Your Wheelchair and Mobility Scooter Resource
Monday, August 9th, 2010
A wheelchair is probably one of the most recognized types of home medical equipment and dates back much further than other types of medical equipment. However, even though the history of the wheelchair, can be traced back many thousands of years, the modern wheelchair has roots that are much much younger.
Today, most manual wheelchairs feature a folding frame that is made out of lightweight hollow metal tubes. The seat has traditionally been made out of vinyl that is sewn around the wheelchair frame, although many newer wheelchairs incorporate improved padding and support. To allow the wheelchair user to self-propel, a manual wheelchair has large real wheels with metal hand-rims attached to the outside of the wheel.
The handrims allow the user to spin the wheels freely and easily, without making contact with the part of the tire that actually touches the ground. The front wheels are much smaller and are on pivots that allow the wheelchair to be turned simply by pushing it in a certain direction or by applying more pressure to one of the handrims.
These modern manual wheelchairs vary slightly in features, with some offering things like adjustable axles or different types of front rigging, which is the place at the front of the wheelchair where the user places their foot. However, the basic design is based on the Everest and Jenning’s Wheelchair(E&J Wheelchair) that was developed during the 1930′s. At this time, most wheelchairs where made out of a combination of wood and wicker, making them extraordinarily difficult to transport and also very hard to self-propel. Two inventors, named Everest and Jenning, set out to build a wheelchair that could be easily moved from place to place and also used without the help of a caretaker, creating a wheelchair frame whose influence can still be seen today in virtually all types of manual wheelchairs.
The manual wheelchair remains the most common type of wheelchair, with many people now opting to use a sports wheelchair, which is typically smaller and offers a number of performance improvements, but electric wheelchairs are also quite popular. Electric wheelchairs are much more expensive than manual wheelchairs, but since the device is powered by an electric motor, it requires little effort on the part of the user, aside from pushing the hand control in the desired direction.
Electric wheelchairs come in a number of different shapes and sizes, as well as offering a number of different control methods, but the joystick control remains the most common. The joystick is mounted to one of the armrests of the wheelchair, allowing for either left hand or right hand use, with the wheelchair users simply pushing the joystick in the direction they wish to travel. For people with limited upper-body strength, a manual wheelchair is often too difficult to use, requiring a great deal of effort, which is the reason many people opt for an electric wheelchair, or power chair.
For those who are unable to use the joystick control, a number of alternate wheelchair controls are also available. One of the earliest alternate controls, which was first developed around the same time as the first electric wheelchair during the 1950′s, relies on head movements to steer the wheelchair. There are also remote controls available for caretakers, as well as a variety of much more advanced systems, including those that allow the power chair to be controlled by the breath of the user.
Wheelchairs continue to be one of the most common and well known types of home medical equipment, offering a way of improving accessibility. While power chairs are very convenient and easy to use, they tend to cost a lot more than manual wheelchairs, which can typically be found both new and used for at least a thousand dollars less than a power chair.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
A wheelchair might seem like a rather straightforward device, but there are many parts that go into a modern wheelchair, with some helping to improve the wheelchairs performance, as well as making it easier to use.
Today, most manual wheelchairs use a design that is based, at least in part, on the E&J wheelchair, which was developed right before WWII. Not everyone is familiar with the E&J Wheelchair, which is the name of its inventors, Everest and Jennings, but most people have seen them. This is the design that uses hollow metal tubes in the frame and a vinyl seat, which allows the wheelchair to be folded when not in use.
The innovation of this lightweight folding wheelchair made it much easier for those who used wheelchair to be get around when it was first developed, as most other wheelchairs were made of heavy wood and other bulky materials. This not only made it difficult to transport early wheelchairs, but it also made it hard for users to self-propel their wheelchair. The E&J Wheelchair solved these problems and its effect on the modern manual wheelchair can still be seen today.
Of course, the sports wheelchair is becoming much more popular, which is a lightweight wheelchair, with performance in mind. There are many different types of wheelchair sports, with many sports having a special wheelchair design. For instance, the wheelchairs used in wheelchair basketball are surrounded by a protective cage and metal bumpers to prevent injuries.
