You’re probably familiar with a standard wheelchair, as it’s a common medical device that helps people with disabilities get around much easier. A power chair takes this standard concept and kicks it up a notch by combining an electric motor with sturdier wheels.
If you have an elderly or disabled person in your life, chances are they can benefit from the effortless controls and precise movements of a power chair. However, before you immediately start hitting the market, it’s important to better understand what a power chair is as well as which chairs might be the best choice for your senior.
Components of a Power Chair
A power chair is made up of several different parts, all of which work together to provide a comfortable and convenient experience for the user. The main parts include:
- A base, which holds the batteries, motor, drive wheels, and other controlling electronics
- Controls, which might be in the form of a joystick or switch
- A seat, which is made up of a cushion and backrest to provide comfort and support while riding in the chair
Type of Drive
Chairs can be rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, or mid-wheel drive. Each of these configurations have different benefits.
- Rear-wheel drive chairs feature larger wheels in the back, with casters in the front. This type of chair is stable but is harder to use in small places because it doesn’t have a tight turn radius.
- Front-wheel drive chairs feature larger wheels in the front, with casters in the back. This type of chair is stable and has a tight turn radius, but can be hard to drive straight because it has a tendency to fishtail.
- Mid-wheel drive chairs feature larger wheels directly beneath the user’s center of gravity. This type of chair has a tight turn radius but is not recommended for outdoor use.
Benefits of a Power Wheelchair
Obviously, a power chair reduces the strain on a person’s arms and shoulders, as they won’t need to push or pull themselves. This is especially important for seniors, as they often lack the muscle strength to maneuver themselves and could easily strain their back or shoulders while trying.
Additionally, most power chairs have sturdier tires than a standard wheelchair. This allows the senior to take the chair in a number of different environments, including their home, the mall, or even down the sidewalk. Power chairs also have the ability to make tight turns, making them ideal for use in the home, where there might be tight corners and smaller rooms.
Another important feature of a power chair is the ability to recline, tilt, and elevate the seat. This combination of features helps the user to find a comfortable seated position with good posture. It can also help caretakers access catheters and reduce the chances of injury. Unfortunately, these specific features aren’t usually standard, so it’s important to find a chair that offers this level of support.
Power Chairs to Choose From
Because the market is flooded with a variety of power chairs, you might not know where to turn. Here are a couple of our recommendations based on our years of experience dealing with senior mobility issues.
Pride Jazzy Elite ES
The Jazzy Elite ES by Pride offers a tight turning radius, high-back seat with headrest, and large footplate for the best comfort available. In particular, the flip-up arms, front-wheel drive, indoor/outdoor capabilities, and convenient rear battery access make this a good all-around wheelchair for the everyday user.
Golden Compass HD
With a 450-pound weight capacity, the Golden Compass HD is perfect for larger seniors who need a little more support. In addition to this higher weight support, it features mid wheel drive, height-adjustable front and rear seat posts, flip-up armrests, a sliding seat bracket, and elevating leg rests for extreme comfort while on the go.
Remember, choosing a power chair for your loved one is not something you have to do alone. Let us help you through this process, as we have the knowledge and passion necessary to make the best-personalized recommendations based on your senior’s health issues and needs. Call Comfort N Mobility now at 850.934.5217 to start working with us.