Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Wheelchair Statistics ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Wheelchair Statistics
Category: Business and Money
Asked by: ronshostack-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 18 Aug 2005 21:40 PDT
Expires: 17 Sep 2005 21:40 PDT
Question ID: 557561
Number of wheelchairs in the USA categorized by manual, motorized and
motorized scooter and average income level of wheelchair owner
categorized by manual, motorized and motorized scooter.

Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 24 Aug 2005 10:51 PDT
Hello ronshostack-ga,

I thought this would be a quick and easy search and was very surprised
at how little information is available. Here are some of the
highlights of why I think this will be a tough search.

 -- There is detailed market research available for very steep prices
with reports in the $2000 ? $4000 range.

 -- Demographic information correlated to income level of wheelchair
owners may not be available or may be misleading because of the degree
of involvement of 3rd party payers.

 -- The wheelchair industry is in flux because of rapid changes in
technology. Growth is anticipated as the old line major players jockey
for position with smaller, recently-founded innovators.

 -- There are lots of indicators in the trade press that the aging of
the baby boom should lead to a boom in wheelchair sales.

Please tell me more about what information is essential for you and
let me know how to proceed.

I look forward to your clarification.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Question by ronshostack-ga on 24 Aug 2005 11:37 PDT
czh. I had the same problem which prompted me to turn this over to
you. Here's the background which may assist you to answer the
question: I own a company,, which manufactures an
outdoor air conditioning system for portable use. Our first market is
the golf industry, i.e., we designed a model that sits behind the
occupants of a golf cart which blows cool air on to the back of the
occupant's neck. A number of people have suggested that wheelchairs
would be an ideal market for us as well since the mechanics are
essentially the same, i.e., someone seated and a unit that extends
from below to provide cooling. Before entering that market, we want to
determine the size of the market which is a function of how many
wheelchairs are in use as well as average income levels of their
occupants which we would need to determine whether our price point is
reasonable for their purchasing power. Then, I also wanted to know the
numbers by type of wheelchair because it preliminarily appears that we
would have room to add our unit to a non-motorized wheelchair and also
a scooter but maybe not a motorized wheelchair.

Please call me if you have any other questions and / or if the $50
price point I selected is not going to get the job done. Ron (310)

Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 24 Aug 2005 14:19 PDT
Hello again ronshostack-ga,

Thank you for the clarifications. I'm afraid that the demographic and
market information you're looking for is only available in the
expensive market research reports -- if at all. I don't know if that
information would be particularly useful. A more relevant question
might be whether third party payers would be likely to pay for the
wheelchair enhancements you're thinking of developing. Most
wheelchairs are paid for by insurance companies, medicare and other
third party payers and these tend to be very conservative and
reluctant to approve new technologies. It seems to me, researching
this issue might be more useful than looking at the income levels of
wheelchair users.

You indicate that you've done some research yourelf so I don't know
how to proceed so I don't duplicate what you've found on your own. I
don't know if you've already identified the expensive market research
reports and decided about whether you want to buy them or not. Would
information about these be useful? Please tell me what is your
perception of the market realities and what research would be useful
based on my above caveats.

BTW -- Do not post your phone number or address on Google Answers as
this is a violation of the Terms of Service and may cause your
question to be removed by the editors.

I look forward to your clarification.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Question by ronshostack-ga on 24 Aug 2005 15:30 PDT
Sorry about the faux pas with my phone number.

I looked around as did you and came up with nothing. It would be
helpful to identify those more expensive reports to me.

As far as the payment source, I don't believe this product would
qualify for Medicare and, for that matter, I don't want to be yet
another company that sucks off taxpayer resources, so I'm instead
focused on the ability of wheel chair users to afford this product
using their own resources.
Subject: Re: Wheelchair Statistics
Answered By: czh-ga on 24 Aug 2005 19:12 PDT
Hello again ronshostack-ga,

Your clarifications helped me understand your research needs much
better. As I stated earlier, the market research information is
available in several expensive market research reports. I?ve listed
these first. In addition, I found a few government survey statistics
that should also be helpful as a beginning for understanding the
demographics of wheelchair users. In addition to these reports, I?ve
also listed a variety of resources to help you get an overview of
current trends in the manufacture of wheelchairs and how they are paid
for. I think these will help you with setting some directions for
further research on your wheelchair accessory product. Please don?t
hesitate to ask for clarification if any of this is confusing.