However, there are many much more generic sports wheelchairs around, which are not necessarily designed for a specific sport, but instead include a number of performance features. This includes things like adjustable axles, smaller seats, low profile foot rigging, and many other performance tweaks that make it very maneuverable and fast. Many wheelchair users prefer the sports wheelchair design to that of a traditional folding wheelchair. As an example, most sports wheelchairs have a much lower back, which can make it much easier to turn and reach things behind you.
While manual wheelchairs remain very popular, they require a good deal of energy to use, requiring that the person is fit and in good shape. This requires a lot of upper body strength and this is a factor that leads some to use Electric Wheelchairs, although a lot of people simply prefer a power chair to a manual wheelchair.
Power chairs utilize an electric motor and rechargeable battery, being very well suited for indoor use. Most preform well on packed ground as well, but some are more suited for outdoor use than others. Electric wheelchairs are more expensive than manual wheelchairs, but most travel over five miles on a single charge, which is no small task in a manual wheelchair.
There are several types of electric wheelchairs, but two of the most common are the rear-wheel drive wheelchair and the mid-wheel drive wheelchair. A rear wheel drive electric wheelchair provides a slightly stabler base and is a little bit better suited for outdoor use than a mid-wheel drive wheelchair. However, because the drive wheel in a mid-wheel drive wheelchair is located at the center of the device, they are often much more maneuverable.
Folding electric wheelchairs, as well as travel wheelchairs that can be taken apart are also available, which are not as high performance as regular power chairs, but are designed to be transported without a wheelchair lift.
For many, the wheelchair remains one of the most well known and common types of mobility vehicles, providing a service that is different from that of something like a mobility scooter. Wheelchairs have a rich history of innovation and are as common today, as they were 100 years ago.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
The wheelchair is one of the oldest known mobility aids, greatly improving the lives of those who have difficulty walking. There are many types of wheelchairs available, with sports wheelchairs becoming much more popular over the last ten years. However, for many the choice is whether to buy an electric wheelchair or a manual wheelchair, with both offering their own advantages.
This guide provides the answers to some frequently asked questions about electric wheelchairs, which will help the consumer make an informed purchasing decision.
Electric wheelchairs, which are often called power chairs, are quite popular, but with so many choices and models available, it is important to understand how electric wheelchairs work and what their features are, before submitting to a high pressure sales pitch from your local medical supply store or online dealer.
An electric wheelchair is a motorized wheelchair that is powered using one or more rechargeable batteries. This allows the electric wheelchair, which is often referred to as a power chair, to be used easily away from the home, over both indoor and outdoor terrain.
The first electric wheelchairs, which were developed during the 1950′s, were simply manual wheelchairs that were outfitted with an electric motor, but today, they are custom made.
Choosing between a manual wheelchair or an electric wheelchair is often a very personal decision, as they both offer advantages and disadvantages. In many cases, this comes down to personal preference, but there are several important things that should be considered when deciding whether to buy a power chair or a manual wheelchair.
The main advantage of an electric wheelchair is that it requires very little effort to use, while using a manual wheelchair is very strenuous. Where manual wheelchairs require that the user be pushed or self propel, with the latter requiring a great deal of upper-body strength, an electric wheelchair can be controlled with very little effort on the part of the user.
However, one disadvantage of electric wheelchairs is that they are much heavier and more difficult to transport than manual wheelchairs, which will be discussed later in the how do I transport an electric wheelchair section. Another consideration is that manual wheelchairs usually cost significantly less than power chairs.
Like Mobility Scooters, electric wheelchairs are designed to be used both indoors and outdoors. However, they preform best over tightly packed surfaces. Due to their design, they are also not as well suited for outdoor travel as a mobility scooter is though, usually with a much shorter wheelbase and sometimes smaller wheels, making them work best over concrete or other hard surfaces.
However, unlike mobility scooters, an electric wheelchair can be driven directly up to a table or desk, in the same way that a manual wheelchair can.
Rear-Wheel Drive Power Chairs typically have four wheels, which are spaced evenly apart from one another. The set of wheels in the back, the rear wheels, are what actually moves the power chair.
