Ambulatory Wheelchair Users and their Unique Experience

Ambulatory Wheelchair User

For an ambulatory wheelchair user, their experiences are always unique since they live half a life depending on a manual or electric wheelchair, and half a life living with their mobility. As such, their needs are often overlooked and some don’t consider these wheelchair users to be real disabled.

In the UAE, there is a population of wheelchair users that are ambulatory and this blog post will shed light on some of the misconceptions about ambulant wheelchair users.

What is the meaning of ambulatory wheelchair users?

The term ambulatory wheelchair user meaning refers to people who still have their mobility or ability to walk but would still sometimes need the use of a manual wheelchair or bariatric wheelchair due to age, injury or specific health conditions.

Unlike people who rely on wheelchairs for movement all the time, ambulatory wheelchair users have the option to alternate between walking and using a wheelchair.

Who are considered to be ambulatory wheelchair users?

Ambulatory wheelchair users include individuals who:

  • Suffer from musculoskeletal conditions that make walking difficult
  • Have chronic illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, and neurological conditions like Cerebral Palsy or Spinal Cord injuries
  • Are recovering after surgeries or injuries
  • Experience fluctuations in energy levels and physical abilities

Ambulatory Wheelchair User

Is using a wheelchair a sign of total immobility?

Using a wheelchair is not a sign of total immobility. Not everyone who uses it has lost the use of their limbs and it’s wrong to assume that they’re dependent on their wheelchair. Ambulatory wheelchair users often rely on their wheelchairs during the times they need equipment to enhance mobility.

Do ambulatory wheelchair users experience discrimination?

Unfortunately, yes. These wheelchair users not only experience discrimination, they also experience scepticism and judgement from those who question the legitimacy of their disability since they sometimes use the wheelchair, and sometimes not.

This societal misconception is challenging for these wheelchair users who feel invalidated when asked about their condition. 

How can I be supportive of ambulatory wheelchair users?

Thanks to UAE’s advocacy for accessibility and inclusivity, mobility solutions specialists like Gilani Mobility have the platform to develop and promote the best wheelchair for ambulatory users. Aside from these initiatives and innovations, here are some other ways to be supportive and inclusive:

Reading Suggestion: Understanding Wheelchair Seat Belt Options

Educate yourself

Since the ambulatory wheelchair user statistics is 1 out of 3, it’s more common than we think. Educate yourself about the challenges and experiences of these wheelchair users to better understand their conditions. 

Respect their independence

Avoid making assumptions about a person’s abilities or mobility. Respect their choices, and ask if assistance is needed before offering help.

Accessible spaces

Advocate for and create accessible spaces to accommodate wheelchair users. This includes the installation of Wheelchair ramps, and stairlift elevators, and making restroom facilities accessible.

Promote inclusivity

Encourage inclusivity in social and recreational activities. Ensure that the events are wheelchair-friendly.

Be open to communication

If you have questions, ask respectfully instead of jumping to conclusions or misjudging wheelchair users when you see them not using the wheelchair. Ambulatory wheelchair users are often willing to share their experiences and educate others. 


What is an ambulatory wheelchair user?

Ambulatory wheelchair users are individuals who still have mobility. They sometimes use a wheelchair because of age, energy level, and medical conditions which temporarily affect their ability to walk independently. 

Reading Suggestion: Embracing Mobility with Global Village Wheelchair

What percentage of wheelchair users are ambulatory?

The percentage of ambulatory wheelchair users per country is different since there are some ambulatory wheelchair users who didn’t report their condition. However, it’s estimated that in the USA, the percentage is at 6.6%, while in the UK, out of the 1.2 million wheelchair users of them are ambulatory.