Today's wheelchairs don't only provide mobility to individuals who are unable to walk or have difficulty walking. They allow users to move around and maintain more active and independent lifestyles and to project their personal styles or individuality. Current wheelchairs coupled with appropriate wheelchair accessories can liberate the user from dependence on otherse. To meet a myriad of users' needs, the two general types of wheelchairs in the market now come in many variations.
Current manual wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs perform diverse functions and come in different sizes, shapes and colours to suit individual preferences and physical needs. Additionally, variations in equipment such as wheelchair lifts, ramps etc make more areas and activities accessible to the wheelchair user.
For those users with upper body strength, the more economical solution is the manual wheelchair. The majority of manual wheelchairs easily fold and fit into small storage areas such as the boot of a car, under the stairs etc, making it the optimal solution when the wheelchair is not being used.
If the user has neither the strength nor the ability to operate a manual wheelchair or if operating one may aggravate their medical condition, an electric wheelchair is most probably the better option. An electric wheelchair has the benefit that its propulsion is carried out using an electric motor, making it ideal for users that are unable to propel manual wheelchairs themselves.
Using a joystick or other form of wheelchair controller, the user can change the direction, speed and other wheelchair functions without physical exertion. In order to choose the electric wheelchair control system best suited to the user's physiological state, test drive a number of electric wheelchairs before deciding which to purchase. As with manual wheelchairs, Electric wheelchairs are also customisable to address the user's specific physical needs and taste.
Compared to manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs are more costly owing to their complex functions and construction. However, electric wheelchairs have greater manoeuverability and superior suspension systems. Moreover, the ease of use and variety of functions provided with an electric wheelchair give the user a greater measure of independence.
Rapid technological advancements give wheelchair users ever increasing capacity to participate in different wheelchair sports such as downhill racing, wheelchair skiing, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, etc. Each wheelchair sport involves a chair customised to meet the particular requirements of the sport (speed, agility, etc.).
Regardless which wheelchair and wheelchair accessories are selected by any individual, all prescribed precautions and safety measures must be conscientiously followed.