents slippage
  • Q-Grip: Cushioned rubber surface improves grip. Easy to mount without tools
  • Surge: Replaceable silicone grip insert on aluminum rim. Bright green color aids visibility
  • Rehadesign Ultra Grip – affordable and durable rubber push rims that are easily mounted in seconds

Mobility shops can help find the ideal model for one’s needs and environment.

Research on Power-Assist Pushrims

Recent studies analyze the benefits of power-assist pushrims. These motorized wheels sense and amplify the user’s push force.

The reduced strain could prevent upper body overuse issues. Power-assist shows great promise to boost function.

Of course, these wheels add expense and width to a chair. But the independence and mobility gains appear substantial.

Innovations in Wheelchair Pushrim Design

Some novel wheelchair designs separate the pushrims from the drive wheels. This offers new advantages:

  • Improves wheelchair maneuverability and control[]
  • Allows wheel/pushrim customization to user size and needs
  • Pushrim location prevents contact with dirty drive wheels

The separation ensures hands stay clean after propulsion. This can help reduce secondary infections and pressure ulcer risk.

As technology advances, we will continue seeing pushrim innovations. The quest for improved propulsion and injury prevention persists.

Conclusion: Matching Users and Pushrims

Wheelchair pushrims serve critical propulsion and braking functions. Their grip, diameter, material and other factors impact mobility and health.

Choosing the right pushrim involves matching user strengths, range of motion and coordination abilities. Ergonomic shapes provide a better fit and reduce strain.

While often overlooked, pushrims deserve careful selection consideration given their profound impact. Consult mobility rehab experts to explore options and find the best possible fit.

With some research and customization, wheelchair users can reap substantial benefits from their all-important pushrims. Mobility, independence and pain-free wheeling await.

For wheelchair users who have poor grip or are tetrapleglic, this post discusses the best choices of handrims.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pushrims connect the user to the wheelchair – their design impacts propulsion, control and injury risk
  • Ergonomic shapes distribute pressure evenly and require less force to push
  • Power-assist pushrims boost efficiency and obstacle climbing while lowering repetition
  • Separating pushrims from drive wheels aids maneuverability and hand hygiene
  • Matching grip type, diameter and material to user ability and environment is key


About the Author: Duncan Edwards

  • Married to a spinal injured person, I’ve navigated the complexities of wheelchair accessibility and accessories firsthand.
  • My expertise extends to wheelchair pushrims, where I’ve spent years identifying the best options for comfort and efficiency.
  • Collaborating with Disability Horizons, I’ve reviewed countless wheelchair accessories, always seeking to enhance mobility and independence for users.
  • Supporting my partner and engaging with a community of wheelchair users has deepened my understanding and passion for accessible solutions.
  • My background in welfare benefits and managing Disability Horizons Shop has equipped me with a unique perspective on the needs of disabled individuals and their families.

Real Greepers shoelaces could have the edge on elastics

New research has struck a blow for “real” shoelaces in the battle against elastic laces.

The report, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, looked at different lacing patterns in sports shoes, and found that a firm “foot-to-shoe coupling” (FTSC) could be beneficial to athletes and less sporty folk alike.

It’s not just professional athletes who will benefit from the security of Greepers laces

Real shoelaces, such as those used by the revolutionary “always tied” Greepers laces, provide that secure attachment.

The research went on to say: “A firm foot-to-shoe coupling… leads to a more effective use of running shoe features and is likely to reduce the risk of lower limb injury.”

Researchers at Sheffield University are investigating the benefits of running performance using real laces, and have uncovered some promising findings that should make all runners  – and non-runners alike – think about how they lace their shoes.

Why choose real shoelaces?

The right shoes – and laces – can make a world of difference to runners. A firm FTSC helps stop excessive movement of the foot and lower leg, reducing the risk of injury by eliminating unnecessary bends, pulls and twists.

Think about how your foot moves when you plant it on the ground. Do you want it firmly anchored, or able to stretch on elastic? Opinions vary among professional athletes and occupational therapists alike, and sometimes it’s a matter of personal taste and preference.

champion triathlete running through the rain with greeper laces

Silver winning Jacqui Allen at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships.
Greeper laces are used by top athletes.

