Wheelchairs are an amazing device that grants freedom and mobility to individuals who struggle to move on their own. They come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own set of features in order to assist a chair user with comfort. Electric wheelchairs, also called power chairs, are a great option when looking for the perfect chair because they allow the user to control the chair’s movements without strenuous effort.
If you are looking to purchase a chair either for yourself or a loved one, it is important to look exactly what you need and to find the perfect chair that is made just right depending on both needs and abilities. This search can be a daunting task, but we are here to help! Knowing the basics of what the market has to offer and how they assist different needs for the user can help reduce this stress and show you exactly what to look for. Here are a few principles of electric wheelchair design to consider as you narrow down your search.
Types of electric wheelchairs
Understanding the basic varieties of electric wheelchairs gives you a great starting point in your search before moving on to the more refined details. Thanks to the development of technology for wheelchairs there are a plethora of options to select from. But it is not like finding yourself a new air fryer. Wheelchairs are not one-size-fits-all and need to be specifically adjusted and designed for the unique individual. There are generally five types of electric wheelchairs to start from.
The first is front-wheel electric wheelchairs. The motor powers the large-sized front wheels. This type is useful for needed traction and allows adequate space for the user to place their feet.
Then there are the mid-wheel electric wheelchairs. These chairs have three sets of wheels, with small wheels leading in the front and following from the back and a large set of wheels in the middle. Mid-wheelchairs are known for being easy to guide around in small spaces.
Next, the rear-wheel electric wheelchairs have small rear wheels that are powered by the motor, this gives the chair power from the back. This extra push is useful when driving through rough terrain or over a bumpy sidewalk.
If you are looking for a wheelchair that is travel-friendly, the portable electric wheelchairs can be broken down simply for travel needs. These chairs are relatively basic and easy to use.
Finally, there are the heavy-duty electric wheelchairs. These are specifically built for people who weigh from 400 to 600 pounds.
Comfort and Support
Once you select a chair that will work best for your needs, it is time to move towards the most important elements of a chair. Is it safe and is it comfortable? Electric wheelchairs are a far step from uncomfortable wooden and metal frames used over the last 100 years. No matter what your needs for a wheelchair are, being comfortable is significant in how well the chair works. There are several parts to consider when selecting a chair with the proper mechanisms for comfort.
Cushions positioned correctly around the chair are great in situating the body so the muscles can relax and blood can flow properly. There are cushion customizations for all types of different needs so that the chair does not bring any discomfort when it is in use. Being able to tilt or recline can also help in this comfort and reduce the chances of pressure sores from developing. You can also find chairs that can move up and down, allowing you to sit comfortably at different levels depending on your activities.
Another important element to consider when you get an electric wheelchair is the ability to be moved around. Even if you do not need a collapsible and portable wheelchair, it is still important to consider how it will be able to move around your living space. There are wheelchairs that can move indoors and outdoors, ones that can go over rough terrain, and even ones that can maneuver through sandy beaches. Selecting what you want from these various capabilities will help make the user’s quality of life easier as activities can be inhibited less. But it is important to consult a physician in order to deem what is necessary and available for the user to manage.
Positioning and Control
One of the great aspects of electric wheelchairs is that they can be easily driven by the user with minimum effort. This puts less stress on both users and caregivers and can grant a new level of freedom to those with disabilities that prohibit them from pushing a chair forward. The most common structure for this is a small joystick and keypad to control the chair. Some can be very sensitive so even small movements for limited mobility can make it easy and accurate to maneuver around. But there are still options for those who can not use a joystick. A sip-and-puff control moves the chair based on the pressure breathed into a control tube. Or there are the head, foot, and chin controls that can be placed on the chair allowing for control through hitting pedals or switches. With modern technology in voice recognition growing there are even chairs that can be moved through voice command!
Selecting the right chair for your or your loved ones’ needs is crucial to making sure the user is both mobile and comfortable. With electric chairs’ cost ranging anywhere from $3,500 to $12,000 US dollars, it is of great importance to choose the right one. A variety of needs can be met through various adjustments and additions to the standard frame of the chair in order to ensure the user is supported and comfortable. Upgrades can also be added to give more dexterity to the wheelchair so the user can have even more freedom to do more activities. All these elements are important to be familiar with before you purchase your electric chair, but consulting with a therapeutic physician is crucial to ensure the chair you chose is medically correct for the user. This way you know in every way which chair is right for you.
About the author:
Trevor Fenner is the founder and owner of Mobility Paradise, a one-stop-shop for mobility scooters, electric scooters, electric wheelchairs, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, lift chairs, saunas, steam showers, massage tables, exercise equipment, electric bikes, massage chairs, and bathtubs. Years ago, Trevor’s grandma had an accident that made her dependent on a wheelchair; this forced Trevor and his family to put her into an elderly care facility. Since then, Trevor would visit her to take a walk around the neighborhood. Mobility Paradise was created because Trevor couldn’t find an online store that offers a wide selection of mobility equipment and educational resources. What started as a business focusing on mobility scooters grew to include all kinds of mobility products. You can shop for the most reliable mobility products at Mobility Paradise.