Electric wheelchairs, also called power wheelchairs, are designed for people who do not have the upper body strength to push a manual wheelchair. These wheelchairs eliminate the need for a helper to push the wheelchair.
One glance at the mobility market and you will realize the power wheelchair choices are overwhelming. There is an electric wheelchair to suit every need and lifestyle. To make the best decision, you need to understand the different types of electric wheelchairs and the features they come with.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING
Important questions you need to ask yourself before buying a power wheelchair include:
.Will you use your wheelchair indoors, outdoors, or in both scenarios?
.Do you need to transport the wheelchair in a car?
.How much speed do you need in the electric wheelchair?
.Which arm-rest, seat style, and leg rest best suits your needs?
.What is your weight?
.How much battery life best suits your needs?
After answering these questions, now consider the following features in electric wheelchairs.
Wheelchairs come with maximum weight capacity. This figure represents the maximum weight of the user they can accommodate. Most electric wheelchairs have a weight capacity of 300 pounds. If you are heavier than that, consider heavy-duty electric wheelchairs, which have a weight capacity of up to 450 pounds.
Portability of the Wheelchair
If you travel often, then you need a light wheelchair that is easy to transport. Some wheelchairs are as light as 50 pounds while others weigh more than 350 pounds.
Consider wheelchairs that can be quickly taken apart. Also, look into models that are foldable. Such wheelchairs can comfortably fit in cars and are easy to store when traveling and in your home.
By looking at the dimensions of the wheelchair, you can determine how well you will fit in it. But, most importantly you will know if it will fit well in your home. Most power wheelchairs are designed to fit through doors and hallways. However, if you live in a small house, you should really consider the dimensions of the wheelchair.
The turning radius determines how much space the chair needs to complete a 360 turn. If you will be using the wheelchair indoors – where space can be limited – the turning radius should be an important consideration.
Type of Wheel Drive
The type of wheel drive determines the speed and turning capability of the power wheelchair. There are three types of wheel drives:
Front Wheel Drive – wheelchairs with this type of wheel drive turn easily but have lower speeds.
Mid-wheel drive – wheelchairs with this type of wheel drive have the best turning capability. However, they are slightly unsteady when starting and stopping, which makes them unsuitable on uneven surfaces.
Rear wheel drive – wheelchairs with this type of wheel drive are the most common. They are the fastest but have poor turning capability.
Most electric wheelchairs have a standard captain’s seat. However, others come with seats that can tilt, recline, raise the leg rest, or go into a standing position. These options reduce the risk of pressure sores and are great for people who cannot use both hands without support.
Make sure you learn how to adjust the seating position properly to avoid injury.
Type of Battery and Battery Life
Electric wheelchairs are powered by batteries. There are several types of batteries, with each category having different maintenance requirements and life cycle.
AGM Batteries – these batteries are no-maintenance, shock resistant, leak and spill proof, and are least vulnerable to damage. They are the most expensive due to their convenience.
Gel Batteries – these require no maintenance, are leak proof, and last longer than wet batteries.
Wet Batteries – these types of batteries require to be refilled distilled water on a regular basis. They are the cheapest and are lighter than the AGM and Gel batteries. They are not approved for air travel.
Li-ion Batteries – these batteries have the most extended life cycle. They are light and environmentally friendly.
You will use the wheelchair controller to drive the wheelchair, control the speed when to start and stop, and what direction to turn. There are two types of controllers – modular and integral. The modular controller has separate components for the different functions while the integral controller has all the components in the same housing as the joystick.
Most power wheelchairs come with a replaceable controller.
Best Electric Wheelchairs For Senior Citizens
After evaluating a large number of electric wheelchairs, and considering their user ratings, we recommend the following as some of the best electric wheelchairs in the market.
EZ Lite produces some of the best mobility aids in the market. The most unique feature of the EZ Lite Cruiser DX10 is its portability. It is foldable and weighs only 60 pounds. It can be used both indoors and outdoors. It is convenient for people who travel a lot.
. Portability – weighs 60 pounds and it is foldable.
. It has a weight capacity of 305 pounds.
. Convenient for indoors as it has a small turning radius.
. A long-lasting Li-ion battery. On a single charge, the battery can power the chair for 10 miles. It has an option for two batteries, meaning the range can go up to 20 miles.
. Durable construction.
. One of the fastest folding mechanisms in the market.
It is a mid-wheel drive wheelchair that is easy to maneuver. Its most notable feature is the companion controller. A companion can control all functions of the wheelchair. This feature is convenient if the user of the chair has severe mobility restrictions.
The sit to stand function operates in under 15 seconds. The feature allows the user to relieve pressure on buttocks and the back, by promoting even blood circulation.
. Easy to maneuver due to the mid-wheel drive wheel placement.
. Top speed of 5 mph.
. High capacity battery with a maximum range of 25 miles.
. A maximum turning radius of 25 inches.
. Maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds.
. Memory foam padded seat armrest and back panel.
. Adjustable backrest to accommodate different heights of users.
. Portable – weighs 110 pounds but is not foldable. It can easily be pushed into a car trunk.
The Foldawheel PW-1000XL is designed for people of large body size but still, want a lightweight chair. Even though the wheelchair is broad, it weighs 55 pounds. Arguably, it is the best heavy-duty portable power wheelchair in the market.
. It is a rear wheel drive power chair with a top speed of 5 mph.
. It has a maximum range of 3 miles per battery pack. The chair holds up to 3 battery packs.
. It has a maximum turning radius of 5 inches.
. Padded armrest and seat.
. 330 pounds weight capacity. A seat adjustment takes the weight capacity to 400 pounds.
. Portability – weighs only 55 pounds and can be fully folded.
Information is vital when looking for the best electric wheelchair. Consider the factors outlined in this article to make a more informed decision.
, for more info on the best CPAP Masks available.