Needing to purchase a new power wheelchair or ready to upgrade from a manual wheelchair? With so many types of powered chairs available, choosing the right power wheelchair for your needs can be a little tricky.
At Able Medilink, we know power wheelchairs inside and out. With years of experience serving our community and supporting them to achieve optimal mobility and independence, we make the process of finding your new chair easier.
Simply follow our top tips for a perfect match.
Types Of Power Wheelchairs
Before we delve into additional selection criteria, let’s first review the different types of power wheelchairs you can choose from. Different power bases will suit different users and how they intend to use their chairs.
Rear Wheel Drive
These types of power chairs are propelled by two larger rear wheels with two smaller castor wheels at the front. The castor wheels aid in better stability and manoeuvrability.
Rear-wheel drive power chairs are a popular choice as they offer good shock absorption and allow for better navigation over soft terrain. Their downsides, however, include a smaller turning radius and challenges overcoming obstacles such as kerbs due to the small front wheels.
Front Wheel Drive
The reverse of rear-wheel drive, these types of chairs have larger drive wheels at the front and castors at the rear. Offering similar comfort to rear-wheel drive, the main advantage of front-wheel drive chairs is that they are much more capable of navigating obstacles.
If you enjoy an active life and want a chair that can easily climb curbs or rough terrain, then this may be the best option for you.
Mid-wheel drive chairs combine aspects of both front and rear-wheel drive. Featuring two large wheels in the centre of the chair with small castors front and back, these six-wheeled chairs deliver exceptional stability. They also offer an excellent 360-degree turning radius, perfect for navigating small spaces!
Potential downsides include a less comfortable ride for the used as six wheels mean a bumpier ride. Additionally, while they are great at 360-degree turns, they do not allow you to get as close to a sink or table as a front-wheel drive – so think about the types of turns you need most.
5 Steps To Finding The Right Power Wheelchair
When looking for a power wheelchair, it’s important to consider the user’s needs. There are many different models available on the market, so it’s important to do your research to find the one that best suits your needs.
Here are some things we recommend to keep in mind when choosing a power wheelchair:
1. Determine The Need For A Power Wheelchair
If you or someone you know is struggling with mobility, it may be time to consider a power wheelchair. Even if they are proficient in the use of a manual wheelchair, a power wheelchair can deliver a significant enhancement.
Power chairs can greatly improve quality of life by increasing independence and providing advanced transportation options. However, they can be quite expensive, so it’s important to make sure that a power chair is truly necessary before investing in one.
That said, there are several types of chairs available with different features that alter the price, meaning that there may be a power chair within your budget depending on your requirements.
2. Consider The Size
Power chairs, also called electric wheelchairs, come in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to choose one that will be comfortable for the user.
It is important to think about things like the width of the seat and the height of the backrest. It’s also important to make sure that the power wheelchair can fit through doorways and manoeuvre in tight spaces.
Do not only consider public spaces but home also. Even if the property has previously allowed for a manual wheelchair, a power wheelchair will have a larger turning radius and be wider – needing much more space.
3. Choose The Right Features
There are many different features available on power chairs, so it’s important to choose the ones that best suit your needs. There is nothing to be gained by spending more on features you do not require – comfort and ease of use should be the primary focus.
For example, some power chairs have off-road capabilities, while others have special seats that recline or tilt. Seating and positioning are critical features for most users. Power seating systems that allow you to tilt in place can make getting in and out of the chair much easier.
Selecting the right features will ensure that the power wheelchair is both functional and comfortable for the user.
4. Compare Prices
Power chairs can be quite expensive, so it’s important to compare prices before making a purchase. Be sure to consider the cost of batteries, replacement parts, and insurance when comparing prices. At Able Medilink we are happy to discuss pricing and are committed to offering the most competitive pricing to our customers.
5. Take It For A Test Drive
Before making a final decision, it’s important to test drive the power wheelchair. This will give you a chance to make sure that it’s comfortable and easy to use.
It’s also a good idea to have someone else with you, such as a family member or carer. This allows them to try out the power chair alongside you to ensure they are comfortable with it and how to support your best use of the chair also.
Alongside these tips, you will also need to consider aspects such as:
Weight capacity – The chair needs to comfortably accommodate the user’s weight as well as any added weight from medical equipment or personal items.
Intended usage – Do you need a heavy-duty chair that can facilitate outdoor exploration? Or are you likely to remain primarily on sealed, level surfaces?
Controls – Are standard joystick controls suited to your needs or do you need alternative access controls? Alternative access controls include head, chin, tongue, speech and sip-n-puff controls.
Battery longevity – Be sure to check how long the battery will take to charge and how long it will last during regular usage and intensive use.
Trust The Experts
By following these tips, you’ll be sure to choose the right power wheelchair for your needs. With a little bit of research, you can find a chair that will provide independence and transportation, all while being comfortable and easy to use.
At Able Medilink, we are passionate about supporting our customers to find the optimal solution for their mobility needs. With years of experience and a variety of consultation options available, our team is available to offer their expert advice in a manner that suits you. Browse online, discuss via skype, phone or in person, whatever you prefer!
Contact our Bentleigh showroom today at 03 9557 9038 to learn more.