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Choosing the right wheelchair is like buying a car, which involves selecting the right vehicle for you and your needs. Although there are many advantages to electric wheelchairs, there are some disadvantages that should be taken into consideration. After all, there's no point in buying an electric wheelchair if you can't use it because of an issue you hadn't thought of.

Advantages to Motorized or Electric Wheelchairs

Minimal effort to mobilize: Minimal effort is needed to control the wheelchair because you use a simple joy stick.

Independence: With an electric wheelchair, you don't have to depend on someone else to push the chair, allowing you the independence of moving about.

Adaptable for severity of disability: The adaptability of an electric wheelchair is astounding. People who have only control of their mouth and breathing have been set up to move their wheelchair using special controls, for example.

Going up hills and ramps: The power of an electric wheelchair makes it easier for you to go up or down hills.

Power for distance: When using a manual chair to go a far, you need to take into account how much energy and ability you have to come back. With an electric wheelchair, you are only limited by the amount of power left in your battery pack.

The Disadvantages to Power or Electric Wheelchairs

As wonderful as a new electric wheelchair may be to help you regain some mobility, they aren't for everyone. They do have drawbacks, which need to be taken into consideration.

Maintenance & repair: The cost of maintaining and repairing an electric wheelchair can be substantially higher than a manual wheelchair.

Initial expense: Electric wheelchairs are typically more expensive than standard manual wheelchairs.

Size: Electric wheelchairs are larger than manuals and may not be suitable in every home.

Weight: Electric wheelchairs are much heavier than manual chairs. The size and weight makes them less portable than manual chairs and perhaps be too heavy for some lifts.

Limited power: If the battery packs are not recharged properly, you may end up with a dead battery before you return home.

Difficult for others to maneuver: If you become unable to move your electric wheelchair on your own, pushing it is very difficult because of its weight and its build.

Shouldn't be only chair: If you have an electric wheelchair, you still need to have a manual chair on standby.

Manual wheelchairs can provide you with mobility when the following occurs:

  • when the electric wheelchair is being recharged
  • if you are going somewhere that can't accommodate an electric wheelchair
  • if your electric wheelchair needs to be serviced or repaired
  • if you are unable to control the chair yourself due to illness or some other issue
  • you must travel in an unadapted car and must bring your wheelchair with you

When planning your wheelchair purchase, you don't need to be alone. Salespeople may try to sell you a more advanced chair than you need. If possible, speak with an occupational therapist or rehabilitation specialist who may be able to help you choose the right type of chair for your needs.