Power wheelchairs have come a long way in recent years, offering a wide array of innovative features that help make mobility easier for their users. Included in those choices are options for motivating your new wheelchair. Before choosing one of the three options listed below, it's a good idea to see how each power wheelchair impacts your lifestyle and mobility needs:
Rear-Wheel Drive Pros and Cons
Once upon a time, nearly every power wheelchair came in this particular configuration. Despite all the other choices out there, rear-wheel drive remains a popular option for a variety of reasons:
- At high speeds, rear-wheel drive offers the most stability and the best ride comfort. This can help users cover plenty of ground quickly and comfortably.
- Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs are among the most affordable, depending on their design and the number of options offered.
However, there are a few disadvantages to the traditional design. Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs offer a larger 360-degree circumference and turning radius than other power wheelchairs, making them a bit more difficult to maneuver than front-wheel or mid-wheel drive wheelchairs. These chairs aren't as good with going over obstacles than their front-wheel drive or mid-wheel drive counterparts.
Front-Wheel Drive Pros and Cons
When it comes to traversing rough terrain, front-wheel drive power wheelchairs reign supreme. The unique configuration places the drive wheels out in front, allowing them to gain traction first over a broad array of inhospitable terrain and pull the rest of the wheelchair with it. Front-wheel drive also offers better weight distribution than their rear-wheel drive counterparts due to their design.
Having the drive wheels situated up front also allows for 90-degree footrests, further enhancing user comfort without compromising on maneuverability. However, these wheelchairs lose out when it comes to high-speed stability - front-wheel drive chairs have a tendency to exhibit fishtailing motions at higher speeds.
Mid-Wheel Drive Pros and Cons
There are plenty of advantages to using a mid-wheel drive power wheelchair. With the drive wheels squarely underneath the user and the turning casters acting as outriggers, these chairs offer a surprising amount of stability on slopes.
These wheelchairs are also highly valued for their maneuverability. Thanks to its tiny 360-degree circumference and turning radius, a mid-wheel drive wheelchair can literally turn on a dime, making it far more maneuverable than front-wheel or rear-wheel drive wheelchairs. This makes a mid-wheel drive power wheelchair the ideal choice for indoor use.
But what the mid-wheel drive power wheelchair offers in maneuverability, it lacks in high-speed stability due to its wheel configuration and sensitive handling controls. Mid-wheel drive wheelchairs can also get bogged down on soft terrain. Mid-wheel drive wheelchairs also suffer from a harsh ride thanks to extra set of wheels and caster design.
It's ultimately up to you to decide which type fits with your lifestyle. You can use the above information to make an educated and informed decision about your power wheelchair, as a good one can see you years of faithful, continuous service. If you want to learn more, contact a company like Jay Hatfield Mobility with any questions or concerns you have.