Electric Wheelchairs

The first electric wheelchair was developed in the early 1950′s. These early power chairs took an existing wheelchair, usually the E & J manual wheelchair, and outfitted them with an electric motor. These chairs quickly became popular and today millions of people benefit from electric power wheelchairs.

While today, electric wheelchairs are much more advanced than the first electric power chairs, they do share one similarity. The joystick control system was first developed in the fifties and is still one of the most popular means of controlling an electric wheelchair today. The joystick can be mounted on either side of the chair and usually only requires a little bit of pressure for the occupant.

There are many people, however, who can not use this type of control system, so there are also several types of alternate control methods that can be used with an electric wheelchair that do not require the use of the occupants hands.

An electric wheelchair and a manual wheelchair share many similarities in regards to the services they provide, but they are also very different. Since power chairs are electric powered, it is necessary to charge them after each use. The range that a power chair can travel per charge depends largely on the model, but the places that you choose to use it can also effect the range. For example, driving the power chair up a very steep hill will cause the chair to loose its charge quicker. Most can travel a minimum of ten miles on a single charge.

An electric wheelchair will typically have a minimum of 4 wheels, but some have six. In these cases, the extra wheels are more for support. The way the wheelchair is propelled will help determine how many wheels it has. A traditional electric wheelchair usually only has four wheels and the rear wheels are what actually move the chair. These are called rear wheel drive power chairs.

A, relatively, new type of wheelchair has become very popular over the last ten years. These chairs use a mid-wheel drive system, a set of stability wheels located in front and in the back of the chair. The mid-wheel drive wheelchair is incredibly maneuverable and this makes it great for indoor usage.

Electric wheelchairs are incredibly popular today and many people would not be able to get around with them.