A power wheelchair offers the benefits of a traditional wheelchair combined with the ease of an electric motor. Power wheelchairs are ideal not only for anyone with mobility issues but also for those who may have a limited arm, hand or upper body strength/movement.
As a power wheelchair requires minimal effort to operate, it can also help to eliminate the need for an attendant to push the chair. Independence of the user is enhanced.
Also known as electric wheelchairs, they feature a smaller turning radius than a mobility scooter, making them suitable for use in the home or an aged care facility. This enhanced manoeuvrability makes them much better for indoor use.
The seating on a power wheelchair can be anything from a standard captain style seat right through to a fully customised seating system that has to suit the user.
Some power chairs provide power options for personalised requirements designed to facilitate positioning and give better support. These features combined are ideal for users with complex or high-level needs.
Power chairs are most often used by those who have long-term conditions and can no longer walk short distances without risk of falling. They are also ideal for those who can no longer achieve independence in a manual chair, or who may have been bed-or-chair bound for some time and are moving to a rehabilitation stage. Most commonly, power chairs are for users with a spinal injury.
Power chairs fall into three main categories: Rear Wheel Drive, Mid Wheel Drive, and Front Wheel Drive.
Rear Wheel Drive chairs have the bulk of the weight of the chair positioned at the back as this is where the drive wheels are placed. Power and torque across difficult terrains are improved.
Mid Wheel Drive chairs positioning of the drive wheels are directly under the seat in the middle part of the wheelchair, which improves the turning radius making it ideal for tight spaces.
Front-Wheel Drive chairs offer better climbing of obstacles and tighter turning. The drive wheels are at the front, and the chassis clearance makes it easier to transfer. This positioning also allows the chair to move in closer to tables, sinks and cupboards.