What are wheelchair gloves?
They are accessories that protect and support your hands, especially your palm and thumb. They are in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. We hope our guide will be of help in choosing a glove that best fits your needs.
What could happen to my hands if I don’t wear gloves?
In best-case scenarios, your skin will get very thick eventually. The problem is what happens before then. There are some changes that you just can’t avoid when you start using a wheelchair, like an increased muscle mass in your torso and arms or, at the very least, a slight thickening in the skin of your palms. The process you go through to get to that point is different though and by wearing gloves you spare yourself a lot of pain. It’s the pain of various abrasions and blisters, maybe a cut or two, if you’re unlucky.
They can also help with the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Yes, that isn’t just something that happens to artists, it can happen to everybody who does repetitive hand motions. Other factors increase the probability of it happening, like previous injuries and conditions (for example, inflammation and nerve damage), sex (women are more likely to develop it than men), obesity, alterations of fluids (fluid retention being a big problem) and workplace factors.
It manifests as tingling or numbness and weakness in your limb. Fortunately, it can be treated, whether with drugs or surgery, so if you feel the symptoms persisting or interfering with your normal activities, we advise that you go in for a consult with your doctor. It’s good to have a professional opinion and an official diagnostic so you can have peace of mind no matter the outcome.
However, there are also preventative measures that you can take so it doesn’t reach that point. You can reduce the force of your grip, relax your hand by taking breaks, avoid straining your wrists, and take care to have warm hands. Some of these activities are easily done by wearing gloves.
What are the characteristics of wheelchair gloves?
Wheelchair gloves have to be sturdy. It’s their most important characteristic. There are no two ways about it, wheelchair gloves see a lot of use and they have to be durable. Usually, it’s something that’s mostly done by reinforcing the palm and cushioning it, but also the same purpose may be aided by other features (like good materials and stitching).
Glove size is determined by a few measurements. You will need the maximum length of your hand (the extreme points, the top of your middle finger and the bottom of the palm), the maximum width of your palm (this is a measurement taken immediately after your knuckles, though in some cases you will need the palm circumference) and, for a full-fingered one, the length of your middle finger.
The sizing in all gloves works after the same principle but, with each brand putting their twist on it, the measuring process can end up being a bit different. We recommend that you try to look over the suggested sizes that the brand of gloves you’re thinking of purchasing has displayed. It’s better to check before buying.
There are wheelchair gloves made out of all kinds of fabrics: leather, nylon, Lycra (which is a type of spandex), polyester, and more. It’s great if you can remember how every material behaves, but it’s not necessary. What you need to watch for is that the material covering your palm is durable and cushioning, and that the one on the back of your hand is breathable and maybe water-resistant. If you remember this rule of thumb, you should be all right.
There are many types of gloves for wheelchairs. We can’t even be sure we encountered all of them, but we’ll list the ones we’re familiar with. Starting with kind-of-gloves (wraps and cuffs that serve the same purpose), to the type of finger coverage (fingerless gloves or full-fingers ones), to whom they are meant for (this is a two-pronged category. One prong refers to normal gloves or easy fit ones that are meant for disabilities where hand paralysis is included like quadriplegics; and the other refers to gender and age—men, women, girls, boys, unisex adults, unisex children, and one size fits all), and finally those with special features (like wrist support or sure grip).
1. Rebo Wheelchair Gloves
Why is this item on our list?
Best overall. These wheelchair gloves check the most attributes on our list. They are durable but comfortable, practical and stylish, and made out of good materials. The gloves offer a warranty and they’re at a good price.
Pros and cons
We’ll talk about warranty first, Rebo is offering 60 day-return. That’s less than others on our list but more than most. The returns are accepted for all reasons, not only manufacturing flaws. If you decide you just don’t want them anymore and you are still in those 60 days, you can send them back and you should get your money back with no questions asked. Well, you might be asked for feedback, to improve the product in the future, but no one will oppose the return.
Leather is used for the palm, its pattern improving the ability to grasp. Its primary role, though, is padding—providing the support inherent in wheelchair gloves, plus an anti-shock feature that is unique to these. The back of the glove and the fingers are made out of a stretchy material, being easy to remove. Pull tabs on the fingers also help with taking them off. Additionally, the material is breathable and moisture-wicking which makes it so the hands stay dry. This too improves your grip and, at the same time, increases comfort.
