What type of drive configuration should you choose for your power wheelchair?

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There are many types of powered wheelchairs on the market to suit everyone's needs. One thing you will need to consider when choosing such a wheelchair is the drive configuration - in other words, whether you want a front-wheel drive or a rear-wheel drive. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Front-wheel drive 

A front-wheel-drive wheelchair has the main drive wheel at the front of the unit, with two free-turning castors at the rear. This means that the motor is pulling the rest of the chair (and its passenger) along the surface. The wheels, therefore, have excellent traction on the ground and are suited for uneven territory. They will easily move over small obstacles, and this configuration is also excellent for turning around tight corners. The fact that the main wheel is at the front also makes it relatively easy to tuck your legs back, which can be useful when approaching countertops or sinks. Its main downside is that it can be difficult to get used to driving it, so it may be a while before you are fully proficient in it.

Rear-wheel drive

A rear-wheel drive is the opposite of a front-wheel drive, with the drive wheel at the back and the castors at the front. The advantage to this type of unit is its stability; it will generally go in a straight line and is not inclined to wobble or even tip over on uneven surfaces. It may not be such a good choice for indoor use, however, as it will not handle corners as well as a front-wheel drive. It is also a little more difficult to tuck the legs back, as the large drive wheel takes up more room at the rear.

Mid-wheel drive

There is an alternative to these two types, however. A mid-wheel drive has the large drive wheel in the middle of the chair, underneath the driver, with two sets of castors at the front and the back. This type of chair is very easy to drive as its centre of gravity is directly underneath your own, so you should be able to balance naturally as you go around corners. It has a very tight turning circle which makes it ideal for indoor use, although it can be more of a struggle to drive it outdoors over uneven surfaces.

Which type you buy will depend on your own needs. Talk to a supplier to learn more about power wheelchairs