A Quick Guide to Buying a Power Wheelchair
What is a Power Wheelchair?
Power wheelchairs are mobility devices for people with limited strength, stamina, and dexterity. They are used to help people get around for extended periods of time with ease.
The power wheelchair is made up of a power base, a seat, and the controls. In general, a power wheelchair:
- has a tight turn radius
- is powered by a rechargeable battery
- can be used indoors and outdoors
- is easily controlled with a joystick
There are many variations of power wheelchairs that are designed to accommodate different day to day needs.
Choosing a Power Wheelchair
What is a turning radius?
The turning radius of your power wheelchair is the minimum amount of space required to complete a 180⁰ “U turn”. A small turning radius allows a chair to be maneuvered in tight spaces.
What class of power wheelchair is best for me?
Before buying a power wheelchair, it is important to consider how and where you will use it. There are 3 general classes of power chairs:
Travel Power Chairs
Travel power chairs are light weight and compact, they can be easily disassembled so you can take them wherever you go! These chairs perform best on smooth surfaces and turn easily in tight spaces. Since these chairs are small and lightweight, they are suited for people under 250lbs, and under 6 feet tall.
Full-Sized Power Chairs
Full-sized power chairs use powerful batteries that will keep you going all day, and can include features like power elevating seats, and all-terrain tires. These chairs can accommodate up to 300lbs and stand up to everyday use.
Heavy-Duty Power Chairs
Heavy-duty power chairs provide all the features of the full-sized power chair, but with upgraded frames, motors, and batteries to ensure optimal support for a higher weight customer. The weight and width added to these chairs creates a safe and stable base for people up to 450lbs.
What type of wheel drive is best for me?
The drive wheels of a power wheelchair are connected to the motor and propel the chair.
Much like choosing a car with either front wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the type of drive wheel you choose is based on how and where you want to use your chair.
There are 3 types of drive wheels to choose from:
Chairs with rear-wheel drive are noted for their high speeds, and increased stability. However, they have a large turning radius, and do not climb obstacles easily.
Chairs with front-wheel drive have their drive wheels in front of the seat. They pass over uneven terrain and small obstacles easily. These chairs have a lower overall speed.
Mid-wheel drive chairs have a small turning radius and are ideal for maneuvering in tight spaces. However, this type of chair is not ideal for uneven terrain.
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