Electric Wheelchairs

The wheelchair is one of the oldest types of medical equipment known to man. Its uses can be traced back thousands of years and every year, the wheelchair greatly improves the lives of the mobility challenged. The electric wheelchair, on the other hand, is a much newer device and has only been available for about sixty years.

The first electric wheelchairs, which were developed during the nineteen-fifties, were simply manual wheelchairs that had been outfitted with an electric motor. They have changed a great deal since then, although there are a few that still share a similar design to these early electric wheelchairs. Most however, have a power base, which contains the electric motor, wheels, and batteries, with a chair mounted to the top of the base.

To control the wheelchair, a simple joystick is attached to the arm of the chair and the wheelchair user can simply push the joystick in the direction they wish to go. Most will also have a button for a horn, a battery meter, and a speed adjustment mounted in the armrest.

While for many people the joystick will provide an adequate control system, there are some who lack the ability to use this type of control and must instead use an alternate wheelchair control system. For instance, it is possible to control the wheelchair with head movements, breath, or even with a remote control. Currently, there are several companies working on a brain controlled wheelchair as well, which will eventually allow the wheelchair user to control their wheelchair with thoughts.

There are many different models of electric wheelchair available and a number of different manufacturers as well, but most electric wheelchairs can usually be classified as either rear wheel drive wheelchairs or mid-wheel drive wheelchairs.

A rear wheel drive wheelchair usually has 4 wheels and the two rear wheels are responsible for moving the wheelchair. They provide a very sturdy and stable base, because the weight is evenly distributed across the four wheels.

A mid-wheel drive wheelchair usually has 6 wheels. The set of wheels in the middle is used to move the wheelchair and the other wheels, which are located on the front and back of the base, are used to provide stability. A mid-wheel drive wheelchair is incredibly maneuverable, however the weight is not as evenly distributed, so it will not be as stable as a rear wheel drive wheelchair.

While the rear wheel and mid-wheel drive wheelchairs are the most common, there are also foldable electric wheelchairs, which use a frame that is similar to that of a manual wheelchair. These are popular for traveling, but lack many of the features of the other types of electric wheelchairs.

The electric wheelchair has greatly evolved over the last fifty years and today provides a very reliable and dependable way to allow a mobility challenged individual to get around.