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Why does your power wheelchair move the way it does? The answer is the drive wheel, which is responsible for the maneuverability of your power wheelchair.
Fairly similar to cars, power chairs come in front, rear and center or mid wheel drives. The pivot point for each drive is different and it will determine the maneuverability of the power chair. Where the drive wheel axle intersects with the power base centerline is the pivot point. It is around this point that the chair maneuvers and turns.
So, Where is the Pivot Point?
The pivot point of the rear wheel drive is located at the rear of the power chair behind the seat. Most of the power chair is ahead of the pivot point and is often the most stable kind of power chair. If you have one of these, you probably notice that the chair will lean back on its anti-tip tubes, when going up an incline, to prevent tipping of the chair.
These chairs have a maximum speed of 6mph. The rear wheel design has the biggest turning radius. If you own a chair like this and are going to be replacing it with a different kind of drive wheel, you will need to change the tie-down in your vehicle to accommodate the new drive of the chair.
Front Wheel Drive Power Chair
For front wheel drive power chairs, the pivot point will be right at the front of the chair with most of the chair behind it. You will be sitting behind the pivot point in this kind of chair, which makes it fairly unstable on uneven surfaces, especially going up and down hills.
They are fairly good at going over obstacles and you will have to adjust your turns to take into account the rear of the chair. This chair is slower compared to the other types and has a maximum speed of 5.5 mph. The turning radius is only marginally smaller than the rear wheel drive design.
Mid or Center Wheel Drive Power Chair
On the mid or center wheel drive power chair the pivot point is right under the seat, with the middle of the chair directly above the pivot point. This kind of chair has the smallest turning radius and reaches a maximum speed of 5.5 mph. This chair tends to get stuck on uneven surfaces and you might rethink buying one of these if you have to go over steep curbs.
You will need to think about how and where you will be using your chair before you make your final buying decision.
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