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Selecting the right power chair

Finding the right power chair is a personal experience that can often be overwhelming.  There are so many options to consider when purchasing a power chair and recent technology advancements only make it more difficult.  This brief guide provides some basic considerations when choosing your power chair.

Lifestyle Needs

They type of power chair you purchase will depend on many aspects of your lifestyle.  How active are you planning on being?  Will you be traveling outdoors frequently?  Will there be multiple transfers between chairs throughout the day?  Often, one needs to consider the amount of time spent in the chair and the environment they are in.

Those who are always on the go will want a chair that is lighter, quicker, and portable so they can get to all the places they need to while having the flexibility of storing the chair in a vehicle or on an airplane.

Those who will be spending most of their day in a power chair will opt for a full-size chair that offers more space and comfort.  Full-size chairs also typically offer larger batteries, providing greater range and longer duration between charges.

The environment can also be a consideration when selecting a power chair.  Indoor travel tends to be much tighter and requires a chair that can navigate through hallways and make 90 degree turns into rooms.  Outdoor terrain can offer challenges that require a chair to maneuver over small obstacles in various weather conditions.

The Drive System Matters

Like cars, power chairs maneuver differently depending upon which wheel is receiving the power.  The below considerations can help to understand which drive system is right for your needs.

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive power chairs typically have larger front wheels that power the chair.  Because the power is up front, they tend to maneuver well over small obstacles.  They have a respectable turning radius and are easier to maneuver within the home or in tight spaces.  Although these chairs provide good stability, they can fishtail when turning at high speeds.  Front-wheel drive power chairs are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

Mid-wheel drive

Mid-wheel drive power chairs have large wheels at the center of gravity and often smaller wheels at the front and back of the chair to assist with stability and turning.  These chairs boast the tightest turning radius and are great for use in small spaces or maneuver through more populated areas.  These chairs operate very efficiently indoors and on flat surfaces outdoors, but do not maneuver as well through mixed terrain and hills.

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive power chairs have large wheels at the back of the chair for power.  These chairs are quite stable, even while traveling at higher speeds.  They maneuver well over rough terrain, but they have larger turning radiuses and may be more difficult to maneuver indoors.