Purchasing a power wheelchair is a significant investment, so it is very important that you choose the best option for your own needs.
Power wheelchairs are mostly referred to as electric wheelchairs, and they are powered by electric motors that make them mobile. They are more maneuverable and shorter in length compared to scooters. These features make them most suitable for indoor use.
Types Of Power Chairs
We have three main categories of power wheelchairs which are: mid-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and front-wheel drive. What is the difference, and how do you choose the right one for your needs?
Rear-Wheel-Drive Power Chairs
The rear-wheel-drive power chair is what is known to most people as a power chair. Depending on the model, these types of chairs come with a choice of a fixed or folding frame which can range in style. Rear-drive power chairs are simple to drive; they are equipped with joystick control for easy navigation.
The joystick can be customized and fitted on either side of the wheelchair. Most of the models in the market today can be recharged through a connection on the joystick. When using a rear-wheel drive power chair, turning around in it may require a large space since the drive wheels are at the back.
Mid Wheel Drive Power Chairs
Mid wheel drive chairs look a bit different from rear-wheel drive chairs. This is because the drive wheels are in the middle part of the power chair. The mid-wheel power chairs have a low center of gravity. This makes them more stable.
Having the drive wheels at the center of the chair makes a big difference in how it feels and drives. The space you will need when turning is smaller compared to the rear-drive power chair.
Just like rear-wheel drive chairs, the mid-wheel drive power chair are also controlled with a joystick. Because of its design, you can easily get into smaller spaces with a large chair.
Front-Wheel Drive Power Chairs
The front-wheel-drive chairs have two sets of wheels, one at the rear and one at the front. The power drive wheels in this chair are placed at the front. Front-wheel power chairs have the best performance when it comes to maneuvering and avoiding obstacles in your way. They are able to do this because the drive wheels are at the front and will be the first to come into contact with obstacles.
Hence, if you are planning on using a power wheelchair outside, this is your right choice. Another advantage of choosing the front-wheel power drive chair is that they have a low seat to floor space. This makes them more stable and secure to ride in.
Crucial Steps In Making The Right Decision For Your Needs
Consider Mobility Needs
Some people can walk when assisted at home and may only require a motorized wheelchair outside the house. But, if you will use your power chair extensively, then you need to consider how much space you will need to move around easily.
Power Wheel Placement
A power wheel can be placed at the front, middle, or rear. This significantly affects how the chair moves. Each wheel drive placement has its own advantages and disadvantages. Try a test drive on each to find the perfect one for you.
If Necessary, Get A Chair With Alternate Control
Some of the models available today can be controlled even without a joystick. You can choose to use any type of voluntary motion like:
- Sip and puff, this one controls by inhaling and exhaling air into a tube
- Voice control, it is controlled by speaking on a mike placed in the chair
- Chin, foot, or head controls