How Does an Electric Reclining Chair Work?

Electric reclining chairs are designed to make it easier for individuals with limited mobility to get in and out of a chair. These types of recliners aid those suffering from a bad back, arthritis or other physical ailment and ease the strain on hips, arms and legs. With the simple press of a button, these recliners can greatly improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from mobility-impairing symptoms.

Happy woman in wheelchair
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Electric reclining chairs help both caregivers and patients.

How It Works

Electric reclining chairs feature a silent motor that lifts and lowers the chair to the desired position. Specifically, the motor tilts the chair forward and downward, making it easier for people to get into the chair and sit comfortably. Without the tilt, people might have a harder time climbing into a seated position, but with the chair tilted, people can essentially lean into the chair and into a seated position without having to climb or prop themselves up to the seat. Once a person is sitting, she can recline the chair back for more comfort, then tilt it forward again when she is ready to get out of the chair.


Most commonly, electric reclining chairs are controlled by a hand-held remote. They tilt forward and recline backward by the press of a button. Most electric recliners offer a leg rest or an extended foot rest, which also raises and lowers by pressing a button. Electrical recliners may also feature a built-in massage system. They are available in different materials, such as cloth and leather, and many colors.

Medical Benefits

The two most prevalent health-related reasons that individuals purchase electrical recliners are osteoarthritis pains and post-surgery recuperation. Electrical recliners allow individuals with the two most common types of arthritis -- hip and knee rheumatoid arthritis -- to comfortably sit without straining the hip and knee joints. Individuals who have undergone a surgical procedure have to avoid exerting any pressure on joints, especially those in need of healing.


The cost of electrical reclining chairs can vary greatly depending on the needs of the user and the features of the chair. Electrical chairs often feature a number of positions. They can be heavy duty, accommodating people who weigh more than average. A two-position semi-recliner chair costs about $459, while a heavy-duty or high-weight-capacity chair costs about $1,139 as of 2011. Chairs are also available for petite or tall people.