Advantages And Disadvantages Of Electric Wheelchairs
Last Updated on June 1, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
Electric wheelchairs have great importance, not only to those who use them directly but also to those who would be assisting the handicapped. In this guide, you’ll see both the advantages and disadvantages of an electric wheelchair. If you’re interested in knowing, then you should read through this guide.
What Is An Electric Wheelchair?.
An electric wheelchair is a device that aids in mobility. It is typically used by individuals who have a medical condition and have difficulty walking. People use power wheelchairs because they are unable to use a manual wheelchair or an electric scooter.
Every electric wheelchair has a base, which is equipped with four or more wheels. Electric wheelchairs typically have two large drive wheels and two or four smaller wheels called casters for added stability. The drive wheels can be positioned in the front, middle, or rear of the power wheelchair base.
Many electric wheelchairs can be used both indoors and outdoors, yet power wheelchairs offer more maneuverability indoors. With a tighter turning radius, some motorized wheelchairs are designed for use in the home.
Choosing the right type of power chair
The power wheelchair consists of a power base, a seat, and controls. These come in various configurations. The power base contains the drive wheels of the wheelchair. There are the rear wheel, center wheel, and front wheelchairs. Each configuration has advantages and disadvantages. Front-wheel drive chairs are better for avoiding obstacles. Rear-wheel drive chairs are more powerful. Mid-wheel drive chairs have the smallest turning radius and are best suited for indoor use. A good resource for the pros and cons of each can be found here.
The seat can be of numerous types and materials. It can also be equipped with various power options such as tilt, recline, elevate and even stand. Your assessment expert will help you choose an appropriate cushion and back. They will also help you decide which power options, if any, are necessary.
Finally, there are the controls. If you can’t use your hands, there are custom controls that can be operated with your head, chin, mouth, etc.
Another important factor that will assist you with your choice, is who is going to pay for it. In many countries, such aids may be covered by Social Security, Insurance, or various other grants. Carefully explore your options and make sure that you are eligible according to your provider’s criteria.
Advantages Of An Electric Wheelchair
- Electric Power
This reason may seem to be very obvious, but it is considered to be one of the best features of an electric wheelchair. The mean benefit of having a powered wheelchair over a manual one is that it has a small electric motor. This electric motor has the capacity to move the power wheelchair in a much easier and simple manner.
These electric wheelchairs do not require any upper body strength. These wheelchairs are also considered to be perfect for users who have limited arm or hand movement. This power wheelchair is so convenient that it allows mobility through a simple movement of the joystick.
This also enables the wheelchair to move in any direction which is to move forward, side to side, and backward. This electric wheelchair reduces the inconvenience of manual pushing of the wheels.
- Quick And Easy Maneuver
If you compare a manual wheelchair with an electric wheelchair you would realize that most power wheelchair offers the patient better maneuverability. By providing free movement of the power wheelchair while turning circles the user can easily direct through small areas.
Such areas can be narrow paths or Indoor movement of the electric wheelchair. If you notice an electric wheelchair makes it far simpler and easier for the patients to navigate around any kind of obstacle be it indoor or outdoor.
- Increased independence
Electric and manual wheelchairs both allow the user to get around and undertake daily activities without assistance. An electric wheelchair, in particular, provides increased independence due to it’s ease-of-use and the ability to travel without experiencing fatigue.
However, even a manual wheelchair provides additional flexibility for the user and their carer. For someone with limited mobility who may not be able to walk unaided, a wheelchair can reduce the risk and fear of falling in the home or outdoors allowing you to move around with confidence.
- Movement On Difficult Terrain
If you figure out that there will be a rough terrain to tackle, a power wheelchair is certainly designed for outdoor exploring. Buying a power wheelchair could be the best option to navigate in difficult terrain and inclines. With big tiers and decent enough power in the electric motor, it helps to get you over any kind of hurdles.
You would realize that this power wheelchair is made in such a way that they allow the user to venture over the most difficult tracks. Additionally, a suspension is given in the power wheelchair which helps to make the mobility smoother than on a manual wheelchair.
A manual wheelchair becomes all the more difficult to use when encountering an area that is inclined or hilly. In such a wheelchair it becomes difficult to maintain upper body strength while climbing and has a risk of rolling backward on an inclination.
A power wheelchair is therefore designed to overcome these issues and the electric motor which is present in this electric wheelchair helps to take the hard work out while you are on a slope.
If you buy the right electric wheelchair there is no reason why you can’t travel in comfort.
Good quality wheelchairs are designed for comfort and include suspension, choice of wheels, changeable cushions, and adjustable footrest positions.
All of this combined means you should be able to find a chair that is both practical and comfortable.
- Height Adjustment
An electric wheelchair provides a free adjustment of the height of the wheelchair. One of the biggest advantages of a power wheelchair is that it always allows the user to adjust the backrest and the height according to their convenience.
When we compare it to the manual wheelchair it certainly restricts the movement of the height to be adjusted. Power wheelchair enables the user to change their height to any level that you want to reach, be it a higher shelf in the market or if you would need to sit at a lower height on the dining table.
Almost all the electric wheelchair allows the patient to change the height just at a push of a button. These electric wheelchairs are so efficiently designed that it does not require any third person to help the patient while adjusting the height.
- Electric Wheelchairs Stop Accidental Rolling
Once a manual wheelchair gets rolling, it can be hard to stop. Whether it’s on a ramp or in San Francisco, a manual wheelchair can be prevented from rolling if you put the brakes on but are much harder to stop once they get rolling.
Electric wheelchairs, on the other hand, can be slowed down and stopped with just the movement of the joystick. The power that makes it go is also an excellent way of making it stop.
- Energy Conservation
Using a power wheelchair can be beneficial for conserving a person’s energy. This is especially important for people with disabilities, such as multiple sclerosis or post-polio syndrome. A power wheelchair can allow people to be mobile within their home or community without expending a lot of muscle work and energy. This, in turn, can benefit people by allowing them to conserve their energy for other activities important to them.
- They’re More Sturdy
Weight can be one of the most daunting aspects of power wheelchairs, especially if you plan to take it anywhere. But that weight can also be a positive. Because the center of gravity is lower with electric wheelchairs, they’re much more difficult to tip over. This means that they’re more solid when it comes to front-to-back tipping and side-to-side tipping. Weight has its advantages.
Disadvantages Of An Electric Wheelchair
With some benefits, comes a few disadvantages of a power wheelchair.
Mostly these power wheelchairs are made to provide comfort and stability to the user, but there are a few points that need to be noticed.
Below are a few disadvantages of a power wheelchair:
- Repair And Maintenance
The cost of repairing and maintaining a power wheelchair can be higher than a normal wheelchair. Power wheelchairs are sometimes expensive to repair.
A power wheelchair is typically more expensive than a normal manual wheelchair because of its features and design.
- Size And Weight
A power wheelchair is mostly larger than a normal wheelchair. These power wheelchairs are sometimes difficult to store in every home. If you compare the power wheelchair with the manual one you would realize that the power wheelchairs are much heavier.
The overall weight and size make the power wheelchair less portable and perhaps too heavy for some lifts. some people do use to prefer lightweight wheelchairs over electric wheelchairs because of their size and weight factors.
- Difficulty To Move
With the power wheelchair if the patient is unable to move it, then pushing these power wheelchairs is a difficult task as the weight of it is too heavy. Though power wheelchair is designed for easy maneuvering but only if it is tackled by the patient.
Is a power wheelchair ideal for you? Assuredly, it is dependent on your financial and personal needs. If you decide to get a power wheelchair, you will enjoy the comfort and ease it offer regardless of your size and age.