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Choosing the Right Power Drive for Your Mobility Needs

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A power wheelchair gives you the freedom to move around within your environment, and with the vast choices on the market, picking the right one for you, can be a tough decision.

One of the most important elements of your new power chair is the type of power drive.

What Does Power Drive Mean?

The set of drive wheels are connected to the motors which power the chair. The three main types of power drives are front wheel, center wheel and rear wheel drives.

Front Wheel Drive Power Chairs

Power chairs that are front wheel drives have two sets of wheels, with the power of the chair coming from the two front wheels. Front wheel drive chairs perform very well in overcoming obstacles owing to the size of their front wheels since the drive wheels are the first wheels to come in contact with an obstacle. Hence, if you plan to use your wheelchair mainly outdoors, this could be the right choice. Also, front wheel drive chairs typically have a lower seat-to-floor height and allow for increased ease of positioning of the lower extremities, due to not having swivelling front casters.

Center Wheel Drive Power Chairs

Power chairs equipped with a base with three sets of wheels, with the drive of the chair coming from the center wheels, are categorized  as center wheel drives. The center wheel is primarily larger, with the front and back wheels being smaller, allowing improved stability. With these chairs you are sitting primarily over the middle set of wheels, hence, turning on the spot means turning around the body axis. which corresponds much more to the natural turning of the body when we stand. Depending on the in-built technology, all six wheels will stay on the ground, even if the surface is uneven. Obstacles can be managed easily if the front and rear castor arms can move up and down. These types of chairs are most suitable for outdoor and indoor use, since the design facilitates the smallest possible turning radius as compared to a rear or front wheel drive chair. Center wheel drive chairs have also been reported to be easier to learn to navigate for new users, as the turning point is directly under your spine, just as your legs and feet are when you are standing.  

The Invacare TDX SP2 and the Invacare Pronto are available as center wheel drive power chairs. These chairs also have the patented Enhanced SureStep Suspension feature. This feature allows these chairs to climb up a two-and-a-half to three-inch obstacle moving forward, as well as full three-inch drop when moving forward. Additionally, the integrated Invacare Traction Control Design enables you to climb over obstacles up to one-inch high going in reverse.

Rear Wheel Drive Power Chairs

Power chairs that are rear wheel drive have two sets of wheels, two casters in the front and two dive wheels at the rear. With these chairs, you are sitting primarily over back set of wheels. These types of chairs are most suitable for outdoor and long distance use as the wheel placement increases stability; however, with this wheel base, it also increases the overall turning radius. Having four wheels on the ground allows for improved suspension travelling over bumps outdoors. This wheel drive allows for increased ease of powering through aggressive terrains, such as grass, gravel, and uneven terrain. Learning to use a rear drive power wheelchair may take longer than a center wheel drive as the turning axis is not directly underneath your body axis.

The Invacare Storm Series chairs are available as rear wheel drive power chairs. These chairs also have the Invacare TrueTrack technology. This technology provides you with a brushless motor, meaning maintenance free and decreased noise. This feature also provides an improved ability to maintain directional stability.

Making Your Decision

When deciding on which type of power wheelchair to purchase, keep in mind where you will primarily be using this chair. Front wheel and rear wheel drives were some of the first power chairs available, center wheel drives have become the most commonly purchased in some countries. Taking the above mentioned considerations into account, combined with Invacare’s new patented technologies, including the Enhanced SureStep Suspension, Traction Control, and TrueTrack,  the choice you will make will be perfect for you.

If you would like to read more articles like this, such as; “How long do mobility scooter batteries last”, be sure to check out the rest of Invacare’s Passionate People’s blog site.

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