Power wheelchairs are also known as electric wheelchairs or motorized wheelchairs. Today’s high-tech chairs have evolved dramatically since the first electric wheelchairs were manufactured by two inventors; Herbert Everest, a paralyzed miner, and his friend Harold Jennings, a mechanical engineer, in 1918.
In the 1970’s, aluminum was used to build and support the frames. This change greatly affected the weight of the chair and added more flexible maneuverability. Aluminum also allowed for more reasonable portability.
Improved maneuverability is one of the primary reasons user’s select power wheelchairs. The power wheelchair is best described as a motorized personal mobility device that has six wheels and a joystick controller that permit superior maneuverability indoors.
With front wheel, rear wheel, and all-wheel drive options, today’s electric wheelchairs are ideal for indoors but can also be used outside.
The use of a power wheelchair allows the user to act with independence and go about their lives and careers rather than be dependent on nursing care or being bed-bound.
As the population ages and as the obesity rate continues to increase, the need for power wheelchairs will continue to rise. Increasing neurological and rheumatoid conditions are also debilitating causes for persons who need mobility assistance.
A recent study conducted by SCI involved gathering information from 412 individuals who use wheelchairs for 40 hours per week. Respondents were interviewed by telephone or in person.
The purpose of the study was to determine if there exists a standard protocol for wheelchair users or if more customization needs to be considered.
- You may also like: history of manual wheelchairs.
The results of the survey indicated the 97% of manual wheelchair users and 54% of power wheelchair users required customization for their chairs.
100% of the power wheelchair users received a chair with programmable controls. Older users and lower income users were likely to use standard programmable power wheelchairs.
The survey indicates that the standard of care for power wheelchairs is programmable controls. Unfortunately low income individuals are unlikely to afford this necessary option.
The advantages of the power wheelchair are many. The mobility provided by power wheelchairs has positively impacted the user’s quality of life.
New technology has made it possible for users to acquire smaller, lightweight wheelchairs that are extremely maneuverable in the small confines of the home or office.
The mobility of these machines enables the users to interact socially, earn a living, continue their education and participate in community activities without relying on a third party.
When preparing to purchase your new power wheelchair, it is a good idea to try to communicate with someone who uses the chair and with physical therapists who are familiar with the product. This is just one more way to perfect your purchase and enjoy a higher, fuller quality of life.
Types of Power Wheelchairs and Mobility Scooters
If mobility has become a challenge for you and you are trying to decide which power wheelchair or mobility scooter best suits your needs, there are several types to choose from. The information below may help narrow down your choices and make your decision a little easier.
Power wheelchairs range in price, size and functionality and come equipped with a wide range of features. They are usually manufactured with two to six wheels and are available in rear wheel, center wheel or front wheel drive.
They can be used either indoors or outdoors. Power wheelchairs are steered by a programmable joystick which provides easier maneuverability in tight spaces than mobility scooters.
They also have more seat position options and depending on the model, the seat may recline, tilt or elevate. Power wheelchairs run off of rechargeable batteries and the light weight versions are normally fold-able for easier travel.
The light weight, as well as the heavier types of power chairs, can also be tied down and transported in vehicles made for this purpose. Depending on the model, power wheelchairs can hold up to 600 pounds and range in price upwards to around $15,000.
Mobility scooters are available in three different types: three wheel, four wheels or compact. They are easily maneuvered by a bicycle-type handle bar and are suited for indoor or outdoor use.
If you plan to use your scooter mostly outdoors, you may want to consider the four wheel scooter, as it is best suited for rough terrain or steep hills. Unlike the power wheelchair, the mobility scooter is lighter and more easily disassembled for easier transport.
Mobility scooters take up a lot less room than power wheelchairs. In fact, most scooters will fit in tight spaces, such as a closet, car trunk or back seat. Many models come equipped with swivel or sliding seats, flip-up armrests and a removable basket.
One notable advantage mobility scooters have over electric wheel chairs is the cost. The price of a mobility scooter ranges upwards to around $5,000. Scooters have a weight capacity of approximately 300 lbs. and like the wheelchair, they run off of rechargeable batteries.
Important Power Wheelchair Information You Need to Know Now
Using a wheelchair to get around can be a frustrating experience. Although you can probably manipulate a manual wheelchair, certain situations will require you to ask for assistance.
This can be embarrassing and limiting. A power wheelchair can help you regain your independence. Here are several reasons why you need a power wheelchair:
1. Ease of use:
A manual wheelchair is unwieldy and difficult to work sometimes, especially as the day goes on and you lose strength in your arms. Everyone gets tired. Many people find that by the end of the day they have no choice but to park themselves in one place, which limits their ability to enjoy life.
With a power wheelchair, you have the option of not just going from room to room in your home, you can get outside and take a ride down the sidewalk, enjoying the sunshine and getting some fresh air without wearing yourself out.
2. Rough terrain:
While out and about, some areas are very difficult for a manual wheelchair to get through, even when you have someone to assist you.
A power chair’s heavy-duty wheels can easily move over bumpy ground or ruts, allowing you to visit friends in the park or go to a loved one’s sporting event.
Perhaps the biggest reason for you to have a power chair is that it allows you to regain the independence you used to enjoy. You shouldn’t have to depend on someone to always get you from Point A to Point B.
With a power chair you can live life on your terms, without waiting for anyone else. Hungry? You have the option of heading into the kitchen to fix yourself a treat.
Tired? Head into your bedroom and take a nap. In a manual chair, you may feel like you are asking permission to live your life. Not so with a power chair.
The fact is power chairs are simply better built than manual chairs. Their wheels are made to cover different terrain, and the frame itself is built stronger.
A high-quality power chair like the ones built by Hoveround can last you a very long time and will not need to be replaced. You can always get a personal loan to cover the cost of the chair, however, power chairs are often covered by Medicare so you might not even need to pay for your chair out of pocket.
Purchasing a chair from Hoveround also guarantees a custom-built chair and repair service around the clock so that you will never be without your chair.
In buying a power wheelchair, you must know the different important information first, just like buying medicine so you won’t end up with regrets. For example, tongkat ali herbal medicine, there are different things to look for before buying it. You can’t just buy it anywhere.