A wheelchair is a mobility device that enables a sick or a disabled person to move. It’s basically a chair mounted on wheels, which can be propelled either manually or electrically. Wheelchairs propelled electronically are known as electric wheelchairs.
Electric wheelchairs are powered by motors. They can be used indoors and outdoors and cost at least $1,500. Depending on the kind and extent of use, there are several kinds of wheelchairs available on the market. Some features to consider when buying a wheelchair are the weight and size of the person using it, convenience of both indoor and outdoor use, the chair’s weight capacity, power source, warranty and cost.
Electric wheelchairs are generally used by people who have limited or no mobility due to many different ailments. Some people can be required to use a wheelchair because of old age, paralysis, weight, degenerating muscle diseases, broken or weak bones or other illnesses. Electric wheelchairs are easy to use because they are powered by batteries and can be controlled by a joystick. They are also highly maneuverable as they can turn 360 degrees in one spot. They are also very quiet but they require more maintenance than manual wheelchairs.
Electric wheelchairs are now being designed according to the users’ requirements. Advanced technologies like spring suspension, pneumatic wheels and hydraulic systems are being applied to increase the wheelchair’s strength and durability. There are basically three types of electric wheelchairs, including rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, and mid-wheel drive.
Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs are the traditional and most common type. They are faster then front-wheel models but are not as flexible while turning as the front-wheel drive and mid-wheel drive wheelchairs.
Front-wheel drive wheelchairs are becoming more popular because they are more flexible and maneuverable. They are slightly slower than the rear-wheel drive wheelchairs because of this.
Mid-wheel drive wheelchairs are the tightest-turning wheelchairs. However, they tend to be slightly unsteady while stopping and starting.
Other types of electric wheelchairs are based on weight, ranging from ultra lightweight to heavy-duty wheelchairs; transport wheelchairs; tilt-in-space wheelchairs; wheelchairs with an elevating seat; rough terrain wheelchairs; pediatric wheelchairs and specialty wheelchairs, among others.
Various options are available for almost every part of an electric wheelchair. The wheelchair frame can be foldable or rigid while the wheels can be front-wheel or free wheel. Various foot and armrests are also available including, detachable, swing-away or elevating. The footplates and armrests can be customized to adjust for both angle and height.
When purchasing a wheelchair the above considerations are only the start of choosing the right design. Other important considerations are the dimensions of the chair’s backrest and whether it will be foldable and/or able to recline; the dimensions and upholstery of the chair’s seat; automatic or hand brakes; the type of controls; kerb climbers and whether or not the wheelchair will be outfitted with lights. Other options that can be attached to electric wheelchairs include a tray, crutch holders, seat belts, bags, drink holders and anti-tip bars.