We mentioned that these unisex gloves are both elegant—due to their minimalist design and clean lines of solid color—and that they are practical and durable too. Everything we’ve said so far can have a spot in those last two categories and we aren’t done. The Rebo gloves have dense stitching, which further helps their durability, and hardy wrist closure to secure it in place. As you can see, the stylish design isn’t just an aesthetic choice.
As far as disadvantages go, we don’t see that many. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Take the design, for example, it’s sleek, true, but some people might take issue with the disabled symbol on the back of the hands since it is pretty big. There are fewer chances that you’ll lose them or that they’d get stolen, but if that’s something that bothers you, it’s still something that counts as a con.
The Rebo Wheelchair gloves are, in our opinion, the best overall wheelchair gloves.
2. Care+Wear Unisex Wheelchair Gloves
Why is this item on our list?
Full-fingered gloves. Although unsuitable for some, for others they can be a game-changer. They’re meant for people who live in cold climates all year round or simply visit; they can also be useful in winter, rain, or any other time you feel like you need to use them. Metal leaches heat and a great way to protect your hands against that are full-fingered gloves. Drops in temperature are enough reason for you to own a pair so it’s a good idea to have one around even if the climate of your home is mild.
Pros and cons
These gloves have reflective material included in the design. That’s very important at night because, due to the lower stature that comes with being in a wheelchair, drivers and other pedestrians might not expect somebody at that height. Accidents might happen so to avoid them, we should—of course, allow for the possibility of a short or disabled person, but until that happens—take care to draw attention to us. You can put reflective material on your wheelchair, wear a vest, and even wear some on your gloves. That makes sense when you think of the possibility of them being outside the width of the chair, but even if we don’t take into consideration, there’s nothing wrong with an abundance of reflective material.
Continuing our list of pros, the gloves have micro-dots on the thumbs. That decreases the probability of your hand slipping off the wheelchair and the chance of callousness. Another finger-related feature is that the Care+Wear gloves have touchscreen conductive material on the entire surface of your fingers so you can use your devices while wearing them.
The gloves are water-resistant. They are made out of nylon, neoprene poly/spandex, polyurethane, and rubber. These unisex wheelchair gloves can be machine-washed and have Velcro tabs on your wrists to secure them in place. They also have diagonally placed zippers so you can slide them on and off easily.
That being said, the fingers of the gloves might make removing them harder. People who have conditions that include paralyzed hands might struggle with putting them on themselves, but the well-placed zipper should help with that. Another weakness that these gloves have is that they don’t match their sizes very well; they have a tendency to run small so you should take that into account when purchasing.
The Care+Wear Unisex Wheelchair Gloves is a useful and accessible addition.
3. SCAVOR Padded Fingerless Mountain Biking Mesh Gloves
Why is this item on our list?
Long warranty. When buying a product you’ve haven’t seen or, in some cases, haven’t needed before, you are acutely conscious of the risk involved. What if they aren’t what you need? What if you simply don’t like them? What happens then? With these gloves there’s no such risk involved: the company offers a 365-day money-back guarantee. This also serves as a reassurance that they are long-lasting. No company will offer a year’s warranty for products that don’t last three months.
Pros and cons
The Scavor gloves are made out of breathable mesh material. That’s great for reducing the amount of perspiration that’s going to form on your hands. Added to that, the fabric is moisture-wicking, which means that it’s designed to move the moisture that does accumulate away from the body and the fabric. It’s quicker to dry, too, and there are no odors associated with these types of gloves.
What’s more, they have a full thumb, to keep the finger clean and protected from the dirt that gathers on the manual wheelchair. If you keep your wheelchair clean and there aren’t other elements in your environment to deposit the grime, be it dust or precipitation, this feature can still have uses for you. The microfiber fabric on the thumb makes it easy to wipe off the sweat on your forehead during summer or when you’ve made a significant effort.
On the palms, there’s silicone padding. It’s in a pattern to make it easy to both grip your wheelchair and well-cushioned to support your weight on your hands. The gloves also have a tab making them easier to take off and the breathable material is also stretchy which means they’re easy to put on too. They are secured in place by a Velcro strap.
A possible disadvantage that we’re seeing is sizing. Though they are advertised as being for wheelchairs too they are also advertised as being for men and boys. If you’re a woman and fit the sizes that they provide, however, that shouldn’t be a problem.