Wishing you well for your enterprises.

~ czh ~

Wheelchair Market Opportunities, Strategies, and Forecasts, 2004 to 2009
Report # SH29821356
172 Pages
44 Tables and Figures
Price: $2800

Companies Profiled
Invacare Corporation
Sunrise Medical
Graham-Field Health Products
Everest & Jennings
Drive Medical
Eagle Sports Chairs
Gendron Inc.
Glide Rehabilitation Products
Gunnell Inc.
Hoveround Corporation
Magic Mobility Wheelchair
Melrose Kiwi Concept Chairs
Pride Mobility Inc.
Product Design Group

Wheelchair markets are expected to grow as the baby boomers age. The
aging of the population is expected to change markets. The ability to
get reimbursement has been a significant market factor. As baby
boomers age and need wheelchairs, they will be willing to pay directly
for mobility and comfort as they do for homes and cars now.

Wheelchair Market Opportunities, Market Forecasts, and Market Strategies, 2004-2009
Wintergreen Research
October 7, 2004
194 Pages
Pub ID: WGR1052589
Price: $2800

Hospital and homecare wheelchair technology is evolving to give people
with disabilities more mobility. Markets are poised to create the
ability for people to get more exercise and impact the healthcare
delivery industry by encouraging mobility of people who were
previously bed ridden. Wheelchairs impact care delivery, permitting
moving from the bed and facilitating exercise. Patients and family
gain more control over the care delivery. Care can be delivered in
familiar settings. The wheelchair market participants seek to position
with chairs that are in growing market segments. Leading vendors offer
a wide range of products, services, training, and support. Homecare
agencies depend on reimbursement to sell custom units. The designs of
wheelchairs are making them intuitive to use. This represents major
market opportunity.

***** The detailed Table of Contents will give you an overview of how
the industry is segmented and the names of the key players. You can
also do keyword searches on the report and get a good idea of whether
the subjects you?re interested in are covered in the report even
though the key data are blacked out.

Wheelchair Market Opportunities, Market Forecasts, and Market Strategies, 2004-2009
PRODUCT TYPE: Market Research Report
PUBLISHED DATE: October 2004
PUBLISHED BY: WinterGreen Research
PRICE: $2800

***** This is the same WinterGreen report offered by a different
vendor who gives you the option of buying only the sections that you

Wheelchairs (Powered and Manual)
Global Industry Analysts
October 1, 2003
279 Pages
Pub ID: GJOB224498
Price: $3450

* Most comprehensive report covering worldwide markets 
* Data-intensive research - An imperative for the serious player! 
* Designed to empower the quality conscious executive 
* Presented in crisp easy-to-use tables, charts, and text formats 
* 208 Companies profiled - Covering Key & Niche Players worldwide 
* 176 Exhibits - Market Data, Tables, Shares, Analyses, Trends, etc. 
* 279 Pages of original research content encompassing all facets 
* 1,500+ employee hours of research and analyses 
* Research assisted and subscribed by many key players worldwide!

***** This report has an extremely detailed Table of Contents.

North American Mobility Aids Markets
Frost & Sullivan
October 7, 2004
Pub ID: MC1052625
Price: $3950

Shrinking Reimbursement Diverts Demand to Low-end Mobility Aids
Reimbursement cuts by healthcare providers force manufacturers of
mobility aids to find innovative ways to increase revenues. By working
together with healthcare providers such as the Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS), manufacturers can provide alternative
products and payment structures to contain costs. Declining
reimbursement is expected to require patients to pay more
out-of-pocket expenses, making premium products unobtainable for many
patients. Although this trend reduces sales for high-margin products,
demand is anticipated to increase for lower-end products and create
new niche product segments to fill in the gap.

