Powered Wheelchair Buyers Guide
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This guide is set out to help you find the type of powered wheelchair that would best suit you.
When buying a powered wheelchair there are a few things to consider that are just as important as each other.
How easy do you find it to manoeuvre?
There are dozens of different types of power chairs out there with various adaptations and gimmicks but in reality there are only two things that will make them drive differently
(1) The drive wheel placement - Depending on where the drive wheels (the big wheels) are depends on how the chair will react in certain scenarios-see below to see which one may best suit you.
(2) The program within the control - Most powered wheelchairs are programmable and we are able to adjust most settings such as speed, acceleration, sensitivity etc to suit a user’s driving style.
Is it comfortable?
Check that the seat is wide enough (consider a thick coat you may be wearing over the winter months). Also check that the seat is deep enough, when you sit on the chair with your feet on the footrests you don’t want the crease of your knee to be rubbing on the canvas or the cushion as over time this will become sore.
Foot/leg rests Make sure that the leg rests are able to be adjusted to suit you, everybody is different and you will have a preference to how you want to be sat in the power chair but from experience, its often best to have your knees very slightly elevated, reducing the pressure on the bottom of your thighs against the seat base.
What adaptations are available for it?
Power chairs come with no end of adaptations such as calf supports, elevating leg rests, head rests, lumber supports, rise functions, tilt functions etc- not all chairs come with the option to add these so it’s worth checking what is and isn’t available for the model you are looking at.
What are its limitations?
How much weight can it carry? We would advise a powered wheelchair with a maximum user weight limit of around 20% more than what you weigh (for example if you are 18 stone in weight buy a chair with a user limit of at least 21 stone) to prolong the life of the power chair and to account for any fluctuations in weight. What’s the steepest slope that it is capable of climbing? This is not important if you are only to be using the power chair indoors but if you are going outside and have a steep driveway or hill to climb check this out. How far will it go? As a rough guide if a power chair says it will do 6-15 miles to a charge it will be for occasional use, day trips or maybe light indoor use, you would usually require a power chair that does 20 miles plus for everyday use.
Does it fit where you need it to?
Will it fit through your doorways, into bathrooms etc.. does it need to fold for storage/ transport etc, etc.
If you are still unsure of the type of powered wheelchair that you might require please give us a call we would be happy to help, all of our advice is no obligation.
Differences between drive types on Powered Wheelchairs.
There are 3 different types of drive on powered wheelchairs;
Front wheel drive
(big wheels at the front)
This type of wheelchair is great for indoor use as they are usually very responsive when you turn and comfortable at low speeds.
Mid wheel drive
(will have 6 wheels, big wheels in the middle)
This type of drive system is usually able to turn on the spot and will feel much more stable and controlled over uneven terrain at speed than the FWD and RWD variants, lots of different indoor and outdoor models use this system. This type of chair will often have lots of moving parts so consider maintenance costs.
Rear wheel drive
(big wheels at the rear)
This type of system again is found on both indoor and outdoor power chairs, it has been developed by some manufactures to self-correct and steer straight on uneven terrain but generally they’re not quite as smooth. Great for indoor use as they are
very predictable and occasional outdoor use.
So what makes mid wheel drive powered wheelchairs different on uneven surfaces?
Most pavements in the UK slope slightly towards the road for drainage purposes, now if you are driving a rear wheel drive power chair the front wheels are naturally going to want to go down towards the road so you will have to correct it by turning slightly away. A powered wheelchair with the drive wheels at the front will want to do the opposite, however a powered wheelchair with the drive wheels in the middle will always steer straight as the front and rear castors cancel each other’s urges to go down the slope towards the road out.
What’s the difference between tyre types?
Power chairs often come with either solid (puncture proof) or pneumatic (pump up) tyres. The difference aside from the solid tyres being puncture proof is the level of comfort. Pneumatic tyres offer a slightly softer ride but you will run the risk of getting a flat tyre.