Mid-Wheel Drive Power Chairs, on the other hand, usually have three sets of wheels. The set of wheels in the middle is positioned directly under the seat and the front and back set of wheels are positioned about the same as those on a Rear-Wheel Drive chair. However, it is the middle set of wheels that moves the wheelchair, with the front and back set of wheels providing support and stability.
The main advantage of a mid-wheel drive wheelchair is that it is more maneuverable than a rear wheel drive wheelchair. Like manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs are steered by moving one wheel, while holding the other still. A Mid-Wheel Power Chair allows for a much smaller turning radius, as the turning axis is directly below the wheelchairs seat.
In contrast, a rear-wheel drive wheelchair turns from the back, as this is where the drive wheels are, which means it will have a higher turning radius. However, because the weight of the rider is more evenly distributed between the front and back of the wheelchair, a rear wheel drive wheelchair is typically more stable and better able to support larger weights. To counteract this, some mid-wheel drive wheelchairs are considerably larger and include support wheels that are positioned further from the frame than normal.
The basic control system that was first developed during the nineteen-fifties is still used today, with a joystick control being the standard control system for most electric wheelchairs. Of course, it is electronically based and made using much better technology, but the concept remains the same.
Typically, the joystick is mounted to the armrest on either side of the wheelchair, with most models also including simple throttle and horn controls as well.
For those who are unable to use the traditional joystick control, a number of alternate wheelchair controls have been developed, with many of these having roots in the first wheelchair systems. Power chair control systems that allow the head to control the wheelchair are one of the more common, with several available that allow the wheelchair to be controlled by head movements.
Another popular option allows the users breath to control the movements of the wheelchair, with the user blowing through a small tube, similar to a straw, to move the wheelchair. There are also a number of experimental controls being developed, with one of the most promising allowing the user to control the wheelchair with their tongue, as it is common for movement of the tongue to remain, even in those who are otherwise paralyzed.
There are also a number of control systems developed with the caretaker in mind, which include remote control systems that allow the wheelchair to be controlled by someone walking behind it.
Also in development, there are several systems that allow the wheelchair to learn an environment, either by using GPS to map the environment or by manually adding map. This allows the wheelchair to navigate a room, building, or even campus, using proximity sensors to detect objects in the way. While still currently being developed, there are several live studies of these types of chairs, including one at a nursing home. Other potential controls, which could revolutionize wheelchair movements, include eye tracking software, which is able to detect where a user is looking.
The seat on most manual wheelchairs is made of vinyl, which is sewn around the frame of the wheelchair, although more breathable materials are also popular, especially on sports wheelchairs. However, the seat of an electric wheelchair more closely resembles a office chair. Some include a high back, with neck rest, while others have a much lower back, but they are typically made in a similar process, with a cushion built atop a hard flat board.
Depending on the model, some power chairs even have a reclining backrest and most allow the seat to be pivoted in both directions, making it easier to transport into and out of the chair.
If you buy a standard power chair, such as those made by Pride Mobility or Golden Technologies, there aren’t really too many options when it comes to the seat. However, special rehab seats are available, which include more supportive headrests, improved cushioning, and fully reclining seats. These power chairs also include individual leg rests that more closely resemble the leg rests used on a manual wheelchair, instead of the single platform that is usually provided for standard power chairs.
Pride Mobility’s Quantum Rehab division is one of the more well known offers of specialized power chairs, with bariatric and pediatric seats available that are mounted to one of their standard power chair bases. These seats also used a much more ergonomic cushioning that provides improved back support, as well as power tilt, which allows the seat to be reclined electronically.
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This varies depending on the model of scooter, as well as how it is used. However, most travel at speeds of between 3 and 4mph, with a range of around 15 miles.
One thing to keep in mind is that the range and speed is affected by the weight of the rider, as well as the terrain being traveled over. For example, if traveling uphill, the wheelchair’s battery will wear out faster and the chair itself will move slower than when traveling across flat ground.
Also, the battery will need to be replaced periodically, with the wheelchair loosing performance and range as the battery wears down.
Electric wheelchairs are much heavier than manual wheelchairs and can not be folded up and placed in the trunk the same way you would with a self-propelled wheelchair. While most electric wheelchairs are designed to be taken apart, the individual pieces can be rather heavy and bulky. As a result, those who intend to use the wheelchair away from home, usually need to buy a wheelchair lift or a wheelchair ramp for their vehicle.