This Frost & Sullivan research service provides an overview and
outlook for the North American mobility aids market. This research
service is segmented into patient lifts, standard manual wheelchairs,
ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs, pediatric manual wheelchairs,
bariatric manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and scooters. This
service includes detailed market opportunities and industry trends
that have been evaluated through extensive interviews with market

***** The Table of Contents is very helpful on this report as well.

Wheelchairs & Other Personal Mobility Devices
Freedonia Group Inc
December 1, 2003
Pub ID: FG950990
Price: $3900

Demand to increase nearly 7% annually through 2007. Aggregate demand
for personal mobility devices in the US is projected to increase by
almost seven percent per year through 2007 to $2.7 billion, which
compares favorably to prospects for broader economic indicators such
as manufacturers shipments and nominal GDP.

Please Note: Freedonia requires that, for PDF orders, clients sign a
confidentiality agreement prior to fulfillment of PDF email delivery.

***** This report also has a very detailed Table of Contents that can
give you a quick overview of the issues in the industry and the major

Wheelchair Use in the United States
Authors: H. Stephen Kaye, Taewoon Kang, and Mitchell P. LaPlante
Abstract 23
May 2002 

Wheelchair Use in the United States 
An estimated 1.6 million Americans residing outside of institutions
use wheelchairs, according to 199495 data from the National Health
Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D).1 Most (1.5 million) use
manual devices, with only 155,000 people using electric wheelchairs.2
Wheelchair users are among the most visible members of the disability
community, experiencing among the highest levels of activity
limitation and functional limitation and among the lowest levels of

Age and gender
The proportion of the population using wheelchairs increases sharply
with age (see Table 1). Very few children (88,000, or 0.1 percent of
the population under 18 years of age) use wheelchairs. Among
working-age adults, the rate of wheelchair use is substantially
higher, at 0.4 percent of that population, or about 600,000 people. By
far the highest rates are found among the elderly population: 2.9
percent of those aged 65 or older use wheelchairs, or about 900,000
Elderly people are the group with the highest rates of both manual and
electric wheelchair use. But although a majority (57.5 percent) of
manual wheelchair users are elderly, more than twothirds (69.7
percent) of electric wheelchair users are non-elderly.

Women comprise a significant majority (58.8 percent) of wheelchair
users, with 0.7 percent of the female population using a manual or
electric wheelchair, compared to 0.5 percent of males. Much of the
difference in rates is explained by the greater average longevity of
women, coupled with the much higher rates of mobility device use among
the elderly.

Socioeconomic status 
Rates of wheelchair use vary greatly by educational attainment (Figure
1). Adults without a high school education are more than 5 times as
likely as college graduates to use a wheelchair (2.2 vs. 0.4 percent).
Overall, educational attainment among wheelchair users tends to be
low: Only 11.2 percent of adult wheelchair users have graduated from
college, compared to 21.6 percent of the general adult population.
Among working-age adults, 13.7 percent of wheelchair users are college
graduates, compared to 23.2 percent of the overall working-age

Low levels of educational attainment and low employment rates (see
below) combine to create a bleak economic picture for many wheelchair
users, one-fifth (19.1 percent) of whom live in poverty. As shown in
Figure 1, wheelchair use decreases by nearly a factor of 5 between
persons with family income less than $10,000 (1.3 percent of whom are
wheelchair users) and those with family income greater than $35,000
(0.3 percent).

***** Be sure to read the entire article. This is one of the few free
articles I?ve been able to find for the demographics of wheelchair


This site is independently owned and operated by wheelchair gonzo,
Mark E. Smith, who is also a manager and designer for Pride Mobility
Products. This site only represents and expresses the independent
views of Mark E. Smith, wheelchair user, and does not represent the
positions, opinions, or expressions of Pride Mobility Products or its
employees. is about mobility, not manufacturers,
so the voices expressed here represent only users.  It?s just a
user-helping-user thing, and no matter which brand wheels are under
your rear, we?re here to help.

