Being stuck in a wheelchair is not a picnic, and people who have to live that way have low to no mobility, which is why they need to find different strategies to regain their independence. Lucky for them, there are several ways one can achieve that. Technology has advanced a lot lately, which is why you could say that being in a wheelchair is not as bad as it used to be. One of the things that will make your life a little bit easier is the wheelchair lap tray. It may seem a simple wheelchair accessory, but it is, in fact, an item that will make your life a little bit easier.
The benefits of using a wheelchair lap tray
People tend to dismiss simple things, but that is unnecessary. Even simple things can improve your quality of life. Take the wheelchair lap tray, for example. It is a simple so-called table, but it can better your life. Here is how:
- You can eat more comfortably – eating in a wheelchair can sometimes prove to be a difficult task. It depends on the table most of the times. For example, if the dinner table is too low for your wheelchair to fit underneath, you may end up sitting too far from it. On the other hand, if the table is too high, it is not like you can adjust the height of your wheelchair, which leads to another uncomfortable position. However, you cannot go wrong with a wheelchair lap tray. It is positioned at the ideal height, and you can eat comfortably. No more awkward positions while eating.
- You can eat anywhere – if you do not like sitting at the dinner table, and instead you want to eat your meal in front of the TV, you can. That is the beauty of a lap tray. The dining table can be anywhere you want. You do not have to rely on coffee tables or overbed tables. You just set up the tray and eat outside in the middle of the backyard for all you care. It is convenient.
- It is versatile – it is not like the wheelchair lap tray is for food only. You can do other stuff as well. You can read, hold your laptop, sew, or anything else you enjoy doing and requires support. In fact, you can use it for whatever you want. There is no limit. Unless we are talking about weight. Wheelchair lap trays do come with weight limits, so do not push that.
- They come off – honestly, if a tray does not come off, it is not worth buying. In fact, I do not even know if they make those. You can use the tray only when you need it, and when you do not, just take it off and be done with it. Most models are easy to set up and bring down, so you will have no issues with it.
I am not aware of any disadvantages that a wheelchair lap tray can bring. Some people may think that wheelchair users become isolated in the household is they use a lap tray and do not eat at the dinner table with everyone else. However, I think that is a personal matter that has nothing to do with the tray itself. That is a decision of the user.
How to choose the best wheelchair lap tray?
Now that you decided you want a lap tray, let’s see how you choose the best one. It is not difficult, and you can always ask for help, but keep in mind that there are a few criteria that make a wheelchair lap tray the best. Here are a few:
- Hard top vs. soft top – this is a matter of preference, and it depends on what you use the tray for. If you use it exclusively for food, you may want to go with the hard top wheelchair lap tray. Soft tops are not as stable, to say the least. They are still comfortable, but that depends on the model and what they are made of. A soft top wheelchair lap tray provides more comfortable support for your hands and elbows. Some people actually prefer to buy it for the precise reason that it is comfortable. The padding will protect your hands, and it is more pleasant to the touch.
- Wood vs. plastic – this is yet another matter of preference. Wood may be a little bit cheaper than plastic, but it tends to deteriorate faster. It may also lose its color due to friction. It can splinter if it is of bad quality, and may make things unpleasant. If you choose a high-quality wood tray, that will not happen, but you will spend more money. Plastic, on the other hand, comes with multiple benefits. It will not splinter, it is easy to clean, and as you may expect, it is cheap. Most people go for plastic, but you can do as you will.
- Size – not all wheelchair lap trays are created equal, just like not all wheelchairs are the same size. That is why you need to read the specification carefully so that you purchase the right fit for you. If the tray is too big, you cannot secure it to your chair, and if it is too small…well, you get the point. It needs to be the exact size of the wheelchair. Otherwise, you may end up with the wrong tray and send it back from where you ordered it.
- Assembly and disassembly – there are multiple systems out there, but I think that Velcro provides the most convenient installation. After all, if you are in a wheelchair, it is not like you can get up and install the tray. But velcro is easy to handle, and it does not require tools or too much body strength. It is fast and easy, just like you need it to be.
- Weight – if you want to handle the tray yourself, it needs to be lightweight. It is difficult to manage a heavy tray, especially if you are on your own. After all, this item is supposed to make your life easier, not make it harder.