The least expensive option is the wheelchair ramp, with several foldable metal ramps available. These allow the wheelchair to be driven directly into a van, but do not work as well with other vehicles. Often, these ramps are not actually secured to the van itself, but there are also some van ramps available that are bolted to the floor of the van and can be folded down into place, making it much easier to use independently.
Wheelchair lifts are another option and offer much more flexibility, as they can be used on cars, trucks, SUVs, and Vans. Wheelchair lifts either act as a lifting platform, sort of like an elevator, or as a crane. They are also classified as either internal wheelchair lifts or external wheelchair lifts.
External Wheelchair Lifts are mounted to the hitch of a vehicle and typically store the wheelchair outside on the back end of the vehicle. However, there are several hitch mounted crane lifts that are used to move the wheelchair into inside of the vehicle.
Internal Wheelchair Lifts, on the other hand, store the wheelchair on the inside of the vehicle. These work by either extending a platform from the vehicle onto the ground or by using the crane method. In vans, the platform lift works well when it is installed behind the drivers seat, with the mid row seating of the van removed. However, they can also be used on TRUCKS and SUVS. For passenger cars, a crane lift is usually the only option.
Wheelchair lifts are either powered by a rechargeable battery pack or by directly connecting to the vehicles battery. While wheelchair lifts that are connected to the vehicles battery are sometimes a little more complicated to set up, they end up being much lower maintenance, as you do not need to remember to charge the battery pack. Some wheelchair lifts also allow the wheelchairs charger to be plugged into it, so the wheelchair can be charged while on the road.
Travel Power Chairs are electric wheelchairs that are designed to be as lightweight as possible, which can make it easier to travel with them. They are usually designed to be taken apart easily, with the individual pieces being lighter and easier to manage. Also sometimes called portable power chairs, these wheelchairs can sometimes be transported without having to use a wheelchair lift.
However, this comes at the expense of features and range, as the wheelchair is stripped of as much weight as possible. This means a much smaller seat, with less padding, as well as a shorter range and weight capacity.
Folding Power Chairs are also available, which look similar to a manual wheelchair and can be folded in the same way. While these do take up less space than a standard power chair, they are still quite heavy, so are not often the best choice.
Probably the most well known power chair manufactures are Pride Mobility and Golden Technologies, with both companies offering a number of popular and reliable electric wheelchairs. Pride’s Quantum Rehab line is also very popular, as they offer a number of wheelchairs with improved seating and controls, designed with rehab in mind.
While Pride Power Chairs and Golden Power Chairs are the most well known, there are many other manufacturers, with ShopRider Wheelchairs gaining popularity in the past few years by offering a lower price alternative.
When shopping for an electric wheelchair, however, it is important to not only focus on the price of the wheelchair and instead read reviews and consumer reports for each brand, while avoiding the many cheap no-name wheelchairs available. It is also important to make sure the company offers a comprehensive warranty.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
Wheelchairs are important safety tools that are used by those who are unable to walk or have difficulty doing so. While the wheelchair has roots that date back thousands of years, modern wheelchairs are based off of a hollow steel tube design that was developed during the 1930′s. This design remains popular today and helps keep the weight of the wheelchair down, without sacrificing its strength.
While the folding steel tube manual wheelchair is still very common, many wheelchair users prefer electric wheelchairs. Electric wheelchairs offer the same basic functionality that manual wheelchairs offer, except they are operated electronically. Electric wheelchairs also have a design that is much different than a manual wheelchair is.
A manual wheelchair usually has a wide chair, with two large wheels on either side and two small wheels in front. The larger wheels have handrails that extend off of the wheel and allow the user to move the wheels, without having to actually touch that part f the wheel that makes contact with the ground.
Many manual wheelchairs also have push handles that extend backwards from the top of the chairs seat, allowing someone to push the wheelchair from behind.
While most manual wheelchairs are designed to be self-propelled, which is why they have the larger rear wheels, some wheelchairs are only designed to be pushed. These wheelchairs, which are sometimes called transfer wheelchairs or transport wheelchairs, have much smaller wheels.