The Straight Dope

As you may know, is a phenomena in itself, the
unbiased ?Consumer Reports? of wheelchairs and accessories -- with an
attitude, that is!  Our goal at is simple but
profound:  to educate consumers, while removing the stigma of
wheelchairs, viewing them on the level of other consumer goods -- and,
yes, making them ?cool? whenever possible.  All perspectives come from
wheelchair users, and the site generates no income nor accepts
advertising. ?

This site is about making a difference, not money, and if you?re one
of those looking to exploit the customer base of,
SUCK MY BATTERY!  As a result of our unbiased nature -- and the fact
that we shoot off our mouths, telling it without industry bull or hype
-- users, dealers, and manufacturers place tremendous weight in the
products we review and endorse.

***** The articles and product reviews at this site will provide a lot
of information and insights about the wheelchair user?s perspective on
wheelchairs. You might want to contact the owner of the site to get
his perspective on your product ideas. The discussion forum also looks

Method Behind the Madness: The Ys to Wheelchair Analysis

For too long wheelchairs have been stigmatized as medical equipment,
not to be understood or analyzed by anyone except those in white
coats. ?

How It?s Done
Put simply, we apply ?5 Ys? to wheelchairs.  Based on user
demographics -- such as over 90% of wheelchairs in the U.S. are funded
through insurance, and most users are allowed 1 chair every 5 years,
averaging $1,500 for a manual and $10,000 for a powerchair, and so on
-- we?ve created a model to evaluate wheelchairs for the majority of
consumers based on the 5 Ys of affordability, durability,
maneuverability, reliability, and usability.

The 5 Ys Affordability
Can users afford the chair?  Most insurers cover a $5,000 to $10,00
powerchair, but almost none cover a $20,000 to $35,000 powerchair.  A
$7,000 product, then, is far more desirable than a $23,000 product
because most consumers can?t fund a $23,000 chair.

***** The author doesn?t cite the sources for the statistical
information but you might want to contact him to discuss the article
and get more information.

National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD)
Lifetime Sports: Wheelchairs

Introduction to Wheelchairs
Today's wheelchair market offers a wide variety of choices. Selecting
a wheelchair that is best for you can be difficult. As wheelchairs
have evolved, so have users' demands. Users have become more active,
requiring better materials and additional features for improved
stability and maneuverability.

January/February 2003
No Room for Discomfort 

Resolving discomfort for individuals who use wheelchairs is a
difficult clinical issue. Wheelchair seating attempts to fulfill many
competing goals including supporting posture, managing pressure,
promoting function, and enabling safe transportation.

April 2005
Navigating the Options
Justifications for wheelchair accessories have to take into account a
wide range of factors

Manual wheelchairs have evolved over the years with many advances in
materials and design. Titanium and carbon fiber materials are allowing
lighter wheelchairs and components. Research has shown that full-time
wheelchair users prefer adjustable axle, lightweight wheelchairs
(K0005 Medicare code) compared to standard weight (K001) or
high-strength lightweight nonadjustable (K0004) wheelchairs.1,3 A
wheelchair user can also benefit from a wheelchair with an adjustable
rear axle to improve speed and efficiency of propulsion.2,3 Rear wheel
camber, as well as many other options, can also affect the efficiency
at which end users can propel themselves. The lighter, adjustable
wheelchairs tend to be more expensive. For example, a fully
accessorized titanium wheelchair can cost more than $5,000. In the
current health insurance climate, medical justification is critical to
ensure payment for wheelchairs and the components.

***** This article addresses current issue about the justification of
wheelchair accessories for insurance payment. The included table will
be of special interest.

VA Wheelchair Info: Products
Products: Wheelchairs, Scooters and Components

This section links you to the websites of product manufacturers. Use
these resources to locate information about current models, product
features, product options and local dealers or sellers of the
manufacturer's products.