But, with research indicating that injuries could be reduced with less stretchy laces, the debate is sure to intensify.

And, unlike elastic laces that allow extra movement of the foot as you pound the pavements, “real” shoelaces such as Greepers provide minimal movement, aiming to lessen the impact of every step.

review of greeper laces

Greeper review in Triathon Magazine

Security with every step

It’s not just athletes who will find a benefit in having shoelaces that are firmly attached. It’s easy to see how disabled athletes, people with joint pain or bone weakness and  those of us with reduced mobility need security and stability with every single step.

Greepers provide a simple and accessible solution. Once they’re tied once, you don’t need to tie them again – meaning they can be loosened and tightened but not undone. If you find it a pain to reach down and tie shoelaces, or need a shoelacing solution for someone who needs to know they won’t have to keep tying and untying at school, these sturdy and stylish laces offer the perfect package.gif showing how to tie greeper laces

Greepers are available in a range of different styles

Many parents find the Greepers laces the perfect choice for children who have a range of needs, for example if children regularly take off their shoes at unwanted times or if they have difficulty in tying them and don’t like the feel of Velcro fastenings.

There’s also the Greeper fastening device for people who can only use one hand, to help get the laces snug.

Greepers are available at

Gripping Aids Review featuring Active Hands

Gripping Aids for Disabled People in Review

There are many different reasons a person may have difficult with their grip or poor hand function and it can make independence and access to a wide range of regular daily tasks difficult. Active Hands specialise in creating aids which provide their users with a functional gripping aid or aids, letting them enjoy activities which they may never have thought possible.

The Story behind Active Hands

freeweightsThe Active Hands Company Ltd is the development and creation of Rob Smith, an inventor who used his own experiences to develop his gripping aids. In 1996, as a student, Rob suffered a high-level spinal cord injury which resulted in partial paralysis in all four limbs and whilst his recovery took some time, he returned to continue studying engineering.

Lack of hand function became a real frustration however and this is when the first seed of thought was planted and quickly Rob got together the necessary materials and with the help of his mother and her sewing machine, the first prototype was made and these gripping aids allows Rob much more hand functionality.

From household tasks to skiing, Rob could now enjoy many activities that had been impossible after his injury and the family then took the next step and began to make the aids for others, with the limited company founded in 2008.

The product is now available in a range of sizes for a range of purposes and has helped many individuals enjoy a fuller life, from helping tots ride their first tricycle to allowing treasured hobbies to be discovered.

A Closer Look at Active Hands Gripping Aids

This informative video shows exactly what Active Hands Gripping Aids can do and how they can be used:

All of the aids produced by Active Hands are made from strong webbing material to ensure they are long lasting, even when used for strenuous activities and the aids are easily washed in your washing machine.

There are a wide range of different Active Hands Gripping Aids, which we’ll look at in turn below:

Active Hands General Purpose Gripping Aid

Active Hands General Purpose Gripping Aid

Active Hands General Purpose Gripping Aid

The original. A standard aid created to be used in a range of environments, at home for DIY, working out in the gym or to hold a wide range of sporting equipment including a pool cue or a rowing oar. You can use them to enjoy gardening or to hold a glass bottle or even to hold a games console controller.

They’re available in a range of sizes, including those for young children, with the mini gripping aid in pink or blue and the adult version can also be bought in pink. We had a closer
look at childrens gripping aids on our sister blog here.

Looped Exercise Aids

Designed for fitness fanatics, these looped exercise aids are ideal for using in the gym and the loops make them perfect for using equipment such as pull down bars and rowing machines.

This video shows the looped aids in action:

D-Ring Aids

Active Hands Gripping Aid for Working Out

Active Hands Gripping Aid for Working Out

D-Ring aids are another creation for use in the gym, sold as a pair and perfectly designed so you can access cable and pulley machines with ease. They allow for a greater range of movement and can be beneficial for those with limb differences as well as weak hand function.