The Scavor Padded Fingerless Mountain Biking Mesh Gloves are a risk-free acquisition to protect your hands.
4. Sammons Preston Wheelchair Pushing Cuffs
Why is this item on our list?
Good starter cuff. We understand that you may be confused as to what kind of glove is the best fit for you. Do you need a pair with pullers? Do you want a full-fingered glove? Do you need your thumb covered? This is a cuff. It only covers the palm and it could be what you’re looking for or it may help show you where you want additional protection while keeping your palms safe.
Pros and cons
Besides being a good idea to start with something small and then build up toward your personalized glove, chosen specifically to conform to your needs, we can’t neglect another aspect of the usefulness of cuffs. They are primarily made for quadriplegics, as evidenced by easiness to slide on and back off. The lack of finger separation, while still being protected, further points to the cuffs being great for conditions that include hand paralysis.
We mentioned twice now that it has protection but we never said what kind. The Sammons Preston cuffs are made out of suede leather. You can choose the option with non-slip material, which includes non-slip Dycem fabric on the palms for a better grip. Dycem is a company that specializes in good-grip products that mostly used as aids for a whole range of people, disabled and able-bodied. They have many kinds of anti-slip mats, coaster, jar openers, and more.
The cuffs are made to fit all sizes, having an adjustable strap. That’s another good thing if you’re only starting wearing wheelchair gloves. And they’re made for all genders. What’s more, the open finger design allows you to use your touch-screen devices and doesn’t interfere with your handling of other objects. As an addition to the first point in the pro category, they have easily grasped d-rings which further increase their accessibility, making them great for independent use.
In the disadvantages column, we find some of the same points that we have written as advantages. More specifically, you can have a design that fits all sizes but it’s usually not an exact fit. The leather straps, in this case, are a bit long. If you’ve got smaller hands, it’s probably a good bet that you’re going excess material in the leather straps and—possibly, depending on the shape of your hands—on the palm of your hands. Also, the standard version (without the grip material), tends to have a shorter lifespan.
The Sammons Preston cuffs are a good starting point for wheelchair gloves.
5. RIMSports Gym Gloves
Why is this item on our list?
Women’s gloves. As you saw above, there are gloves designed specifically for men and boys, so in the spirit of balancing the list, we found women’s gloves. They aren’t made for wheelchairs, but there have been women wheelchair users who found them the best in terms of comfort.
Pros and cons
Since they are made for weightlifting, they slightly adjust your hand at rest to be in a position meant for gripping. This way, when you’re suddenly moving, your hand is naturally in the perfect pose to grasp the chair. That doesn’t make them any less comfortable for pushing your weight up on your palms. The gloves have high-quality leather padding on the interior, about 0.4” (1 cm) of it, to protect your hands from what you’re grasping or supporting yourself on.
They’re lightweight at only 3 ounces, making them easy to carry in a pocket, especially considering the small dimensions. You can easily use your touchscreen devices since they’re fingerless. The RIMSports gloves have a diagonal strap because they felt that normal straps that close horizontally pinch and hurt when you bend your wrists. They are available in eight different colors and RIMSports also makes them for men.
As for the materials the gloves are made out of, they have the above-mentioned leather, and light Lycra material that breaths so your hands will sweat less. They’re comfortable, solid, and the padding allows a good grip besides the protection that it offers. The way they’re designed, for weightlifting and rowing and other such sports, it would make sense to give the ability to grasp confidently and to inspire the security to do it for longer knowing that your hands will be all right. The company, RIMSports, also offers assurances that they will maintain their quality for years to come.
However, these gloves aren’t specifically made for wheelchairs. In fact, they aren’t even advertised as such. That’s a big disadvantage and one we didn’t feel like we could omit.
RIMSports Gym Gloves are a good choice for women.
6. ZippyRooz Toddler & Little Kids Bike Gloves
Why is this item on our list?
Kids’ gloves. Unfortunately, there are children in wheelchairs too; some at a really young age. Why shouldn’t they get protection for their hands too? There’s no reason for it, but that doesn’t seem to have an impact on the market. There are relatively few made for toddlers and little children, and these are our recommendation.