Sports wheelchairs are also very popular and come in a variety of designs. Some, like those used during wheelchair basketball or wheelchair rugby, are very specialized. For example, since wheelchair basketball can be so dangerous, a wheelchair basketball sports wheelchair will have a guard around the entire wheelchair. Another example of a specialized sports wheelchair is those used for wheelchair racing, which have a much longer wheelbase than other wheelchairs.
Other sports wheelchairs offer a much less specialized design, with a focus more on being lightweight and small, while allowing for optimal turning and speed. These are a popular choice by many wheelchair users, even those who do not actually play wheelchair sports.
Electric Wheelchairs, on the other hand, are not intended to be self-propelled and are instead operated using a rechargeable battery. As a result, they only have a limited range before the battery must be recharged.
The weight of the rider as well as what type of terrain is driven over can affect the wheelchairs per-charge range. So, for example, driving up hill will wear the battery out quicker than driving it on level ground. With that said, many have ranges that are over 8 miles per charge, which is a fairly large distance for most people.
Unlike manual wheelchairs, the wheelbase of an electric wheelchair is very small. Some have four small wheels, with the rear wheels being responsible for actually moving the wheelchair. Other power chairs use a mid-wheel drive system, with a set of wheels in the front and back that provide support, while the set of wheels in the middle are responsible for moving the chair. Usually a mid-wheel drive power chair is much more maneuverable than a rear-wheel drive power chair.
Atop of the plastic base of the power chair, a captains chair is installed. Usually the captains chair is designed similarly to an office chair. The armrests can be folded up and the actual control system is placed on either the right or left armrest. The chair can also be pivoted to make it easier to enter and exit the wheelchair.
Like office chairs, the style of the captains chair varies depending on the model of the electric wheelchair. For instance, some will have a much higher back with head and neck support, while others have a considerably lower back without any neck support.
Often, choosing between a power chair or a manual wheelchair comes down to personal preference. For instance, many prefer the physical effort that is required to use a manual wheelchair, while others find that it is too strenuous.
Cost is also a factor, as you can usually find a quality manual wheelchair for less than $500, while an electric wheelchair usually starts at $1500 and goes up from there.
It is also important to consider where you will be using the wheelchair, as if you are only planning on using it around the home, an electric wheelchair could be overkill. On the other hand, someone going to school and traveling across campus daily might prefer an electric wheelchair.
Transporting the wheelchair is another concern. Most manual wheelchairs are designed to be folded when not in use. This allows them to be stored in the trunk of a car or even the backseat with little difficulty. Electric wheelchairs, on the other hand, are considerably heavier and will often require some sort of wheelchair lift is installed onto the automobile.
Another consideration is that a Manual Wheelchair will almost always work, providing it is regularly maintenance. An electric wheelchair is more prone to mechanical or electrical failure, as well as being more sensitive to rain and other elements. As a result, a manual wheelchair often provides a much more long term and dependable option, without the need for replacing batteries or other maintenance that is required on a power chair.
Monday, October 12th, 2009
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.
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 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.
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.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
In today’s world, the choice of manual or electric often gets looked upon as an easy choice, with power almost always getting looked upon as the easier and more efficient solution. This can be seen in most peoples choice of power tools, power windows, and power steering. However, in the world of manual and electric wheelchairs, the choice is not so straightforward or easy, as both have advantages and disadvantages.
Wheelchairs have been used for thousands of years, with images being found that indicate ancient Asians were among some of the first to make use of a wheelchair for those who had difficulty walking. During the middle ages, wheelchairs would be relatively common, but because they had to be custom made, they were almost only available to those who had the resources to build them, such as figures of nobility.
It would not be until much later during the early nineteenth century that wheelchairs would take on a more standard design, using a simple foldable lightweight steel tube frame. Today, this same design remains incredibly popular among manual wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs are also very common, with an electric motor concealed in a base made of molded plastic and a seat attached to the base of the wheelchair.
One of the first , and arguably most important, steps in deciding whether to use a manual wheelchair or an electric wheelchair revolves around the physical abilities of the wheelchair user. It takes a great deal of physical effort to use a manual wheelchair and this can put a great deal of stress on the upper-body. As a result, using a manual wheelchair can be very strenuous, too much so for many
There is of course also something to be said for personal preference, as many people enjoy using a manual wheelchair precisely because it requires more physical effort. There are a number of sports, such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair racing, which make extensive use of manual wheelchairs as well and many wheelchair users prefer the feeling of independence and flexibility that is offered by using a manual wheelchair. .
