Increasing Accessibility With a Power Chair

Today, many of those who use wheelchairs, opt to go with a electric wheelchair. Electric wheelchairs, which are also called power chairs, are popular for a number of reasons, including the fact that they can be operated with very little physical effort on the part of the wheelchair user.

Power chairs are not exactly a new invention and have been used for over fifty years. Back then, however, power chairs were simply manual wheelchairs that had been outfitted with an electric motor. The E & J Manual Wheelchair, which was incredibly popular at the time, actually had several do-it-yourself converter kits, which were sold to consumers, so they could transform their manual wheelchair into an electric wheelchair.

Today, power chairs remain to be very popular, but most do not share the same design as that of a manual wheelchair. Instead, most modern power chairs have a small plastic molded base, which contains the electric motor, axles, batteries, and other electrical components. A chair, often referred to as the captain’s chair, is attached to the base and often looks more like an office chair, complete with armrests, extra padding, headrest, and in some cases a reclining backrest.

Understanding Electric Wheelchair Controls

While the overall design of the power chair has greatly changed since it was first invented over fifty years ago, one thing that is still very similar is the default control system. The standard control system on electric wheelchairs is a joystick control that is attached to one of the chair’s armrest. This allows the power chair to be moved in any direction by the push of a button. However, unlike the original electric wheelchairs, modern wheelchairs also have a throttle setting to control the speed of the wheelchair. They are also much more sensitive than the first wheelchair controls, deftly turning and controlling the wheelchair in a very fluid motion.

While the joystick control system is the default control for most electric wheelchairs, there are many people who are unable to use it. For these people, a number of alternate controls are available, which can allow the power chair to be easily controlled even by people who are unable to move their hands.

Many of the popular alternate wheelchair controls are based around using the head. There are systems that allow the wheelchair to be controlled by head movements and also some that use the individuals breath to move the wheelchair. There are also a great number of experimental wheelchair controls in the works. This includes using magnets on the persons tongue and even several that rely on a brain computer interface, which uses signals from the users brain to control the electric wheelchair.

In addition to alternate control systems that make it easier for the wheelchair user to control their wheelchair, there are also a number of control schemes intended to make it easier for caretakers to move the wheelchair. The most basic is a simple remote control, either wireless or directly attached to the wheelchair, which can be used by someone walking next to the power chair. There are also much more advanced systems, which can learn the floor plans of a home or other area and then be programmed to move the wheelchair to any area in the home.

Electric wheelchairs are very powerful tools and remain to be one of the most popular accessibility tools. While these devices have been around for over fifty years, modern power chairs are much more reliable, durable, and powerful than their predecessors.