Outdoor Aid

A modified version of the standard Active Hands General Purpose Aid, the Outdoor Aid has been cleverly designed for use with thick gloves. It has the same functionality as the general aid but you can use it for extreme winter sports, gardening in colder weather.

What the Customers Say

The Active Hands Company Ltd has a huge fan base with many reviews and lots of support for their quality product. Below are some examples of happy customers’ thoughts:

“I just ordered a new gripping aid after a number of years with the first.  It still works great and has allowed me to do a number of things I was in the process of giving up on (tennis, shoveling, cutting with a knife, etc.). I ordered a second right hand one because I travel with it sometimes and the thought of leaving it somewhere and having to do without it for a period of time is not a pleasant one. Thanks again for coming up with an invention that truly makes a big difference in my life.”

Bob Goodkind

“I am a big fan of active hands and every one of my clients that has grip issues has been shown how effective active hands are. They are quite simply the best tetra gloves on the market and I am very happy to recommend active hands to my clients at Prime Physio.  I am a big fan and meet people throughout the country and occasionally in Europe, I always recommend Active Hands. Active Hands can be applied easily and adapted to so many exercises, I think they are a great bit of kit.”

Andy Galbraith

MCSP MLACP, Physiotherapist, Prime Physio Specialist Therapy Centre

“My grandson has a genetic disorder generally referred to as Micro Cephaly with symptoms similar to cerebral palsy.  He cannot speak, sit up, walk or control arms but is such a warm hearted little guy who loves to ride an adaptive bike.  For some reason, his little legs work on the pedals!

When he first started riding the bike, there was no way to control his arms and hands… I came across your website one night after a pretty extensive search.

Well they work as well as I could have hoped. His movement is much more controlled, he is stronger at pedalling (which is great exercise for him).  The teachers in his school, his parents, and of course myself could not be happier.  Thank you!!”

Bob Majkrzak

Buy your Active Hands Aid

You can purchase your Active Hands Gripping Aid or Aids at The Active Hands Company Amazon Store. . This is an aid which can truly be life changing and the range of different styles ensure there is something to suit every kind of buyer. It’s a revolutionary design that so many people can benefit from and Rob Smith and his family can be proud of what they’ve created.

Other Gripping Aids on the Market

Dycem® Matting

Image is a photograph of the Dycem jar opener which is red and looks similar to the top of a toadstoolDycem® produce a wide range of non-slip matting in a range of shapes and styles which can be used in a number of ways, such as the Dycem Jar Opener. It can be used to hold objects in place or popped onto bottle tops and door handles to make them easier to open, turn and twist.



Gripeeze: for DIY and Gardening

Gripeze DIY Glove in position

The Gripeeze brand comes with the slogan “Get your Grip Back” and their simply yet innovative products certainly deliver this. Designed with a Velcro strap which allows for any item from spanners to hammers to be strapped securely into your grip and the leather and neoprene fabrics mean the gloves are extremely comfortable.

They’ve been designed with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) sufferers and rehabilitation of temporary loss of grip in mind but this is far from their only use and if you live with a longer term disability which effects your grip there is absolutely no reason you won’t be able to benefit from this creation. Take a look at this demonstrative video, showing how effective the Gripeeze gloves are:


Grip-Par Golfing Glove

The Grip-Par range are a little more specialised and designed for keen golfers. With both and male and female ranges, the Grip-Par gloves have been ergonomically designed to cause as little disruption to your game as possible and allow you to continue with your favourite sport despite living with your disability or injury. The Grip-Par glove can both improve your control and have received recommendations from PGA coaches and professionals. They provide a unique griplocking action which allows you to comfortably grip your club without any fear. Not designed solely for those who live with disabilities, this product has gained a much wider audience yet can still be extremely liberating for the keen golfer who thought their hobby was a thing of the past.

The right gripping aid can enable so many things, from the most basic daily tasks to enjoying hobbies and sports. We hope you can find the aid which suit your needs and really think the range available is beginning to ensure there is something for everyone.