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What Is A Power Assist Wheelchair

Power Assist Wheelchair

Power-assist wheelchairs have made the mobility option easy for individuals with disabilities. It is a hybrid mobility device that combines the features of a manual wheelchair with the help of a motorized system. Its power system provides proper propulsion in various terrains without involving much physical strength.

In this article, we will explore the concept of power assist wheelchairs, the difference between manual and power assist wheelchairs, features, benefits, and how they enhance the overall quality of life for individuals with mobility impairments.

Difference Between Manual and Power Assist Wheelchair

A manual wheelchair serves as a means of transport for individuals who can not walk due to any disability. It requires your strong upper body muscles as you have to push its wheel rims to move it forward or backward.

Otherwise, a caretaker or any other person can assist you in moving around using handles designed on the back of the wheelchair. 

A power assist wheelchair, also known as an electric power-assisted wheelchair, is a motorized device designed to assist individuals with limited upper body strength or endurance in propelling themselves in a wheelchair.

It combines the benefits of a traditional manual wheelchair with the added advantage of electric power assistance. 

How Does a Power Assist Wheelchair Work?

Now let’s explore the basic principle or mechanism of a power assist wheelchair and know how it works. 

As I already discussed it is equipped with a motorized system to run without much external force. Power assist is an aftermarket device that can be fitted on your manual wheelchair. This device can be attached to the wheel hub or placed on the front and rear of the wheelchair. It is a sensor-based device. 

When you push the wheelchair’s rims its sensors detect the motion and activate the motor to provide a proportional level of assistance. This assistance can be adjusted to meet the user’s specific needs and preferences.

This device can deliver more power when traveling on a slope or across a grassy path. Ultimately you use less body strength to move across such terrains. 

Features of Power Assist Wheelchairs

Power assist wheelchairs come with various features and customizable options to cater to individual requirements. Some notable features include:

1. Motorized Wheel Hubs

Motorized wheel hubs distinguish the power assist wheelchair from the manual one. This device generates power through the battery and provides necessary propulsion assistance.

These hubs are compact and lightweight and add minimal weight to the overall weight of a wheelchair. So, you can enjoy the ease of maneuverability without affecting its weight and balance. 

2. Battery System

Power assist wheelchair has rechargeable batteries that provide energy. These batteries are generally located under the wheelchair seat and are easily removable for charging. The lifespan of batteries depends on different factors such as usage, terrain, and weight of the user. 

3. Control Systems

Another amazing feature of these chairs is a user-friendly control system. Anyone can easily adjust the level of assistance provided by the motor. Typically these controls are located on the wheelchair armrest so you can easily access it to make changes. The control also comes in the form of a joystick controller. 

4. Joystick Controller

A joystick controller mounted on the wheelchair offers an effortless way to steer and control the wheelchair. This controller is especially beneficial for users with limited hand strength. Further, this controller allows you to customize the speed settings and acceleration according to your preferences. Joystick is used as a substitute for push-rim propulsion. 

The joystick can be positioned on either side of the wheelchair’s armrest, accommodating left-handed and right-handed users.

5. Adjustable Speed Settings

The adjustable speed settings allow you to choose your preferred cruising speed. Depending on the surroundings you can make changes in its speed. You can maneuver your chair at a slow speed in crowded areas and accelerate it faster in open spaces. This feature enhances your comfort and ensures a smooth and controlled ride in different environments. 

6. Foldable Design

Sometimes we need to travel from one place to another. Many power-assist wheelchair models are designed to be foldable. These features make them convenient for transportation and storage. After folding the wheelchair you can easily fit them into a car trunk or store them in tight spaces. 

7. Suspension System

To enhance the overall ride comfort and stability, some power assist wheelchairs are equipped with a suspension system. This system absorbs shocks and vibrations, providing a smoother experience even on uneven terrains.

Benefits of Power Assist Wheelchairs

Power assist wheelchairs offer numerous benefits to individuals with mobility impairments, including:

1. Increased Independence

The first and foremost benefit of a power assist wheelchair is independence. Yes anyone with a disability can not walk without other assistance. This device helps you navigate in your home and neighborhood with ease without depending on others. You can enjoy a high level of autonomy in your daily life activities. 

2. Improved Mobility

A manual wheelchair person feels overwhelmed on steep paths and grassy areas because you needs to apply more strength for such terrains. For a person with weak shoulder strength, it is nearly impossible to move through such paths. For inclines, ramps, and uneven surfaces power assist wheelchair enables you to overcome and navigate without putting much effort. Further, it makes it possible to travel longer distances without fatigue. 

3. Enhanced Safety

The safety of wheelchair riders is very crucial and power-assist chairs take it step ahead of manual chairs. It not only reduces the risk of strain and overexertion for individuals with limited upper body strength but also helps in preventing injuries and ultimately promotes safer mobility. 

4. Customizable Options

The customization option is a useful benefit of these wheelchairs. With a wide range of customization options, you can make changes to meet your needs and preferences. The options are not only limited to adjustable settings but you can also tailor the wheelchair features to suit your unique requirements. 

5. Improved Quality of Life

As the wheelchair gives you independence and liberty to move around without putting much effort. Somehow it significantly improves the overall quality of your life. A person feels disconnected from society and becomes bedridden If dealing with mobility impairments. Not only is your physical health disturbed but your mental health also starts to be affected. 

However, these devices enable users to participate in various activities, engage with their surroundings, and maintain social connections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How much do power assist wheelchairs cost?

The cost of a power assist wheelchair ranges from $2000 to $10,000 or more. The cost varies depending on the brand, features, and customization options. 

Q2. Can power-assist wheelchairs be used outdoors?

Yes, you can use it as a power assist wheelchairs are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. They are equipped to handle various terrains, including grass, gravel, and uneven surfaces.

Q3. How long does the battery of a power assist wheelchair last?

The battery life of a power assist wheelchair can last between 8 to 12 hours before requiring a recharge. The battery cycle depends on different factors such as usage, terrain, and person weight sitting on it.  

Q4. Are power-assist wheelchairs suitable for all types of disabilities?

Power assist wheelchairs are primarily designed for individuals with limited upper body strength or endurance. However, they may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions or severe mobility impairments.

Consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended to determine the best mobility solution.

Conclusion

Power assist wheelchairs are hybrid wheelchair models that have revolutionized the mobility options for individuals with disabilities. It offers increased independence, improved mobility, and enhanced safety. 

Power assist devices provide an extra boost of power, making it easier for users to navigate various terrains and overcome physical challenges. Further, its customization features and benefits improve your overall life quality.