Folding chairs are generally low-end designs, whose predominant advantage is being able to fold, generally by bringing the two sides together.However this is largely an advantage for part-time users who may need to store the wheelchair more often than use it.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.Everest and Jennings saw the business potential of the invention and went on to become the first mass-market manufacturers of wheelchairs.
Another innovation in rigid chair design is the installation of shock absorbers, such as Frog Legs, which cushion the bumps over which the chair rolls.
There will generally also be a separate seat cushion.
The larger rear wheels usually have push-rims of slightly smaller diameter projecting just beyond the tyre; these allow the user to manouevre the chair by pushing on them without requiring them to grasp the tyres.
A few wheelchairs attempt to combine the features of both designs by providing a fold-to-rigid mechanism in which the joints are mechanically locked when the wheelchair is in use.
Many rigid models are now made with ultralight materials such as aircraft-grade aluminium and titanium, and wheelchairs of composite materials such as carbon-fibre have started to appear.They may include specialized seating adaptions, individualized controls, and may be specific to particular activities, as seen with sports wheelchairs and beach wheelchairs.