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Types of Power Wheelchairs

Front Wheel, Mid Wheel and Rear Wheel Power Chairs

Front wheel drive

The drive system is located towards the front of the seat. The drive wheels are in the front and the casters in the rear. Front wheel drive power wheelchairs can go over bumps and curbs up to 2″ high. It does not have the smallest turning radius but maneuvers very well around tight corners. It is a stable ride when traveling up and down slopes if the battery is located at the rear of the chair (to balance the load with the front wheels). Although this chair is known for providing good stability, it can fishtail when turning at high speeds.

Mid wheel drive

Also known as “center drive,” the drive system for this power wheelchair is located in the center of the wheelchair, below the seat. These chairs boost the tightest turning radius of the three drives and are great for use in apartments, malls and anywhere space is limited. It is very easy to maneuver indoors or on flat surfaces outdoors. It does not maneuver as well over rough terrain. It can sink and lose traction traveling over soft terrain but is stable when traveling on an incline. Usually, an accessible van or vehicle lift is required to transport the chair from one place to another as it is not easily transportable. Mid wheel drive system power chairs are generally only available for weight capacities up to 600 lb.

Rear wheel drive

The drive system is located towards the rear of the power wheelchair with casters in the front. Having the drive in the rear allows for greater maneuverability, even while traveling at higher speeds. It does have a larger turning radius, so it will need more space to make turns. Rear wheel drive system has directional stability, meaning that it naturally tracks straight so it is less sensitive to oversteering. It also maneuvers well over rough, outdoor terrain.