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Electric wheelchairs are becoming more accessible and hence a prevalent option for those with mobility disabilities. Indeed, a suitable electric wheelchair can bring positive changes to the lives of these people. However, there are different types of electric wheelchairs on the market, so what should kind of factors should we consider before choosing the right one?
 
First understand the needs of individual users
 
  • Physical condition
The reasons for the disabilities are different. It is necessary to know whether the user's upper body can support and control the body parts independently.
  • Body size
The user's figure and physical condition affect the choice of seat and size of electric wheelchair.
  • Living environment
Lifestyle will affect the chassis choice of electric wheelchair.
  • Purpose of use
In addition to the convenience of daily activities, it can also cooperate with the planning of therapists and other professionals to make the electric wheelchair a good tool for training life skills.

Types of electric wheelchair
Base drive system
Wheel size
Battery
Additional functions
 
Types of electric wheelchair
 
Electric wheelchairs can be generally divided into three categories: portable folding, full function folding and stable and durable types.
 
Portable Folding Type
 
  • The smallest and lightest. The advantage is that it can be used or collected in a narrow place and can be folded into a trunk.
  • The battery specification can be used on airplanes and cruise ships, which is convenient for users who often travel.
  • Suitable for people weighing up to 200 pounds and below 180cm.
  • Wheelchair weight: about 17kg - 25kg
 
Full Function Folding Type
 
  • There are a variety of models and price options, which can meet the needs and budget of most users.
  • The power is rather large and durable, and it can go for long distances, enough to power a whole days’ worth of travelling.
  • The back of the chair is high, and the chair is comfortable. The components can be folded, removed, or adjusted. Accessories can be added.
  • The wheel belt is suitable for all kinds of terrain, 300 W and above can be used for climbing and falling slope.
  • With a load capacity of up to 300 pounds, the seat is generally 18 inches wide. In addition, other sizes can be customized for special needs.
  • Wheelchair weight: about 29kg - 39kg
 
Stable and Durable Type
  • Supports outdoor and multi-purpose mobility, such as going up and down stairs. In addition, it has up and down supine positions, command light functions and a high horsepower motor just to name a few specifications.
  • It is the heaviest of all the wheelchair types and cannot be folded.
  • The price is usually the highest of the three types.
  • Wheelchair weight: above 40kg - 80kg

Base drive system

The base drive system of electric wheelchairs can be divided into RWD, MWD and FWD.
  • Rear-wheel drive: this wheelchair has the largest turning radius, though it sacrifices it with a less accurate and sensitive turning ability, so it is most suitable for outdoor travel.
  • Middle wheel drive: though the turning radius of this electric wheelchair is the smallest, the turning accuracy and sensitivity rank among the three. Although the problem of overhead driving wheels appeared in the early products, most of them have been improved now.
  • Front wheel drive: the turning radius of the wheelchair is among the three, and the turning is very accurate and sensitive, so it is most suitable for shuttling in narrow indoor spaces.
  
Wheel size

The advantage of choosing the big rear wheels is that they can be pushed to charging ports manually if the battery runs out of power. However, if there are space, weight and purpose considerations to take into account, there are also small wheel electric wheelchairs to choose from.
 
 
Battery

The battery of the electric wheelchair is divided into lithium batteries and lead-acid batteries. The lithium battery is small in volume, light in weight, more cycles of charge and discharge, longer in service life, but more expensive; The price of lead-acid battery is affordable, but its volume and weight are large, and the cycle charge and discharge times are only about 300-500 times. The weight of a lithium battery electric wheelchair is relatively light, generally about 25 kg.
  
Additional functions

Depending on the individual needs of users, the general stable and durable electric wheelchair can be catered with other functions. These functions allow users to stretch and make daily life more convenient. For example:
 
Back lying: The back can lie back to rest hence relieving seat pressure and preventing pressure sores since the pressure is no longer concentrated in the buttocks. It also helps the user extend their body, allowing a stretch in the abdomen.
 
Standing: Can improve physiological function, improve life skills, and enhance self-confidence.
 
Lifting: The change in height allows for convenience in life functions; lowering the height to get closer to a desktop or transferring to a toilet, and raising it to get things from above, communicating with others on eye level, and more.
 

The above points are the basic considerations when choosing an electric wheelchair. If you are interested in purchasing an electric wheelchair, please be advised to consult an occupational therapist first.