Deciding between a manual or power wheelchair can be a difficult decision. Your physical condition, abilities, and transportation options should be evaluated before making a determination that could impact your quality of life for many years to come. Many users are forced into one or the other for physical or economical reasons. But, if you had the ability to choose one or the other, how would you do it? (Always consult a occupational or physical therapist first).
Power wheelchairs give users the freedom to move without assistance and eliminate the need to worry about physical exertion. This can be a great selling point for individuals with conditions that cause fatigue or restrict movement in their upper body. The downside almost always comes down to price, if the chair is not covered by insurance, they can be extremely expensive. There are other drawbacks as well including portability and increased maintenance.
Manual wheelchairs, on the other hand, require less maintenance and give the user the freedom to be able to exercise or go outside without having to rely on a powered unit. Consideration must also be made for manual wheelchairs such as fatigue. Will you be able to get to and accomplish your day to day activities without assistance?
A recent innovation in disabled mobility is the power assist function that can be added to manual wheelchairs. This feature will increase the revolutions per pass and allow for an increase in efficiency.
The choice between manual and power wheelchairs will almost always come down to preference but it is always a good idea to know the pros and cons of each unit.