When it comes to choosing a motorised wheelchair or powerchair, one size doesn’t fit all. Powerchairs are available in a range of options, from lightweight, portable chairs, mid-range models with standard convenience features to high-end, customisable models, altered to suit your individual needs. For all-day use, indoors and outdoors, a customed powerchair is ideal.
Powerchairs are essentially made up of two major components: The power base, which includes the motors, wheels, controller and batteries, and the seating system.
Selecting the Right Base
Powerchairs can have up to six wheels and come in rear wheel, mid wheel, front wheel drive configurations. Understanding the pros and cons of the different drive configurations is key to ensuring you get the chair that will work best for you.
Rear Wheel Drive Bases
- powerful and stable for varied outdoor terrains
- suits active users
- requires a larger turning circle, making it harder to access tight areas, especially indoors
Mid Wheel Drive Bases
The terms “Mid” and “Centre-wheel drive” are often used interchangeably.
- exceptionally tight turning circle and very manoeuvrable, making them ideal for indoor use
- those with front and rear castors offer a very stable outdoor drive
- the wheel position mirrors where a person’s legs would usually be, making them more intuitive to drive
- can be harder to master the joystick controls
- a degree of instability, especially on uneven terrains
Front Wheel Drive Bases
With its drive wheels at the front, a front-wheel drive chair, in effect, pulls itself over terrain and obstacles.
- powerful and very stable, especially over uneven, outdoor terrains
- performs well on softer ground
- can be more difficult to drive, as most of the chair is behind you and it can be harder to see and judge your clearance when turning
- can “fishtail” at higher speeds
Now that you know more about the different bases, you can ask yourself:
What size powerchair will suit my home?
For outdoor use, what is the condition of the footpaths around my home and work? Are there any hills?
For indoor use, what kind of manoeuvrability and turning circle do I need?
Selecting the Right Seat
Powerchairs come with adjustable seats to suit a variety of different postures and sitting and reclining positions.
Seats are highly customisable and may be fitted with:
- tilt and recline functions to reduce pressure
- elevating leg rests
- custom headrests, back rests and pressure care seat cushioning
When choosing options and accessories for you seating, you will need to take into consideration your height and weight, and any existing medical conditions, such as pressure areas, etc.
Selecting the Right Controls & Accessories
Powerchairs are most commonly operated by a programmable joystick, however, different control options are available, should you find a joystick difficult or not possible to use. There are many other accessories that can be customised and added to your powerchair to help make your life easier. Ask one of our team members about all the options available.
Get the Right Advice from Trusted Professionals
Assessment and advice are vital to making the right choice when it comes to customising your powerchair. At Power Mobility, we can help you choose the right model at the right price, to suit your specific needs. We also have a team of highly trained and experienced technicians on hand to customise your powerchair in our well-equipped workshop. Your occupational therapist and highly trained Power Mobility technician will work together to create the best possible outcome for you.
Contact us today on 07 3073 4803 and chat to one of our friendly consultants to discuss your circumstances and needs.