For people with no mobility issues, one wheelchair may seem just like the next. But for those with limited mobility, choosing the right wheelchair can significantly impact quality of life. A wheelchair provides freedom of movement and access to activities that may have been out of reach in the past. A wheelchair can be customized and used for rugged sporting activities or for smooth, streamlined rides along busy city streets.
But when it comes to deciding between a power wheelchair and a standard wheelchair, the choice isn’t always obvious. Both types of wheelchairs have their benefits and limitations. Take a look at some of the following considerations before you make your choice:
What is your current physical fitness and overall health?
A standard wheelchair is primarily propelled by your arms. Not only does this give you full, manual control, but it also keeps you active and helps you maintain muscle strength, healthy blood flow, and joint flexibility. However, if you do not have the muscle strength to propel the wheelchair on your own, or if you are prone to fatigue, a power wheelchair may be a better option.
When choosing between a standard and a power wheelchair, it’s important to consider the types of activities you will be performing throughout the day as well as your current level of fitness and overall health.
What is your daily environment?
Today’s standard wheelchairs are designed for superior performance. Nearly half the weight (anywhere from 21 – 40 lbs.) of their predecessors, they are much easier to navigate and push through crowded streets and around tight corners than previous models.
While power wheelchairs are clunkier and harder to navigate through tight spaces, they can handle steeper inclines and declines than standard wheelchairs. This is because they offer rear-wheel-drive (RWD), front-wheel-drive (FWD), and mid-wheel-drive (MWD). Power wheelchairs allow you to go at a fairly high speed while maintaining consistent stability and control. If you are navigating a large area with uneven surfaces and hills, such as a college campus, a power wheelchair may be preferable.
Where will you spend most of your time in your wheelchair? What is the terrain? Consider your daily environment when choosing between a standard or power wheelchair.
Will you need to transport your wheelchair regularly?
Standard wheelchairs are typically smaller than power wheelchairs, and they’re also often collapsible, making them easier to transfer in and out of cars and public transportation. If you live a fairly independent and mobile life, you may want to consider a standard wheelchair because they can often be disassembled and loaded into a car with very little to no help.
Power wheelchairs can be cumbersome when it comes to travel of any kind. There are few commercial vehicles that are manufactured with the loading devices and space needed to transport a power wheelchair. This may not be an issue for those with reliable public transportation nearby.
When choosing between a power wheelchair and a standard wheelchair, it’s important to consider how often you will need to transport your chair, and what options are available to you when you do.
Can’t decide? Give us a call.
Sometimes the choice between a standard and power wheelchair is a simple one. Other times, the decision can be trickier. At PA Healthcare, we understand that personal preference and lifestyle choices will play a role in your decision, and we can help you choose the best wheelchair to meet your needs.
We want to help you live your best life, so give us a call and talk to one of our knowledgeable representatives today.