These manufacturer's websites are always changing and some are much
better than others. Let the manufacturer's know you are using the
information they are providing on these sites. Use their site
resources to ask questions and get more information about their

***** Browsing this site will give you an excellent overview of the
players in this industry.

August 15, 2005
Wheel of freedom, and fortune

CALGARY -- Christian Bagg hasn't just invented and built a better kind
of wheelchair. The 30-year-old machinist has also tested it, every
waking hour for the past three years.

Mr. Bagg, a paraplegic since a snowboarding accident a decade ago, is
aiming for nothing less than a transformation in how wheelchairs are
both constructed and used. His invention was born partly of necessity
-- no commercial models could accommodate his ambitions -- and partly
from the frustration of having people who could walk tell him what he
should want in a chair. His starting point: Make the chair as narrow
as possible, so it can make it through cramped doorway, and so it
becomes less obtrusive.

"You want more of you, less of the chair," he says.

The result is the Stryker Sorano Wheelchair, a sleek, lightweight
machine that has begun production this summer in Calgary. It is the
first consumer product for Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Stryker Corp., which
is aiming to move beyond its base as a supplier of health-care
equipment to institutions. To do so, Stryker has to carve out a space
in a market where a handful of large suppliers have dominated for

That is where Mr. Bagg, and his singular perspective on product
design, enter the picture. The essential strategy is to crack the
market by treating wheelchairs like any other consumer product,
tailoring design to myriad tastes and needs.

J&J rolls out manual wheelchair
HME News,  Mar 2003

WARREN, NJ. - After a 20-year plus absence from the wheelchair market,
Johnson & Johnson will re-enter the industry this month when it starts
shipping its new iGlide manual assist wheelchair.
The former parent company of Invacare plans to do more than
manufacture the iGlide. Through its Independence Technology
subsidiary, J&J is also building a sales force and a North
Carolinabased reimbursement team to reach end-users and negotiate
funding for its new $7,900 chair.

As Independence Technologies takes the iGlide to market, J&J will be
testing the waters with its direct-to-consumer strategy. The play
works this way. To gain exposure, Independence will launch a marketing
campaign that includes advertising and direct mail. Reps on the J&J
side of an 800-number will link the interested end-user with a local
Independence product consultant. Another ,case management' company in
North Carolina will work to maximize reimbursement for the product.

What makes J&J's challenge even greater with its power assist gambit
is the difficulty of getting funding for power assist products.
Medicare has not established a reimbursement code for power assist
chairs. Attempts by established power assist companies like Frank
Mobility have come to nothing.

Open Dates -- Oct 1, 2002 12:00 PM

While most experts agree that the manual wheelchair market is steady,
many companies' product development calendars are smudged with eraser
marks. ?It's a moving target with funding,? says Christy Shimono,
senior product manager for Sunrise Medical, who says manufacturers are
pressured to develop products more quickly. ?Instead of having two
years to develop a product, you have six months,? she says.
Wary of potential changes in Medicare practice ? including the
possibility of competitive bidding programs in some states ?
manufacturers are hesitant to get too comfortable, even if the current
market is strong. ?There is so much turmoil out there with the
indecision about competitive bidding,? says Bob Crabtree, national
sales manager for Nova OrthoMed.

***** This is a fairly long article that discusses manual wheelchair
manufacturers? concerns about market conditions.


We are changing the way that consumers find and purchase wheelchairs,
electric scooters and other home medical products.

We are a whole company of people, some chair users and some not, here
to assist you in finding medical products to make life easier and
better. Unlike some web sites, our goal is not to reduce human
contact. Our goal is to offer you the form of help that works best for
you and your situation.

CMS Launches New Power Wheelchair Initiative, To Split K0011 Code
Homecare,  June 1, 2004  

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched an
aggressive three-pronged initiative focusing on power wheelchair
coverage, payment and quality controls for suppliers.

HHS' OIG released two power wheelchair inspection reports at the
hearing. One found that, on average, Medicare pays more for power
chairs than either suppliers or consumers, allowing reimbursement of
$5,297. The second report found that from a random sample of 300 power
wheelchair claims, only 13 percent actually met Medicare's coverage
criteria for the mobility equipment.