Pros and cons
ZippyRooz gloves are made specifically for children. How can we tell? They are designed to have a soft material over the thumb to use in case of runny noses. What can be more child-appropriate than that? Okay, so other things fit that category but ZippyRooz really comes through for the children with this one.
Another way to tell they made for children is that they come in small sizes. You’ll find out if there’s a size for your child if you follow the link, but as long as the child is between one and eight years, chances are that it is. They also advise you to order a size up if you’re confused; for example, if one measurement falls within a size but the other doesn’t, you should choose a bigger size.
The gloves have loops to make it easier for the child to remove themselves or for you to have something to grab onto. They have bright, attractive colors and a wide opening so they’re comfortable to put on. Once on, they have ample padding, without making it difficult to grip onto objects. They also work just as well for any gender. You can find the full-fingered version if that’s your preference and they’re simple to clean too—they can be machine-washed.
But, as a disadvantage to being so easy to clean, the materials used are polyester and nylon. It’s not leather, but, on the other hand, that might be a smart choice considering how quickly children grow. And, since we’re on the topic of weaknesses, they aren’t made for wheelchairs. People report using them for that purpose with good results, which is why they’re included here, but it’s an aspect we couldn’t in good conscience gloss over.
The Zippy Rooz gloves are a great option for toddlers and small children.
How much are the wheelchair gloves going to cost me?
That depends on the type of gloves you’re getting, but generally up to $50, give or take $10. There isn’t so much variety in the price for it to matter as much as with other products. You might find a pair at over $100, but those are usually luxury items.
How are wheelchair gloves different from other types of gloves?
The main difference is durability. Gloves made for wheelchair-use should take into account that when that person moves they use the chair and that gloves made for it rank a lot of hours simply moving through the house or small chores like grocery shopping. And the use of the wheelchair can only go up from there. That means that a person who isn’t very active is going to use the gloves a little less than a professional athlete in a sport that requires them. Naturally, wheelchair gloves must be more durable.
Now, that doesn’t mean that other gloves don’t work for this purpose—though a full-thumb is always good—but they aren’t supposed to be as long-lasting. They simply aren’t made for sustained activity. In reality, however, you’ll probably find other types of gloves more resistant to damage than some wheelchair gloves. This is where research comes in.
Are gloves for quadriplegics different than normal wheelchair gloves?
When the hands are paralyzed as part of the condition, the situation changes a bit. It’s important to know, for example, if there’s a caretaker. That person could help so there’s less need for special gloves. If we’re talking about an independent wheelchair user with such a condition, cuffs are recommended. We have an example on the list of recommendations (the fourth one from the top), they are somewhere between wraps and fingerless gloves. Another type that is adapted for quadriplegics needs are gloves with diagonal zippers (second from the top on our list).
How long does a pair of gloves last?
Companies that make the gloves have between a 30-day return policy (with or without manufacturing defects) to 365 days and others assure users that they are going to last for years. Still, that depends a lot on how much you use them. If you’re using them more they’re going to last less, and that’s not meant to blame you, it just means you need them. Some highly active people report that they are going through a pair of gloves in about six months.
What sort of sports can you play when you’re in a wheelchair?
There’s a wide range of sports that can be played in a wheelchair and more get adapted all the time. From the sports who don’t need that many adaptations, like archery, bowling, weight lifting, fencing, and sailing, to single sports like racing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, and mountain biking, to sports played in pairs like tennis (there’s even a way for you to play with your able-bodied loved ones, called up-down doubles), paragliding, and tandem skydiving, and finally to team sports like basketball, football, softball, soccer, and hockey. And that is by no means a complete list.
Most require some adaptation. Rules are almost always adapted, but equipment gets his turn too. The wheelchair suffers the most modifications, be it the shape of the wheels, cambered (at an angle, as if they want to touch at the top) to increase stability and make it more easier to reach them, to the number of wheels, sometimes little wheels are added for support or the wheelchair gets completely transformed (like with mountain biking where a four-wheeled rig is used, complete with hand breaks, similar to a cart), or they lose their wheels completely (in surfing or snowboarding). Other times, extra mobility aids are used, like in fencing where there’s a frame to keep the wheelchair still and secure.
We recommend a talk to your doctor first to make sure you’re up to it. The ‘it’ may vary depending on your condition, there are many sports out there and they don’t all require the same conditions to be met. Once you come to a decision on what sport(s) you want to play, remember to have fun and enjoy it.