When shopping for an electric wheelchair, there are a number of important factors to consider. This guide will help you determine what is appropriate for you as you are shopping, by helping you make an informed decision.
If you require the use of a wheelchair most or all of the time you would first need a seating assessment from an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist in order to get the right chair and seating.
Even if you do not need to be professionally assessed, it is vital that you know what your requirements are.
Factors About Yourself to Consider
How Tolerant and Balanced Are You?
This is taking into consideration how long you can endure doing something like standing up, sitting or walking. Are you able to remain steady when you are seated or standing, or moving from the one to the other?
How Mobile Are You?
Are you able to move around, be it standing, seated or walking without assistance within the chair? Depending on how able you are, you have to consider how you will move in and out of the chair. Can you walk for short distances? If you are usually hoisted, then you have to consider whether your hoist will be able to move close to the chair?
What About Your Posture?
Your posture is the position in which you hold your body. While using an electric wheelchair you must comfortably be able to maintain a supported seated position. For that you might need cushions in order to help you maintain position.
Body Weight and Height
If you have a body which is on the larger side, then you need to consider a chair that can accommodate your weight in order to maintain the right stability and balance. This not only prevents discomfort but also ensures that the chair does not break. If you are quite tall you will need a chair that can support your legs, your spine and possibly your bigger feet. It is of the utmost importance that your limbs are supported.
Do You Have Normal Sight?
It is very unlikely that you should use an electric wheelchair if your vision or cognitive abilities are impaired.
How About Your Skin?
If your skin is not healthy on any of the pressure points, be it on your spine, the back of your knees or your bottom and hips, then leaning on it without relieving the pressure might develop a pressure ulcer. If you find it difficult to relieve the pressure, then you have to get pressure relief cushioning.
Factors To Consider In A Great Electric Wheelchair
Every electric wheelchair will indicate the maximum amount of weight it can take. Standard electric wheelchairs will have a basic maximum of 300 lbs, depending on which model it is. Electric wheelchairs that are more heavy-duty and are designed for people who are bigger in size and thus carry more weight might have a maximum weight capacity of 500lbs.
If you are going to use your electric wheelchair a lot to get from place to place, then it is ideal to choose one which has a long battery life. The battery range varies between different models of wheelchairs and is anywhere between 10 to 25 miles of coverage on a single charge. You should keep in mind that this range can also be influenced by the weight of the user, the terrain ventured onto as well as the age of the batteries.
The turning radius of a wheelchair has to do with how much space a wheelchair needs in every direction in order to make a complete 360-degree turn. There are various factors that influence the turning radius, some of which are the frame length, the size of the seat as well as the angle and type of footrest.
If you move around tight corners a lot, then mid-wheel drive electric wheelchairs will be appropriate. Chairs with a mid and front-wheel drive are more likely to have a turning radius between 20 and 30 inches, while rear-wheel drive electric wheelchairs might have a 40 inch or more turning radius.
A number of electric wheelchair brands have additional add-ons to allow tilting, reclining, or elevating the wheelchair. Some electric wheelchairs are operable in a standing or seated position. In order to have a functioning standing electric wheelchair, designers have to take into consideration various psychological and physiological features, such as an improved quality of life, a strengthened cardiovascular system, and the prevention of pressure sores.
The dimensions of a chair will indicate how big it is and how well it can accommodate the size of your body. Take into consideration how well the chair will fit in the doorways of your living area. The width of a seat is very important to consider if you have a bigger than normal body size.
The seats of an electric wheelchair and how well they are cushioned are quite important for your comfort. If possible, involve the expertise of an occupational therapist for the best setup of your chair. Having the right cushioning in place will reduce the potential to develop pressure injuries. It will also reduce the possibility of slipping out of the chair and maintaining the right pelvic position.
When using an electric wheelchair, it is important that you plan how to maximize your battery life. An electric wheelchair should have the ability to charge the chair when in unwelcome situations such as a depleted battery. The battery indicator allows for accurate management of the battery charge.
If you are planning to travel long distances, then the speed of an electric wheelchair is important. If you would like to travel at maximum speed, consider going for a rear-wheel drive electric wheelchair. Although rear-wheel driven electric wheelchairs might have their disadvantages, they can go at speeds as high as 8.5mph.
If you have an active lifestyle then it is crucial to have a foldable portable electric wheelchair. They are foldable so that they can be transported easier in the trunk of a vehicle. Some models allow for disassembly and reassembly again for problem-free travel.
Where the driving wheels are located says a lot about the speed and manoeuvrability of the chair. Chairs which are rear-wheel driven have greater speed, whereas those which are mid-wheel driven have greater manoeuvrability. Chairs that are front-wheel driven perform great in uneven terrains but tend to be much slower. The wheels will either be air-filled or solid. It is important as well to note the size of the caster wheels (the little non-drive wheels on the front). The smaller they are the less suitable are they for uneven terrains.
It is just as important for an electric wheelchair to be height adjustable. It should be low enough to fit under low positions such as tables but also be extendable to heights such as opening cupboards in the kitchen or reach shelves up high. Adjustable heights allow for an improved quality of life.
Managing Turns and Kerbs
Wheelchairs should be able to flawlessly handle kerbs and uneven patches on roads or any surface. As such all wheels should at all times remain on the ground while the caster wheels are sprung in order to avoid fracturing and maintain stability.
Although these might seem like a lot, they are just some of the important things to consider when making a buying decision about an electric wheelchair. Apart from the abovementioned, there are also other items (add-ons) that can be added to enhance your riding or sitting experience. Some add-ons to consider might be tilted backrests and electric leg rests.
Please feel free to ask if you have any questions or if you feel we should add other important features to this list. See our product pages for details and should you have any questions feel free to give us a call at 800-682-9444. One of our agents will be happy to assist you. We are open every day from 8AM - 8PM EST. Visit our blog to see more of what we have to offer on electric wheelchairs.
Feel free to write me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments. At Electric Wheelchairs USA, we truly love helping our customers make the best choice for their needs whether it is a power chair, mobility scooter, or lift chair.