Power Mobility Devices (PMDs) help mobility-challenged individuals conserve energy because they require less physical effort to operate than walking or propelling a manual wheelchair. When choosing the best type of PMD, many factors need to be considered, including a person’s:
- Medical condition
- Physical status
- Functional abilities
- Performance of daily activities
- Home and work environment
- Transportation options
Motorized scooters allow mobility-challenged persons to travel long distances, independently. They are available with three or four wheels and come in different sizes with different weight capacities. They are a good choice for those who can sit down and stand up from a chair, safely, and have good trunk control and balance while sitting. Motorized scooters are battery-powered devices that operate by pressing hand throttles and they are controlled through a mechanical tiller system. So in order to navigate one, an individual must have good hand and finger strength and coordination. Motorized scooters can often be disassembled for easy transport.
Some drawbacks of motorized scooters include their size – the length of some types can make it difficult to turn around in small places; and some offer limited seating options which can’t be modified if an individual’s physical condition changes.
A Power wheelchair is a good option for individuals who don’t have the strength or capacity to propel a manual wheelchair, nor the trunk support to maintain proper balance and posture required for a scooter. They are a good choice for those who have been using a scooter, but become unable to because of a decline in their physical condition.
Power wheelchairs come in three different types according to the location of the drive wheels – rear-wheel, mid-wheel, and front-wheel. They have a wide range of seating systems depending upon an individual’s needs and comfort requirements. Power wheelchairs are generally operated with a set of buttons and a joystick mounted on one of its armrests, however the control interface can be customized and many different options are available.
Power wheelchairs make it less problematic to go over difficult terrain and they are generally easier than a scooter to maneuver in different environments because their turning radius is often much smaller. Their limitations include their weight and the fact that they cannot normally be disassembled for transport, generally requiring the use of a ramp or automated lift in order to get them into a van.
A third option for some people is the pushrim-activated power-assist wheelchair (PaPAW). These devices were developed to help people who have difficulty propelling a manual wheelchair over surfaces encountered on a daily basis, such as ramps, carpets, grass, curb cuts, and gravel. They are a good option for people with enough strength to propel themselves in most environments, but need some assistance to navigate difficult terrains.
PaPaWs are units that attach to manual wheelchairs and include specialized wheels with battery-operated motors mounted on the frame. They have sensors on the wheels’ pushrims that amplify the user’s strength when propelling the chair. Their drawbacks include their added weight and the fact that they add an inch or two to the width of a manual wheelchair.
If you require a PMD, you should visit us at Pacific Mobility. We have the expertise to help you decide which PMD is best suited for your particular situation and we will work with you to evaluate and assess your needs in order to find the right device for the right price.
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)