***** This is an interesting article that addresses 3rd party payment issues.

April 28, 2004

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Mark D.
McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. today announced a series of further steps on
Medicare coverage and payment policies that apply to power wheelchairs
and power scooters building on recent successes in reducing Medicare
abuse.  CMS is implementing a three-pronged approach focused on
coverage, payment and quality of suppliers of power wheelchairs.

Jan 1, 2003 12:00 PM

It may be the New Year, but 2003 is shaping up to be the same old
story for the power wheelchair market, with some new twists.

The market for power wheelchairs continues to face funding obstacles
and encroaching foreign competition, not to mention an increasingly
educated consumer base, a high claim-denial rate and a ludicrous days
sales outstanding average, according to industry officials.

K0011: A Bright Spot
While most of the power wheelchair market struggles with a myriad of
obstacles to overcome in 2003, one bright spot in the market is the
K0011 power wheelchair. ?I'm not sure about how much of the market is
high-end rehab and how much of it is K0011s, but I'd have to believe
the K0011s are a big portion of the pie,? says Jack Sheehan, director
of sales and marketing for Bruno Independent Living Aids.

Unlike some other segments of the power wheelchair market, the K0011
market doesn't struggle with reimbursement rates, according to
Sheehan, who believes there couldn't be a better time to be selling

Foreign Competition
Regardless of the power wheelchair market sector, none is impervious
to foreign competition. But some manufacturers believe the move will
be away from low-end products, as providers and end-users opt for
quality over price.

?Foreign competition has been stronger for a number of years, in the
low-end side of the products,? Kramer says. ?In the future, we see
dealers moving away from the cheapest products ? in favor of
more-reliable products ? as the K0011 population moves away from
?consumer? power chairs and toward the true ?rehab? product.?

HomeCare's editorial package targets home medical equipment providers,
most of which are family-held business with one or two branches and
revenues under $3 million. They provide patients in the home with
medical equipment (such as wheelchairs, beds and oxygen devices),
medical supplies (such as mastectomy, ostomy, wound care and diabetes
products) and a variety of in-home services (such as respiratory
therapy, infusion therapy and enteral nutrition). While these
companies generate 5-15 percent of their revenue from retail sales,
most business comes through medical referrals and is billed through
Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies.

***** Search of the website for < wheelchair > brought 677 results.
Just browsing the articles will help you get familiar with the
industry. Further searching should provide you with more focused
results. Be sure to look through all the categories as well. the
Buyer?s Guide and Industry Links look particularly relevant.


ABLEDATA provides objective information about assistive technology
products and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and
international sources. Although ABLEDATA does not sell any products,
we can help you locate the companies that do.

***** Search for < wheelchair > got almost 200 hits. I suggest that
you browse for the information you need.

Rehab Management

***** Search for < wheelchair > comes up with dozens of hits. I
suggest that you browse for the information you need.

Human Engineering Research Laboratories
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System 


wheelchair market OR statistics
wheelchair user demographics
Subject: Re: Wheelchair Statistics
From: jennifurr-ga on 16 Sep 2005 13:21 PDT

Just a comment on your idea- wheelchair users generally don't like
added weight.  Particularly those using manual wheelchairs...  Will
your A/C unit cool someone more than the heat they generate by pushing
the added weight??

You might have a chance marketing the device to amusement parks- they
often provide wheelchairs and scooters to park guests, and may like
the idea of providing a "high end" accomodation.
Subject: Re: Wheelchair Statistics
From: jessethek-ga on 23 Oct 2005 15:46 PDT
Another angle to consider is that some medical conditions specifically
impair the person's ability to regulate temperature -- in this
situation, your proposed product could be medically necessary. For
example, higher body temperatures can dramatically exacerbate multiple
sclerosis -- causing temporary blindness or paralysis. Hgh-level quads
may not be able to sweat below the level of injury.

Due to these issues, however, there already exist medically-oriented
"personal cooling systems." Just Google that phrase to see scores of

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy