Power wheelchairs have come a long way since their introduction in the 1950s, when Canadian engineer George Klein designed a unit for quadriplegic World War II veterans. That was basically a manual wheelchair with a bulky battery on the back. Today, the wheelchair user has a range of choices, from folding portable to heavy duty.
With the variety of options from which to choose, ensuring that you have the right power chair might seem problematic. Answering some questions before you select a particular power wheelchair can help you get started. After you’ve answered these questions, discuss them with your vendor and physical therapist:
- Do I need a power chair for both inside and outside? If I need a chair for outdoor use, will I be covering uneven or rough ground? Will I have to go over curbs?
- What turning radius do I need? Does my home have small rooms and sharp corners? Mid-wheel-drive scooters take corners better than rear-wheel scooters, and they have tighter turning circles for small areas.
- What is my weight? Some power scooters have weight limits. Also take into account any heavy items that you may need to carry with you when you’re using your power chair.
- What type of tilt system do I need? Optional features such as power tilt, recline and elevating leg rests are available on some models. Make sure any of these features can be controlled from the chair without requiring outside assistance.
- Can the chair be adapted for other types of control systems, such as single-switch, scanner, headrest control or proportional head control? A proportional control works with one gearshift switch near the cheek, while the headrest acts as the accelerator or speed control.
- Are the electronics current, and will they accommodate alternative controls if they need to be changed in future? Ask this question if you’re purchasing a second-hand wheelchair.
Go over all of these questions and your answers with the professionals at Power Mobility & Lifts. Visit our informative website, or just give us a call. We serve clients in greater Phoenix and elsewhere in Arizona.
Power chair image via Shutterstock