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What you need to know about electric wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are part of the physical application devices that improve the performance of locomotor activities limited by disabilities of partial or total type. The wheelchairs are individual vehicles that favor the transfer of people who have lost, permanently, totally or partially, the ability to move. Keep in mind that the wheelchair must be adequate according to the degree of deficiency of the user. Therefore, wheelchairs facilitate mobility for patients who can not walk or move by themselves with other devices, thus facilitating their autonomy and social integration.

The electric wheelchair is a support product designed to facilitate the movement of people who can not perform them independently. Many people believe that using an electric wheelchair will limit their abilities and their arms will lose strength so they choose a manual wheelchair. However, the manual wheelchair is not a rehabilitation device; The wheelchair is propelled with the hands, but it is the articulation of the shoulder that makes a great effort. The articulation of the shoulder is a joint with great mobility, but unlike the hip, physiologically is not prepared for the continuous effort to support the entire weight of the body, hence many people who have long been propelling with a wheelchair manuals suffer shoulder injuries. In addition, the movement with assistive devices (canes, walkers, manual wheelchairs) imposes physiological overloads, such as energy expenditure and increased heart frequency, in people with and without disabilities. Therefore, the more comfortable and easy to propel this chair, the greater the energy savings and fewer injuries will cause its user.

The electric wheelchair is heavier and needs more maneuvering space and more maintenance than a manual wheelchair, but sometimes, it is the only one that allows the movement and the change of position, necessary to carry out the activities of daily life , independently or with less effort for an assistant.

The possibility of moving independently is fundamental in children, because they are in a period of physical and mental development, so it is essential that the chair offers them the opportunity to know and experiment with their environment which facilitates their psychomotor development.

When choosing an electric wheelchair, one of the most important aspects to assess is the possibility of a change in user position, which will provide greater comfort and avoid the appearance of complications such as pressure ulcers. The electric wheelchair should be equipped with different control posture controls; this will avoid a great frustration in the user and provides more independence to change position.

The standard control of an electric wheelchair is a lever commonly known as a joystick. This joystick can have grip adaptations to be controlled by the hand and can be placed on different supports, but even so, not all people can handle it. Some models of chairs offer the possibility of coupling other different controls, so that a person with very little strength in a part of the body is able to move by himself in his wheelchair, and even more, change position and control elements of their environment, such as the computer, the telephone and other electrical household appliances.

Electric wheelchairs offer the advantage of being able to travel through a variety of terrains, which can not be done with manual wheelchairs, thanks to the types of tires and wheel positions they have. The most popular variation is electric wheelchairs with rear-wheel drive, where a large wheel is in the rear and smaller wheels are in front, which provides stability for driving both indoors and outdoors.

Currently, there are wheelchairs that have additional modules capable of controlling other electrical devices in the home or the environment, such as the computer or the telephone. Each chair model has a different system: in general there is an external module with a screen with letters or icons in which the functions of the chair and those of other devices are selected, either from the control of the chair itself, or with push buttons external. This external module has an infrared receiver / transmitter capable of copying and storing several infrared codes, so that it functions as a remote control. The devices to control must be devices that work with an infrared command.

Other systems use radiofrequency, and most commonly bluetooth. “Bluetooth” is the name given to a technology of wireless data exchange to pass information from one device to another without the need for cables. It is integrated into many electronic devices; its normal range of action is about 10 or 15 meters. Mobile phones are the main users, but also computers or tablets. In this way, from the additional control module of the chair, it is possible to use a mobile phone, the computer mouse or another device with bluetooth. These systems allow the interface of access to the computer, mobile phone or other device for daily use, can be the wheelchair itself, either with a simple module dedicated only to that function, or integrated into an external system with greater functions.