Electric-powered wheelchairs (EPWs) use batteries to provide versatile mobility and independence for many users.
However, the choice is considerable and picking the right one not always a straightforward decision.
Firstly, it’s worth clarifying the difference between a mobility scooter and a powered wheelchair. Mobility scooters are fairly generic, have 3 or 4 wheels, and are often a suitable choice for people have some mobility and can mount and dismount themselves. Electric-powered wheelchairs have between 4 and 6 wheels and can be rear, all, or front-wheel drive. They can also be more easily customised.
An EPW has a motor that runs on 1 or 2 batteries and because they are manoeuvred using a joystick placed on armrest or rear push handles, they require little hand or arm strength and can be steered using the fingertips. Therefore, an electric-powered wheelchair can benefit anyone unable to use a manual wheelchair or for whom a mobility scooter offers inadequate support.
But which one to choose?
Really, it’s more a case of which one best suits each individual’s needs. Rear-wheel EPWs get an increased push from the back wheels which is helpful over uneven ground or kerbs. All-wheel EPWs are more manoeuvrable in restricted spaces, and front-wheel EPWs grip well and can provide more foot room. Portable EPWs are adaptable and easily transported but are compromised by their lack of customisability and heavy-duty EPWs have increased weight capacities.
Obviously, comfort is key. While all EPCs come with padded chairs, they do come in different styles, so choice can be one of personal preference. Some EPWs feature recline and tilt features to help with pressure sores and can also accommodate elevating power leg rests.
If the wheelchair is a private purchase, it’s worth considering which features come as standard and which may be extras to the EPWs on your shortlist. Wheelchair hire schemes are available for short-term needs or the equipment can be supplied (loaned) by the NHS after a suitable assessment. The Motability scheme, available to people who receive a government-funded disability allowance, allows recipients to hire an EPW for up to 3 years.
Before making a final decision, it’s vital to be sure that your preferred wheelchair will fit in your home. The height and width of the wheelchair must be considered alongside the width of doorways, hallways, and space in the kitchen and bathroom. It’s also worth considering whether a ramp will be necessary.
Ultimately, every individual’s wheelchair is a personal choice based on requirements and preferences which should help with the final decision. Ideally, the more you can sample – inside and out – the better.
With over 20 years’ experience producing and selling wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK, you can be sure that we can offer excellent customer service with a level of knowledge that is completely unrivalled.