A power wheelchair is a great way for disabled people to gain some independence. With navigational controls and an electric motor, users can regain their mobility and move around in a more practical manner than they can in a standard non-electric model. However, as there are a number of models on the market, it pays to do your research before purchasing. In this article, we’re going to explain the most important things you need to consider before buying an electric wheelchair.
1. Your Needs
The first thing you need to consider is what you will be using the wheelchair for. If you can walk with assistance around the home, perhaps with a cane, for example, then you may only need a motorized wheelchair for outdoor use. If, however, you’re planning on using the wheelchair in all environments, you will need to think about your home and find a chair that is compatible with it. Things like the turning radius of the chair, as well as the height and width, will be of more importance to those who need the wheelchair at home. Luckily, power wheelchairs come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s best to know what you need before you begin your search.
2. Where are You Traveling?
The next thing to consider is where you will be traveling to. If, for example, you are going to use your power wheelchair to go to the shops, or around town, you will want to look for a durable model that is suitable for outdoor use. The wheels will need to be suitable for sidewalks or roads and the material of the wheelchair needs to be able to withstand the elements. If you are able to drive and can transport the wheelchair, you will want to look for a model that can either be dismantled or folded up and placed in the trunk of your car. Depending on your current status, you may also need to invest in a ramp or a hoist as many outdoor wheelchairs are too heavy for one person to lift alone.
3. Your Comfort
Finally, when looking for a power wheelchair, you’ll find that they come in three main models: front wheel, mid-wheel, and rear wheel drive. Which is best for you is usually down to personal preference, with some people finding certain models easier to control and more comfortable. As a guide:
- Front wheel drive wheelchairs are best for uneven terrain, as well as areas that experience a lot of snow. They are the slowest option, however.
- Mid-wheel drive chairs have the smallest turn radius, which is ideal for those who require a chair for use in the home. They also tend to be the most maneuverable option.
- Rear wheel drive wheelchairs are the best option for those traveling long distances, and on the road. They focus on speed, with many models reaching over 8mph.
Before buying a motorized wheelchair, take the time to speak to your occupational therapist or doctor, and ask for advice.