While the physical condition of the wheelchair user is one of the most important considerations, the location where the wheelchair will be used is also important. For example, if the wheelchair is primarily going to be used around home, then it will require much less upper-body strength to use than if it were to be used around a college campus. As a result, for home use, many people prefer the simple and less complicated design of a manual wheelchair.
However, those that will be using the wheelchair across larger distances, such as around town or driving around the neighborhood, might be better served with an electric wheelchair.
One of the other major considerations when choosing between an electric wheelchair or a manual wheelchair is the cost of the device. While it is possible to spend a great deal on a manual wheelchair, they still typically cost a great deal less than an electric wheelchair. For those who are unable to get a Medicare wheelchair, Medicaid Wheelchair, or other insurance discount, an electric wheelchair might simply not be affordable.
Monday, August 24th, 2009
Electric wheelchairs, which are often called power chairs, have been around for over fifty years and are very important, because many people are not able to use a manual wheelchair, which requires a great deal of upper body strength. However, power chairs have changed a great deal since when they were first invented.
The power chairs of fifty years ago were simply manual wheelchairs that had been fitted with an electrical motor. The E & J manual wheelchair was very popular at the time and consisted of a foldable frame made up of hollow steel tubes. A number of companies began to develop power chair converter kits, which could be easily added to the E & J frame, turning it into an electric wheelchair. Today, while the influence of the E & J design can still be seen in most manual wheelchairs, power chairs are actually much different.
Modern power chairs consist of a molded plastic base, which consists of the wheels, electric motor, rechargeable battery, and other electrical components. A chair is attached to the base, which in someways looks similar to a high-end office chair, except many also include an adjustable headrest.
The chair, which is referred to as the Captain’s Chair, usually has an adjustable height and armrests that can be raised or lowered to make it easier to transfer into and out of the electric wheelchair. Typically, the chair can be quickly removed from the base of the power chair, to make it easier to transport.
While there have been many changes to the power chair over the years, one thing that has remained the same is the way the wheelchair is controlled. Of course there have been many technological advances, but the joystick has been the traditional wheelchair control since they were first developed. The joystick of the wheelchair allows the wheelchair to be moved in any direction by simply pushing the joystick in the desired direction. An electric throttle, which controls the speed of the power chair, is also usually attached to the captain chair’s armrest.
The joystick control usually only requires a single finger to operate, but for some using the standard control is not possible, so a number of alternate controls exist. Alternate controls can be as simple as a allowing for head movements to move the electric wheelchair, but there are many much more advanced control systems available.
Today, portable power chairs are becoming more popular and manufacturers have begun to manufacture travel power chairs, which are designed to be quickly and easily disassembled into several easy to manage pieces. Individually the pieces are typically rather light, which means the wheelchair can be transported without requiring a wheelchair lift or other type of wheelchair carrier. Of course, to help reduce weight, they usually lack features and do not have as comfortable of a chair. However, portable power chairs can be very useful for those who will be traveling on a plane or other form of public transportation.
Power chairs are today very common, but the manual wheelchair is still the most used type of wheelchair.
Friday, August 21st, 2009
Manual wheelchairs are one of the oldest types of wheelchairs known to man and records of their use can be traced back thousands of years. However, up until the end of the nineteenth century, there was very little standardization when it came to manual wheelchairs and they were often only available to people who had the resources to hire a professional builder.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, however, the wicker basket wheelchair began to become very popular. These wheelchairs provided a wicker seat for the person using the wheelchair, which had a very long and high back. These wicker wheelchairs had three wheels and were not only incredibly bulky, but also very heavy.
As a result of how these wheelchairs were designed, it was very difficult to transport a wicker wheelchair and it was also very difficult for the person using the wheelchair to move it on their own. Instead, they were forced to rely on nurses and family members to push the wheelchair if they wanted to move around.
In addition to the wicker wheelchairs, there were also several popular wooden wheelchairs, which were also incredibly heavy and difficult to transport, but were easier to self propel than the wicker wheelchair.
