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Electric Wheelchairs FAQ

Q: What are electric or power wheelchairs?

A: Electric wheelchairs, also known as power wheelchairs, are wheelchairs which operate via a motor and batteries. Electric wheelchairs are mobility devices that are people who have a limited mobility medical condition and have trouble walking use. Electric wheelchairs often have maneuverability for people who may not have enough dexterity to operate a mobility scooter or standard wheelchair.

Q: Do I need a doctor’s prescription or note to purchase an electric wheelchair?

A: No. You will not need a prescription to purchase an electric wheelchair. Your doctor may recommend, based on your physical assessment and mobility limitations, that you purchase an electric wheelchair. However, you do not need to have approval from a physician. There is a wide array of different types of electric wheelchairs available, so be sure to check out all options before purchasing.

Q: Are Electric wheelchairs made for use indoors or outdoors?

A: Both! Most electric wheelchairs withstand both indoor and outdoor terrains. Certain models may be more suitable for indoor navigation based on their turning radius. A tighter turning radius allows electric wheelchair riders to navigate tight corners or crowded, indoor places. However, most people use their electric wheelchair both indoors and outdoors.

Q: How fast can an electric wheelchair go?

A: The exact maximum speed of an electric wheelchair will be dependent on the make and model. In general, the average electric wheelchair can travel at speeds up to 4 miles per hour. This is an excellent speed because it is quite comparable to the average walking speed of people not using electric wheelchairs. This means you’ll be able to comfortably keep up with friends and family, no matter where you are going.

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The average amount of miles on a single charge will also vary between models. In general, most power wheelchairs can go between 15 to 20 miles on a single charge. Some models with upgraded batteries may be able to travel farther. This is also dependent on the type of electric wheelchair you purchase. Front wheel drive wheelchairs may not travel as long of a distance on one single charge.

Q: What are the differences between the different types of electric wheelchairs?

A: Electric wheelchairs have various subcategories which will help guide your purchasing, depending on what you’re looking to get from an electric wheelchair. Portable power wheelchairs are lightweight and easy to transport. In contrast, heavy-duty electric wheelchairs are available for are looking for something with a solid construction that can support higher weight capacities.

Front-wheel powered wheelchairs have large front wheels, which help it glide well over lots of different surfaces. In terms of back wheels for powered wheelchairs, rear-wheel powered electric wheelchairs have small back wheels to help users who want to be able to glide over hills or rough surfaces.

Electric wheelchairs also come in mid-wheel powered options, which have three sets of wheels, including a large middle set of wheels. These wheelchairs are usually great to help maneuver in tight spaces.

Q: How many pounds can an electric wheelchair hold?

A: The individual weight capacity of an electric wheelchair will depend on its make and model. In general, the average electric wheelchair can accommodate riders up to 350 pounds. For those looking for an electric wheelchair suitable for larger riders, heavy-duty electric wheelchair options are available.

Q: Should I just get a regular wheelchair and save the money?

A: A power wheelchair differs greatly from a standard or traditional wheelchair. A power wheelchair generally operates via a joystick control, which allows the rider to navigate without much needed arm or hand strength. In contrast, a standard wheelchair that is not motor operated requires the user to have the dexterity to propel it forward.

In some cases, individuals require a caretaker to push and navigate their standard wheelchair. Having an electric wheelchair allows users to regain their independence, as they will no longer rely on someone else to help move their wheelchair. 

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Q: How do I transport my electric wheelchair?

A: Some electric wheelchairs easily break down into several, lightweight pieces to make transportation easier. You should consider one of these options if you anticipate frequent travel with your wheelchair. Electric lifts are available for your vehicle to ease in the transportation process.

Q: Can I take my electric wheelchair on a plane?

A: Many people travel with their electric mobility devices. These devices have batteries that are accepted by major airlines. You may also be able to take your electric wheelchair on boats, trains, or buses, as needed. There are no limits to where you and your electric wheelchair can go!

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