Did you know that as of 2015, there were 2.7 million wheelchair users in the United States? Owning an electric wheelchair for the first time doesn’t have to be a source of shame. In fact, it can increase your independence as you traverse areas that were previously inaccessible for you.
Even better, you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin because you don’t have to worry about tripping and falling. You’ll also find that some types of wheelchairs allow you to travel in airplanes, buses, and cars comfortably because of their portability.
With this in mind, read on to learn what the top wheelchairs are for you!
Choosing Your Power Wheelchair Type
The easiest place to start is considering your lifestyle and what type of electric wheelchair would serve you best. Think about how you spend the majority of your days. Do you travel often and need a wheelchair that can fold compactly to fit into cars or buses? Would you like to attend more social events in comfort? Here are the three main wheelchair types to consider.
Portable wheelchairs are the lightest out of the bunch. The best part about them is that many can automatically fold or unfold with a push of a button. Once it’s folded, they can be easily lifted to fit inside of a car’s truck without additional equipment needed. This automatic folding ability also makes it easier to use when boarding airplanes or buses.
These wheelchairs may not be as comfortable as full-size ones because they are built to be light. This also means that they have a weight capacity of around 300 lbs. You’ll also find that they’re smaller in size than most electric wheelchairs, making them handy to navigate tight spaces.
If you find that you spend most of your time in your local area without the need to take cars, buses, or airplanes, then a full-size wheelchair may be better for you. Many of them are built with more comfortable seats and armrests with additional padding and add-ons. You’ll also find that their batteries last longer than portable wheelchairs since the battery can be larger.
When it comes to full-size wheelchairs, many come with three wheels or four wheels. Three-wheel wheelchairs are best for navigating tight spaces like apartments or crowds of people. Four-wheel wheelchairs are great for comfortably traversing different terrains like grass or gravel.
Heavy-duty wheelchairs are ideal for bariatric users who need a weight limit higher than 300 lbs. These are the most comfortable chairs with ample padding, wide seats, and heavy-duty wheels that can handle many kinds of terrain. These are also great for users who don’t feel secure in standard wheelchairs and want one that’s able to handle more bumps and curbs along the way.
Trying Out Wheelchair Brands
Once you know the type of wheelchair you like, we recommend going to a store and trying out your top electric wheelchairs. The reason for this is because there are still a number of factors that are hard to judge from a web page online, such as wheelchair’s speed and comfort.
The wheelchair’s speed is almost as important as its battery capacity. The speed determines how quickly you’ll reach a destination as well as how comfortable you are controlling the wheelchair. If a wheelchair is too fast, it’ll take longer for you to adjust to it, and you may feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
If a wheelchair is too slow, you’ll feel as if it’s not having as much benefit on the quality of your life since you’ll begin to feel impatient. The best way to judge the speed of a wheelchair and whether it’s right for you is to try it out first.
If you want a wheelchair with the maximum speed available, many rear-drive wheelchairs can reach speeds of up to 10 mph or more. However, the average speed of a wheelchair is five mph.
Turning radius is another factor that many people don’t consider until they’re sitting in a wheelchair. This will determine how maneuverable your wheelchair is, especially in small homes or while you’re shopping in a narrow aisle at the grocery. Three-wheel wheelchairs are easier to maneuver than four wheels.
A mid-wheel drive electric wheelchair is also better than a rear-wheel, as the turning radius is usually between 20 to 30 inches. Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs, on the other hand, have an average turning radius of 40 inches.
A wheelchair that’s well-padded still may not be comfortable if it’s not able to adjust for your body. Make sure you choose a wheelchair that’s able to tilt, elevate, and recline to your comfort. It’s important to remember that you’ll be sitting in a wheelchair for many hours each day. You’ll experience an improved quality of life with a wheelchair that’s able to adapt to your body instead of the other way around.
Discovering the Best Electric Wheelchair For You
The best electric wheelchair for you isn’t about finding the best wheelchair brands. It’s more about being aware of your lifestyle and finding a type of wheelchair that can fit into your life. If you tend to travel around for miles at a time, we recommend investing in a portable wheelchair that can be packed away in the trunk of a car easily.
If you mainly stick to your local area and need a wheelchair for errands, social events, and other nearby outings, we recommend a standard, full-size wheelchair instead. These wheelchairs are often more comfortable than portable ones and come with increased battery life as well.
Ready to learn more about the best wheelchair to buy? Keep exploring our wheelchair and mobility product review page for more information!