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5 Considerations When Selecting a Power Wheelchair

person in power wheelchair

If you’re looking for a power wheelchair, you will need to consider several different factors before choosing one.

Power wheelchairs are available with rear-wheel, mid-wheel, or front-wheel drive. This affects how the chair moves and is a primary consideration when choosing a power wheelchair. Here are 5 things to consider before selecting a power wheelchair.

 

1. Which power base is most suitable?

Rear-Wheel Drive

Rear-wheel drive power wheelchairs feature two large drive wheels in the back with two smaller wheels at the front.

Rear-wheel drive chairs are ideal for outdoor use on gravel, high grass and uneven terrain. The user’s weight is located directly over the drive wheels, providing maximum stability and control.

Rear-wheel drive chairs have the largest possible turning radius, making them more difficult to maneuver indoors.

* The Cirrus Plus EC features a 4” ground clearance which allows comfortable navigation over bumps and ruts.

Drive Medical Cirrus Plus EC Folding Rear-Wheel Power Wheelchair

Drive Medical Cirrus Plus EC Folding Rear-Wheel Power Wheelchair

 

 

Mid-wheel Drive

Mid-wheel-drive power wheelchairs feature a drive wheel located midway between the front and rear of the chair.

These power wheelchairs are very easy to use due to their intuitive feel and small turning radius. This type of chair can turn around in its own space similar to human movement.

Mid-wheel drive chairs are ideal for indoor use in apartments, offices and anywhere with limited room to maneuver. They are not well suited for rough terrain or outdoor use.

** The Titan AXS features four 6” caster wheels for outdoor stability and 10” drive wheels for indoor maneuverability.

Drive Medical Titan AXS Mid-Wheel Power Wheelchair 2

Drive Medical Titan AXS Mid-Wheel Power Wheelchair

Front-Wheel Drive

These power wheelchairs feature large drive wheels in the front with two smaller wheels at the rear.

This configuration allows more force to be distributed to each of the tires, increasing traction over soft terrain.

Front-wheel drive chairs have a respectable turning radius and good stability, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

The small rear wheels may fishtail when turning at high speeds so front-wheel drive chairs are slower than mid- or rear-wheel drive chairs.

** The Trident HD features 14” drive wheels for indoor and outdoor use. The suspension and front anti-tip wheels allow users to easily navigate uneven terrain.

Drive Medical Trident HD Front-Wheel Power Wheelchair

Drive Medical Trident HD Front-Wheel Power Wheelchair

 

2. Where will the wheelchair be used?

It is important to determine if the power wheelchair will primarily be used indoors or outdoors in order to select the best model for your needs.

Indoor use

The turning radius of the chair is the amount of space required to complete a full 360° turn. Mid-wheel drive chairs are considered to be the most maneuverable as they have the smallest turn radius. This is important for making 90° turns in small spaces such as hallways, kitchens and bedrooms.

** The Titan AXS features a 20” turn radius and a programmable controller with Bluetooth electronics.

Drive Medical Titan AXS Mid-Wheel Power Wheelchair 2

Drive Medical Titan AXS Mid-Wheel Power Wheelchair

Outdoor use

Durable, flat-free wheels are best for navigating various types of outdoor terrains. Large, wide wheels and casters travel more easily over rough terrain, allowing a smoother ride for the user.

High ground clearance allows the chair to navigate obstacles without bottoming out. Maximum range is an important consideration so that the user can travel desired distances without having to recharge the battery.

** The Cirrus Plus EC features a maximum travel range of 15 miles with flat-free tires that are ideal for outdoor use.

Drive Medical Cirrus Plus EC Folding Rear-Wheel Power Wheelchair 3

Drive Medical Cirrus Plus EC Folding Rear-Wheel Power Wheelchair

 

3. Who will be using the chair?

Power wheelchairs are available with a variety of seat widths and weight capacities. Heavy-duty chairs have reinforced frames and high-strength materials to safely transport heavier individuals.

 

Most power wheelchairs have a weight capacity of 300 lbs. Heavier individuals need to use heavy duty wheelchairs with wider seats and reinforced frames.

Their frames are larger and wider with solid no-flat tires. Heavy-duty chairs are less portable than standard chairs due to the weight of additional reinforcements.

** The Trident HD accommodates users up to 450 lbs. It can be taken apart into four pieces with quick-release seat removal, making it simple and convenient for travel.

Drive Medical Trident HD Heavy Duty Power Wheelchair

Drive Medical Trident HD Heavy Duty Power Wheelchair

 

4. Is portability a priority?

Portable wheelchairs are sturdy and durable enough for everyday use but can be folded or taken apart for travel.

Portable power wheelchairs are ideal for users with active lifestyles. These lightweight models are easily taken apart for transport and storage.

They can fit into a large trunk or SUV without the need for costly vehicle ramps, hoists or lifts.

** The Titan LTE Portable Powerchair weighs only 112 lbs with a weight capacity of 300 lbs. It can be taken apart into three pieces with the heaviest weighing just 39 lbs.

Drive Medical Titan LTE Portable Powerchair 2

Drive Medical Titan LTE Portable Powerchair

 

5. What maintenance is required?

All power wheelchairs require regular care to ensure that they continue to function correctly.

Power wheelchairs should be kept in a clean, dry place at room temperature. Exposure to extreme temperatures can damage the electronics and plastics. The controller, seat and frame should be wiped clean as necessary with a damp cloth and mild cleaner.

Daily checks:

  • The joystick is straight when it is in neutral position
  • No frayed or exposed wires in the controller harness
  • No flat spots on the tires
  • No loose hardware on the seats, armrests and front riggings

Weekly checks:

  • No corrosion on the controller harness or frame
  • All controller harnesses are securely fastened
  • The brakes are functional at the lowest speed setting

Monthly checks:

  • No evidence of wear on the anti-tip wheels
  • Sufficient tread on the drive tires and caster wheels
  • No loose hardware anywhere on the chair

 

Final Thoughts

Consultation with a physician is essential before selecting and using wheelchairs. Correct sizing of the frame and seat is important to prevent injury or skin breakdown. Physical and occupational therapists can guide selection of wheelchair features and provide training on how to use wheelchairs safely.

 

At HomeCare Hospital Beds we want to help you make an informed decision.

If you have any doubts on which power wheelchair type is best for you, please contact our HomeCare Hospital Beds team so we can help you make the right choice.

Call us today toll free at 877-414-0002 or email us at info@homecarehospitalbeds.com.