A person’s preference between a manual or electric wheelchair typically depends on a person’s physical and financial situation.
Both have their pros and cons, depending on the individual’s physical condition and the product features.
It is one of the most common questions asked when choosing a wheelchair.
People want to buy the best wheelchair that fits their needs and lifestyle.
Below are the pros and cons of a manual and electric wheelchair.
A manual wheelchair requires the individual in the chair to move him or herself without a battery’s assistance.
A caregiver can push the individual in the wheelchair or move manually by using the hands to turn the wheels forward when the user sits down.
Manual wheelchairs are best for individuals that have moderate to good upper body strength because they are self-propelled.
Easy to transport
Requires less maintenance
A manual chair is easy to transport when traveling and do not require battery charges because the user typically moves it.
The easy transportation is linked to the size of the manual wheelchair allows for easy navigation within tight spaces.
They can also be easily disassembled and lifted because most manual wheelchairs have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance.
Require upper body strength
May need caretaker or companion to push
Limited in certain terrains
On the contrary, manual wheelchairs require a certain level of strength and balance, which can create new issues with repeated use, such as shoulder wear and tear.
It can be difficult for users to go longer distances or up-sloping walkways.
An electric wheelchair is propelled by batteries, which allow automatic movements that the user controls.
A control stick is located near the armrest, allowing the user to direct their movement without needing any help.
However, powered wheelchairs are typically more expensive and not easy to transport.
Ideal for individuals with limited upper body strength
Easy and Convenient
Does not require any assistance to push the chair
Electric wheelchairs require no strength from the user, which allows greater long-term comfortability.
They can go further without the user getting tired.
Besides, these wheelchairs typically have more features included in their design like reclining and tilting options which are great for pressure relief and others useful or necessary to health and function.
They have different drivetrains which can cover a variety of terrains, from grass and dirt to pavement.
Not easy to transport into vehicles or when traveling
May require maintenance or extra batteries
However, they are typically heavy and much more difficult to transport and travel with.
They do require regular maintenance and regular battery charging.
Also, they are much more costly than manual wheelchairs because of the high maintenance of the electric wheelchair and sophisticated programming.
When deciding between a manual or electric wheelchair, consider the price range, physical condition, and primary use to find the perfect fit.
Some will find that an electric wheelchair will keep them from getting winded when going up the sidewalk, whereas others may feel they enjoy the independence that comes with propelling themselves.
All in all, people’s preferences vary.