There are 3.3 million wheelchair users in the US. Yet despite the great leaps forward in mobility technology, many of them still find themselves struggling. When you have to choose a wheelchair, how do you manage to select the right one?
With so many on offer, it can seem overwhelming. Read on as we discuss our tips to find the best power wheelchair.
- Does It Need to Be Portable?
When you buy a wheelchair, you need to consider the type of usage you need from it. Some wheelchairs can be folded down for transportation. Other people will need to be in it all day and so require a heavy-duty, more comfort-focused model.
Travel wheelchairs allow you to remove the battery, base, and seat. They can then fit easily into cars or the airplane cargo hold. You will find they are also much smaller than their counterparts, so can be good if you value lightweight chairs with increased mobility.
The downside is they tend to have less padding, so can be uncomfortable for prolonged periods. A maximum weight threshold of about 300 lbs also applies to most of them.
Full-size chairs don’t fold down, but they do have a larger frame and more comfort. The seat will have added padding, and armrests and footrests will be larger. They will be a much better option if you are spending all day in a wheelchair.
Batteries on full-size chairs will also tend to run for longer, meaning you can go further on one single charge. They also tend to have a weight limit of around 300 Ibs.
Heavy-duty wheelchairs are for those over 300 Ibs. To handle the extra weight, they have reinforced wheels and a frame. The average weight for these chairs is 450 Ibs, though some can go up to 1000.
- Know the Types of Drive
Once you know the type of wheelchairs, you also need to know the drive. Like a car, different wheel types can handle extremely differently. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
Front-wheel drive chairs have powered wheels at the front and casters at the back. They tend to have a fair turning radius, which is manageable in most homes and apartments. Front-wheel drive chairs will go over bumps up to 2 inches in height.
Look for one with a battery at the back. This tends to balance out the weight, providing stability in the chair. If the wheelchair turns at higher speeds, you may find the casters at the back cause the back of the chair to ride outwards.
Mid Wheel Drive
Mid wheel has its drive system in the center of the chair. These are known for their very tight turning radius, making mobility a priority. They are ideal for city and town living.
The downside is that they are not great if you are traveling long distances, as they tend to need a van or vehicle lift. Rugged terrain can also prove a problem and it is possible for them to sink easily or lose grip when on inclines. They do not go to more than 600 Ibs in weight capacity.
Rear Wheel Drive
In this type of chair, the power system is at the back and the casters are in the front of the chair. These are the easiest chairs to handle, as having the power at the back prevents oversteer. You will find they also work well on uneven ground.
- What Seat Do You Need?
When it comes to the seat, a number of additions can be made to ensure maximum comfort. These may include contoured seating and gel cushioning. If you have a limited ability to shift your weight, then there are a few other options you may consider.
Tilt in space chairs can be one solution, that allow you to change the orientation of the chair without altering the lower body. Recliners can also help you lay back a little and elevate the legs should you need them.
- How Far Do You Plan to Go?
Another consideration is how far you plan to go in the chair. If you are only using it in the local vicinity and your home, then you can opt for one with a smaller battery. This will require more charging but reduce the weight.
Larger batteries allow you to go much further. However, they do add more weight to the wheelchair.
Most chairs are fitted with an easy-to-use joystick as standard. The armrest they are located on can be changed depending upon your preference. However, there are a number of other options should you need them.
Dual control is when a controller is fitted to the back of the wheelchair. This allows the person behind to control it.
Other than this, specialist control systems can be added as needed. These can include chin, speech, and head controls. Conduct an online search for “Electric wheelchairs near me” and speak to a few companies about which of these they are able to install.
Your wheelchair cost needs paying from somewhere and should be a consideration. First, decide if you will pay outright or set up a finance plan. Most companies will have this service available.
Do some research and see if your health insurance provider can pay the wheelchair cost. Even if they don’t, some of them will offer part of the cost.
Best Power Wheelchair
In summary, the best power wheelchair is the one right for you. Speak with local providers and ask to test some out. They may also be able to advise on the best models and makes.
If this article was informative, we have many more. From finance to health, we are here to help manage your disabiity in the coming year.