Categories of Power Chairs
Have you ever seen a power chair at the mall, the grocery store, or any public place?
These phenomenal pieces of equipment had their origin in the 1950s for the benefit of disabled war veterans. Today they are divided into 3 categories, and then there are power scooters.
Type 1 power wheelchair
Limited seating adjustment, intended for flat hard surfaces. The difference between this and a scooter is mainly in the controls, but you can also pick mid- or rear-wheel drive for tighter turning radii.
The seat resembles a seat in a vehicle. It cannot be customized to fit a user's unique needs or compensate for reduced weight shifting or body strength.
Type 2 power wheelchair
This is a joystick controlled power chair with customized seating, suitable for use on most surfaces. If you look at the picture you may recognize that it has a therapeutic cushion and wheelchair style footrest hangars. However, the arms are heavy and not adjustable, and there is little room to adjust the height of the seat or arms.
This chair is ordered from factory at a certain seat height.
Type 3 power wheelchair
Here we have the Cadillac of power chairs, that you can have the seating of a regular manual wheelchair along with power driving. This chair has a lot more options than a type 2 chair and offers ongoing adjust-ability so that the seating and programming can be changed should the user's functional status change, for example if the user has a stroke and requires more torso support it would be possible to change the back type and move it backward or forward.
The picture shows a highly complex power chair with powered elevating legrests, shoulder laterals to prevent leaning, a headrest for decreased neck strength, and a contoured cushion.
Power scooters are used by many to replace a vehicle as they lose licenses or no longer need the ongoing expense as they could really do all of their travelling on a scooter. They are sidewalk friendly, reasonably comfortable, and easy to handle.
Scooters typically have 4 small wheels, a fixed seat, a dash with buttons for speeding up and slowing down, headlights, and batteries with a typical life of 2 years. Baskets, cane holders, and scooter safety flags are common accessories.