Let’s take a step by step approach to help choose the best custom Power wheelchair
What is your height when standing, and your weight? To get the best service out of your Power wheelchair, your size and its capabilities must match. Generally standard Power wheelchairs are rated for up to 300 lbs. Heavy Duty power wheelchairs increase the weight rating by increasing the size of the powerbase itself, the strength of the motors and other materials that make up the chair. Pick a chair rated at least 10% over your actual weight.
Measure across your lap to see how wide a seat you will need, stay as narrow as possible for better maneuverability. If you are tall or have long legs, you will need a deeper seat than standard.
Where will the chair be used most often? Inside, outside or both? The object is of course, to provide the maximum independence for the user. If we are to use a chair outside over rougher terrain here are a few models of chairs which will be much better.
A larger drive wheel like on the 614HD or the 600ES works better outside and the front swivel caster arms have springs to push the wheels to the ground for better contact and stability. The placement of the drive wheels is a critical item to consider as well. A rear wheel drive model such as the Dualer rides much like how a normal manual wheelchair drives with the rear wheels pushing the chair. Many people who use manual chairs and then require the use of a power chair find this type of propulsion movement similar to what they are accustomed to and therefore, understand the action/reaction response when the wheelchair moves. Another chair drive style called the mid-wheel drive is very popular.
Because the drive wheels are in the center of the chair there is a significant advantage when turning, particularly, when inside, in tight small apartments, in a kitchen near the counter and so on. Usually, the “turning radius” of mid-wheel drives is less than front or rear wheel drive models. The chair can turn at a very sharp 90 degree angle. It is very maneuverable. A front wheel drive chair can sometimes be confusing for the user because the chair is pulled along behind the drive wheels. When the chair is turned it sometimes swings wide and the back of the chair might strike something near. The front drive, however, works well when used outside in open spaces because the drive wheels actually climb over small obstructions by pulling the chair as opposed to having the chair be pushed up against an object and then forcing the wheels to roll over it like on a rear wheel drive.
Will the chair need to be transported? Most full sized power chairs have a comfortable “Captain’s Style” seat and don’t fold or transport easily. Certain models can be carried inside a vehicle like a mini-van when it is loaded using a folding ramp or a powered chair lift platform installed inside or outside the vehicle. Spinlife.com sells a large selection of those products as well. There are a limited number of truly portable full- sized power Wheelchairs, and the Jazzy Sport portable weighs less than 50 lbs disassembled.
Do you have the cognitive ability to operate a Power Wheelchair? Like any piece of mechanical equipment you must be able to learn how the power wheelchair works. You must demonstrate that you can safely control the speed and direction of the chair and can stop the chair on command or at will. Understanding caution and safety where you will not run into the wall or another person or off of a curb is important.