Your guide to power assist devices for manual wheelchairs
Author: Nicholas Sutedja Date Posted:27 January 2022
Using a manual wheelchair for daily mobility can be a real challenge -- especially if you live in a hilly area or suffer from muscle pain, joint pain or weakened upper limbs. Each and every day, you rely on your arms to propel the wheelchair forward and travel from point A to B -- it’s a massive workout and sometimes, travelling can even be unachievable.
However, there’s now a way to make manual wheelchair use easier and more convenient.
Power assist devices can add some “oomph” to the performance of your manual wheelchair and take some of the strain off your limbs. You won’t need to put so much effort and energy into propelling your wheelchair forward, backward or even braking -- you can program the attachment to offer better control over the chair.
So, what exactly is a power assist device? What kind of devices are available? In this article, we share some of our most popular power assist devices and explain the difference so you can make an informed decision about your purchase. Read on!
What are power assist devices?
A power assist device is a motorised device that can be attached to your manual wheelchair. The main purpose of a power assist device is to allow you to move faster in your wheelchair without wasting too much energy. This handy little device is great for travelling uphill and across grass but it can also be of use if you suffer from wrist or shoulder pain.
Power assist devices are aftermarket attachments that fit onto the rear or front of your wheelchair.
What kind of power assist devices are available for wheelchairs?
Push rim wheelchair add-ons
If you find yourself getting tired throughout the day, a push rim wheelchair add on can help reduce the strain on your muscles and joints. Here, the original wheelchair wheels are replaced with wheels that have inbuilt motors and sensors attached to the hand rims. These sensors interpret force during propulsion and turn that force into momentum through the wheels.
Push rim devices can provide forward propulsion and braking assistance, so you can slow and stop as needed. A push rim power assist device is great for those with reduced upper body strength or who have one arm weaker than the other. The device can even be programmed to recognise the weaker arm and compensate for it.
Take the E-motion Push Rim Wheelchair Add On, for example. This device is highly recommended for improving mobility and vitality -- as the device propels you forward, you can minimise energy expenditure and protect your joints from premature wear.
Alternatively, we also stock the E-fix option (pictured above). With this device attached, your wheelchair can be easily moved by hand by uncoupling the drive wheels and the wheelchair can also be pushed by hand as usual via push rims or attendants. The add on itself can be programmed to the user’s needs and easily turns a manual wheelchair into an electric one.
Wheelchair power drives
Want to turn your manual wheelchair into a bonafide speed machine? Then we recommend a wheelchair power drive device! Wheelchair power drives are ideal for people living with disabilities (or their caregivers) who find propelling a manual wheelchair extremely difficult, especially over long distances.
The small motor fits onto the back of the wheelchair and is controlled via remote control or a joystick.
The Light Drive System from Active Mobility Systems allows manual wheelchair users to travel at 10km/h and slopes with a gradient of 20%. The motor is simply attached at the back and can be removed just as easily in a matter of seconds. The device is controlled via a joystick and is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.
Alternatively, the Pride Power Assist HD Device has a cruising range of up to 16km/h, a weight capacity of 182kg and fits wheelchairs around 16” to 24” in width, making it the preferred option for bariatric patients. Like the Light Drive System, the Pride Power HD Device is rear-mounted but also offers a dual-wheel design for added traction and stability while travelling.
Finally, we also have the Sunrise Medical Quickie iXpress that allows you to choose between an ergonomically designed joystick or a fully functional attendant control option with an innovative glide to steer operation. The attachable battery is easy to remove and quick to charge -- it only needs Nickel or Lithium batteries.
Compact and convenient, you can turn your manual wheelchair into a powered one so you can go shopping, go to the movies or keep up with high energy friends and family members.
Get more from your manual wheelchair with Active Mobility Systems
Don’t struggle with hills, challenging terrains and sore joints for a single second longer. You can make manual wheelchair use much easier -- all you need is an attachable power assist device to take the load off your upper limbs and make daily mobility simpler.
We stock all of the add ons mentioned above -- turn your manual wheelchair into a fast, convenient power wheelchair in a matter of seconds and zoom from point A to B with ease. Shop the range online with Active Mobility Systems for fast and affordable shipping throughout Australia.
We’ll provide instructions on how to attach the device to your wheelchair for immediate use.