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Center-Wheel Drive Power Wheelchairs
With drive wheels located mid-ship, center-wheel power wheelchairs are among the most maneuverable types, literally turning on center like a top. In confined spaces, center-wheel drive electric wheelchairs require far less maneuvering than rear-wheel drive electric wheelchairs, and are very intuitive to operate.
Indoors, center-wheel drive power wheelchairs allow you to maneuver all but effortlessly, turning in the smallest kitchens, and outdoors they handle terrain very well, with traction and stability, featuring speeds up to 6.5 mph, and 11 to 14 miles of battery range. Additionally, most center-wheel drive wheelchairs feature large, 10" to 14" drive wheels, with "obstacle-climbing suspension," which allows them to safely, assuredly climb up to 1" to 2" curbs and thresholds.
Center-wheel drive electric wheelchairs feature captain’s seating in high-back and medium-back styles. (High-back extends to approximately neck height, and medium-back extends to just below one’s shoulders.) Captain’s seating is very much like automotive bucket seating, with plush padding, vinyl upholstery, and flip-up armrests. High-back versions feature a headrest and often a manual recline feature, allowing you to adjust the angle for comfort or relaxation. Both high and medium-back versions often fold forward for transport, as well. Solid-pan seating is a captain’s seat option specifically designed for use with a pressure-management cushion. Power elevating seating works in conjunction with captain’s seating, allowing the seat to elevate 4" to 10", depending on model. For reaching counters, sinks, cabinets, and shelves, a power elevating seat is a great tool to help with everyday tasks. Some center-wheel drive electric wheelchair models are standard with electric elevating seating, while it’s an option on others, so if an elevating seat is important to you, confirm availability on the electric wheelchair models that you’re considering. For footrests, many center-wheel drive electric wheelchairs feature a choice of a foot platform, swing-away, or elevating leg rests.
Center-wheel drive power wheelchairs are not easily transportable, and they will probably require a vehicle lift or accessible van, so they should be cautiously considered if you need the easiest transportability.
A center-wheel drive power wheelchair may be best for you if you need:
Full or part-time use.
Captain’s style seating, including an elevating option.
Versatility indoors and outdoors, including fairly rough terrain.
Speeds up to 6.5 mph.
Battery range of 11 to 16 miles, based on model.
A center-wheel drive power wheelchair may not be best for you if you need:
Easy transportability in standard vehicles.
Ultra-compactness and lightweight.
By Mark E. Smith