Self-Propelled Wheelchairs and Power Chairs

Over the history of mankind, there have always been inventions that are designed to help those who can not walk. In the grand scheme of things these devices are considered to be wheelchairs, but they are not usually what most people think of as a wheelchair. Instead, the hollow tubbed metal frame with its vinyl seats that most people first think of when considering a wheelchair is a new invention that has been around for less than 100 years.

Today, there are countless models and brands of wheelchairs, enough that it can almost be overwhelming when trying to shop for a wheelchair, but they all share a very similar design. This is not only true of most manual wheelchairs, but also electric wheelchairs.

Basic Manual Wheelchair Design

Most self-propelled manual wheelchairs have two rear wheels that are larger in size. The rear wheels have another smaller rim attached to the outside of the wheel, which allows the user to spin the wheel, without having to actually touch that parts that makes contact with the ground.

Most manual wheelchairs also have a set of push handles attached to the frame of the wheelchair, which allow it to be pushed easily. Transfer wheelchairs, which are not designed to be self-propelled, do not usually have handrims on the rear wheel and instead the rear wheels are only slightly larger than the front wheels.

The Folding Wheelchair Frame

The typical manual wheelchair is also designed to be folded when not in use, which allows it to be placed in the rear of a car without the need of a vehicle wheelchair use. This also makes them well suited for traveling. The frame of the wheelchair is made out of hollow tubes of metal, with steel being the most common type, which is very sturdy and lightweight. Other metals are also sometimes used, but they tend to be more expensive, with the main advantage of these alternate metals being their lightweight. Many sports wheelchairs will make use of a non-steel metal.

Differences Between Manual and Electric Wheelchairs

While electric wheelchairs no longer use a design that is very similar to a manual wheelchair, they do all standard design. Most consist of a small plastic base, which houses the electric motor, rechargeable batteries, axles, and other electrical components. The chair is attached to the base of the wheelchair and armrest controls are usually attached, using a simple joystick control scheme. This allows the wheelchair to be controlled by simply pushing the joystick in the desired direction. The joystick can be configured for either right hand or left hand use, by simply changing which side of the armrest it is attached to.

Of course, there are a number of people who can not use the standard wheelchair control, so there are a number of alternative wheelchair controls available. This includes wheelchairs that are controlled by head movements, the users breath, and even by remote control.

In the case of electric wheelchairs, they can usually travel between 4 and 8 miles per charge, although this is something that varies depending on the weight of the user and the type of terrain the wheelchair is driven over. For instance, driving an electric wheelchair up a hill repeatedly will wear it down faster than if it were driven across flat ground.