Gone are the days when stepping up to a powered wheelchair meant overpaying for something that generally underperformed. Today, powered wheelchairs pair all the cutting-edge features of an advanced mobility scooter with truly unrivalled comfort and convenience.
A powered wheelchair could be just the thing for anyone who could benefit from help getting around during the day, or even around their own home. The very best powered wheelchairs are designed with extensive use in mind, and with the user’s comfort as the top priority.
Just a few of the features and benefits of a high-quality powered wheelchair include the following:
- Joystick controller – Powered wheelchairs typically feature a joystick mounted on the arm-rest, making it easy to control their movement with pinpoint precision.
- Specialist or prescription seating – As well as a wide variety of standard models, there is also the option of choosing a bespoke powered wheelchair with a specialist or prescription seating.
- Tilt and recline – The seating position in a powered wheelchair can also be adjusted, in accordance with the preferences of the user to ensure their continuous comfort.
- Seat elevation – A useful function that can make it significantly easier for the user to get in and out of their wheelchair, safely and without the need for assistance.
It is even possible to commission the manufacture of a 100% bespoke powered wheelchair, where every feature is tailored to suit the exact requirements of the user. Custom powered wheelchairs are usually more expensive, but have the potential to be life-changing for those who use them.
Important Considerations When Buying a Powered Wheelchair
The sheer scope of options available when shopping for a powered wheelchair can make it difficult to narrow things down to the perfect model. However, the process can be simplified by focusing on the five most important facets of a powered wheelchair:
Where a powered wheelchair is to be used on a regular or continuous basis, nothing matters more than comfort. It is essential that adequate posture support is provided and that the seat can be adjusted to suit the requirements of the user. Reclining seats and elevated leg rests are also available as optional extras and can further enhance the comfort and therapeutic properties of a powered wheelchair.
The maximum distance a powered wheelchair can cover will always differ significantly from one model to the next. The typical battery range can be anything from 10 miles to 25 miles from a single charge. It is therefore essential to consider how far you intend to travel and how often you will be taking journeys using your powered wheelchair. Models with longer battery ranges tend to cost more than those with a short range, but their convenience and versatility are unrivalled. There may even be the option of purchasing additional batteries to extend a chair’s range further.
Some powered wheelchairs are designed to be more portable than others. On one side of the market, you will find powered wheelchairs that can be folded down to a small size and transported with ease. On the other hand, you have the larger and heavier non-folding models (often weighing in excess of 80 kg) that can only be transported in specially modified vehicles. Whether or not portability is a priority is down to the user to decide. But if you plan on taking your chair with you on regular journeys, it is advisable to opt for a portable model.
The same also applies to storage, as you need to think about where you will keep your chair when it is not in use. If you have limited storage space at home, a chair that folds down to a compact size could be just the thing. If you plan on storing your wheelchair in a separate utility room or garage, you will easily be able to accommodate a much larger model.
Powered wheelchairs have an intentionally limited maximum speed in order to both comply with the Highway Code and safeguard the user. Generally speaking, it is rare for a powered wheelchair to reach a speed of more than 8.5 miles per hour. Even so, there are some models that struggle to maintain a speed of more than 5 miles per hour – particularly on inclines. Again, speed may or may not be your top priority, but is worth factoring in if you plan to use your wheelchair on a regular basis.