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The first records of wheeled seats being used for transporting disabled people date to three centuries later in China; the Chinese used early wheelbarrows to move people as well as heavy objects.A distinction between the two functions was not made for another several hundred years, around 525 CE, when images of wheeled chairs made specifically to carry people begin to occur in Chinese art.Rigid wheelchairs, which are increasingly preferred by full-time and active users, have permanently welded joints and many fewer moving parts.
There are a wide variety of types of wheelchair, differing by propulsion method, mechanisms of control, and technology used.
Welded rather than folding joints also reduce the overall weight of the chair.
Rigid chairs typically feature instant-release rear wheels and backrests that fold down flat, allowing the user to dismantle the chair quickly for storage in a car.
Some wheelchairs are designed for general everyday use, others for single activities, or to address specific access needs.
Innovation within the wheelchair industry is relatively common, but many innovations ultimately fall by the wayside, either from over-specialization, or from failing to come to market at an accessible price-point.