George Klein was the first person to invent electric wheelchairs. He was an employee of the National Research Council of Canada and helped veterans injured in World War II.
There are four major types of electric wheelchairs: center, rear, four wheel or front wheel drive. Each individual wheelchair type has its own handling attributes. The types of electric wheelchairs differ based on seating type.
Some of the electric wheelchairs look like manual wheelchairs with a frame and sling seat while others look like a captain's chair with a car type seat. There are portable and small sized models which allow easy folding to heavy weight and large sized electric wheelchairs also known as rehabilitation chairs.
Electric wheelchairs are manufactured for indoor, outdoor or dual functionality use. Wheelchair users who find it difficult to use a manual wheelchair due to shoulder, arm or hand disorders, or those who lack sufficient leg strength to move the wheelchair, need electric wheelchairs. People who have sufficient upper body functionality tend to use manual wheelchairs as their insurance policies may not include electric wheelchair costs.
Using joystick controllers the occupant is able to maneuver the electric wheelchair and control the wheelchair speed. If coordination between fingers and hands is poor then other control mechanisms can be used to operate the wheelchair. Chin controls or sip and puff scanners for people with C2-3 type spinal cord injury and head injuries are available. By blowing into tubes located beside the occupant's mouth the wheelchair is can be moved.
These controllers are not only fragile but very expensive. You can have different powered functionalities built in the electric wheelchair such as leg raising, tilting, reclining, elevation of the seat etc. as well as other functionalities to improve seating posture.
Electric motors are used to propel the electric wheelchairs. Rechargeable batteries of 4 or 5 amperes capacity power the wheelchair. You can use both dry and wet batteries with the wheelchair, whereby dry batteries are morepopular. Charging facilities are present on the electric wheelchair, which you can plug into wall outlets. The older electric wheelchairs have separate units for charging the batteries.