- Additional features – the more useful features a wheelchair lap tray has, the better. You can look for a tray that has a cup holder, for example. That way you can move around with your cup on the tray. A raised molding comes in handy as well. That way, if you spill something on the tray, it will not go all over the floor.
What is the best wheelchair lap tray?
Looking for the best wheelchair lap tray is not challenging, especially now that you know what to look for. However, if you are still having trouble on finding what you need, here are three models that I think you will enjoy.
Skil-Care Removable Wheelchair Lap Tray
The tray from Skil-Care is a soft top model that provides plenty of comfort while you use it. However, it can be used as a hard top as well, which makes it more convenient for meals. All you have to do is turn it over, and there you have it. It turns from a soft top to a hard top in no time. People who have been using this model declared themselves more than satisfied with the product, and I see no reason why you should not as well.
The tray is made for wheelchairs that have a width from 16 inches to 18 inches. It comes with a secure strapping system that will keep the tray stable while you use it. However, it may take some time for you to learn how to assemble it. That is because the straps go around the wheelchair, in the back. You can ask for help when you need it, but you will be able to do it yourself after a few tries. After you put it in place, you secure it with Velcro, which I find most convenient.
The tray weighs 3.6 pounds, which should not be very difficult to handle. It is made of plastic and has a soft plastic cover that is waterproof. It is effortless to clean and maintain, which is why most people love it. Overall, this is an excellent product, and aside from the strapping situation that you may confront at first, this is the ideal wheelchair lap tray for you. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
NEPPT Wheelchair Tray Table
The wheelchair lap tray from NEPPT has a hard top that makes it ideal for meals or other activities that need stable support. You can use it to put your laptop, play games, read, or anything else that you may want to do. It is made of ABS plastic steel, but it is still lightweight with only 3.1 pounds in weight.
The fixation system consists of straps and Velcro. It is easy to install, and disassembly is effortless. The use is more than convenient. It comes with a secure easy-release lap cushion that was designed to provide anterior posture support. At the same time, it secures the user while in a seated position. Keep in mind that this is not a restraint.
The tray features a raised molding that will prevent you from spilling liquids on the floor. At the same time, it will stop small items from rolling off the tray. It comes with a cup holder that will allow you to move around without spilling anything. The NEPPT tray is very easy to clean, and as for the fit, this model will fit almost all standardized wheelchairs on the market. However, keep in mind that this is 22.8 inches by 20.9 inches, so measure your wheelchair before buying. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
DMI Wheelchair Tray
Last but not least, the wheelchair lap tray from DMI is yet another convenient item that is meant to improve your life a little bit. You can use it for almost everything, and the hard top will provide the support you need for your daily activities. It fits virtually all standard wheelchairs with fixed arms.
This tray also features a raised molding that will prevent liquids from going on the floor or small items from rolling off. The design is a semi-circle that makes it convenient to use and carry different items around. The product is made of beautifully finished wood, which is why it is a bit heavier than the previous two models. It weighs 5.6 pounds, but it is still easy to handle.
As for the installation, it is very easy to achieve. The hook and loop Velcro straps will keep the tray secure, and the straps that go around the wheelchair make this tray stable. The item is easy to clean. As for the measurements, this wheelchair lap tray is 24 inches by 20 inches, so make sure that you measure your wheelchair before purchasing this model. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
While I think that all three products will do an excellent job at holding whatever you deem necessary, there is one that I like most. I am talking about the NEPPT Wheelchair Tray Table. I believe it has the most helpful features. The cup holder comes in handy, and the fact that this model is so lightweight makes it easy to handle. Sure, it may take some time before you get the hang of installing it on your wheelchair, but after a while, you will get used to it and will be able to do it effortlessly. Not to mention that it is not expensive. I believe that this is one of the best wheelchair lap trays you can find in this price range.
I hope that you think a wheelchair lap tray is more than convenient. You can keep items on it, you can have a meal comfortably, and you can enjoy all sorts of activities that imply keeping items at hand. It may be a simple lap tray, but I guarantee that it will prove to be most useful. Click here to buy on Amazon