Despite all their flaws, the wicker wheelchair would remain the standard in wheelchair design for over two decades until the 1930′s, when the first foldable tube framed manual wheelchair was developed. This new wheelchair was created by two inventors named Everest and Jennings and would come to be called the E & J Wheelchair.
Harry Jennings set out to build a newer lightweight wheelchair when he saw the difficulties his friend Herbert Everest was having using the standard wicker wheelchair. Together, they came up with a very innovative wheelchair design, which used hollow metal tubes and a foldable frame. By using metal tubes, they were able to create an incredibly strong wheelchair frame, which was also relatively lightweight.
The E & J Wheelchair frame could also be folded up and placed in a carriage or other vehicle, making easily traveling with a wheelchair possible for the first time. As the E & J Wheelchair was being developed, the build up to the Second World War was beginning and the E & J Wheelchair would soon have a number of users.
The E & J wheelchair was also used as the base of the first electric wheelchair, when inventors in the 1950′s developed an electric motor that could be attached to the frame of an E & J wheelchair. This allowed the E & J wheelchair to be easily turned into an electric power chair and several companies began selling conversion kits for the E & J Frame.
The E & J manual wheelchair quickly became the standard and was used worldwide. Today, E & J wheelchairs are still available and their influence can be seen in virtually all modern manual wheelchairs.
Friday, August 14th, 2009
For wheelchair users, the choice between an electric wheelchair and a manual wheelchair often revolves around the physical abilities of the wheelchair user. However, there are a number of other considerations, including personal preference, budget, and the place the wheelchair will be used.
For those that have decided to invest in an electric wheelchair, selecting the right power chair is very important, so it is important to understand some of their features and some of the different types of electric wheelchairs.
There are several ways to categorize electric wheelchairs, but the drive system is one of the most important considerations. Power chairs are either driven by a mid-wheel drive system or a rear-wheel drive system. Understanding the difference between the two is important, because they both offer advantages and disadvantages.
A rear-wheel drive power chair, as the name implies is driven by the rear wheels. Rear-wheel drive power chairs typically have only two sets of wheels, one in the front and one in the back, with the back wheels being responsible for moving the wheelchair. They may also have anti-tip casters, but as far as actual weight bearing wheels, there are usually only four. Since the weight of the wheelchair user is spread out evenly amongst the four wheels, the rear wheel drive system provides a very stable platform. This makes it a better choice for outdoor use or higher weight capacities.
A mid-wheel drive power chair, on the other hand, has three sets of wheels and is driven by the middle set of wheels. This main advantage of a mid-wheel drive power chair is that it is very maneuverable, which results in a smaller turning radius than rear wheel drive system. However, the weight distribution is not as even on a mid wheel drive system, as the middle set of wheels supports the most weight. This makes them not quite as stable as a rear wheel drive system, but an excellent choice for indoor use, because mid-wheel drive wheelchairs are so very maneuverable.
Deciding whether to go with a portable power chair or a standard power chair is also an important consideration and depends a great deal on the needs of the user and where the electric wheelchair will be used.
Portable power chairs, which are also sometimes called travel power chairs, are designed so that they can be taken apart into several easy to manage pieces. These individual pieces are light enough that they can usually be lifted by most people, so that the wheelchair can be transported without using a vehicle wheelchair lift. However, it is important to note that even though portable power chairs are designed to be as light as possible, the heaviest piece is usually around fifty pounds, so some might still find this too heavy to lift.
In order to reduce weight, portable power chairs have reduced features, such as smaller seats, and also typically have a slightly lower top speed, range, and weight capacity.
Standard Power Chairs, on the other hand, weigh a great deal more than portable power chairs and typically require a vehicle wheelchair lift to transport. Standard power chairs can typically still be easily disassembled, but the individual pieces are typically heavier than those of a portable power chair, with the heaviest piece usually weighing around ninety pounds.
While standard power chairs are not as easily transported without a vehicle wheelchair lift, they are typically more comfortable and include more features. Standard power chairs usually have a more comfortable chair, a higher per-charge range, higher top speed, and a greater weight capacity than travel power chairs.
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
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.
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.