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Power Wheelchair Tips and Resources

Speed—Determine how fast you would like to go. Power wheelchairs usually travel at about 4–6 miles per hour. Rear wheel drive power chairs are easier to maneuver at high speeds.

Free wheel—Some power wheelchairs have this feature. When in free wheel mode, it releases the wheels (disengages the brakes) and the chair can be manually pushed. This is a helpful emergency feature if the battery has run out while the power wheelchair is in use. Do not put it into free wheel mode without assistance from another person.

Table/desk clearance—Select a power wheelchair that will allow the user to fit under a table/desk. Make sure that the arm rests and controls also fit under the table/desk.

Always turn the power off when the power wheelchair is not in use for safety reasons.

Frequently Asked Questions about Power Wheelchairs

What is the difference between a power wheelchair and a mobility scooter?

Both power wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be used indoors and outdoors, but power wheelchairs are generally for indoor use and mobility scooters are generally for outdoor use. The mobility scooter is also controlled by a tiller and the power wheelchair is usually controlled by a joystick.

How do I qualify for Medicare coverage (U.S.)?

A doctor will have to conduct a mobility evaluation and write a prescription. The power wheelchair must be deemed medically necessary for you to complete daily living activities at home, and the doctor must certify that it is not possible for you to perform these tasks with a cane, walker, manual wheelchair or mobility scooter. You must also show that you are able to use it safely and effectively. One of our prequalified dealers in your area will be happy to take you through the funding process.

How often do you have to replace the batteries for a power wheelchair?

The battery will need usually need to be changed every one to two years. When it has to be replaced will depend on use, the terrain you are travelling on, what you are charging routine is and the user’s weight.

Do power wheelchairs come with different type of wheels? If so, what are the differences?

There are two main types of wheels available for power wheelchairs. Pneumatic wheels are filled with air (like a car tire) and tend to promote gentler riding because they absorb shock. There is more traction and stability. Pneumatic wheels will need to be inflated when they start going flat and can puncture.

Foam filled wheels (or “flat-free”) are puncture-proof and as the name suggests, filled with foam. The wheels are low maintenance but the ride is not as smooth as that of a power wheelchair with pneumatic wheels.

What is the function of casters on a power wheelchair?

Casters help stabilize while the power wheelchair is in motion. Casters are usually located opposite the drive wheel (for rear wheel drive, the casters are in front) with exception of the mid wheel drive system in which casters are located in the front and the back of the power wheelchair. Like the drive wheels, casters can be pneumatic or foam-filled. It can also be solid, which will roll easily but may provide a rough ride when going over uneven or bumpy ground.

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