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Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras : opinions, experience?

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    Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras : opinions, experience?

    Power Chairs vs manual chairs for Paras.

    I was curious to hear what others on here thought and felt about this, I'm still fairly new at this game, just 3 years post injury. Being crippled is bad enough, but I often wondered how much the manual wheelchair added to making my life more crippled than it necessarily should be. It seems there are so many things I just don't do or get frustrated with because I have to negotiate them with a manual wheelchair. I know it's a simple idiotic example, but to just carry a cup of coffee from the kitchen to the lounge is pretty much impossible without some innovative gymnastics. I watch a friend in his powerchair glide into the kitchen grab the cup with one hand and easily without thinking drive with the other hand bring me a cup of coffee!

    There is a member buegerman who has a website

    On this page of his site he discusses this, and I have to say I am some what in agreement.

    I have my own powered wheel chair attachment that I attach to my manual chair for getting around the city streets. I don't mind pushing myself 10 blocks, but when I just want to go to the supermarket pick up some groceries and head home, doing it all manually is more work and stress than I want to deal with. The weight of the groceries completely changes the balance of me and my chair, the extra weight makes pushing home a lot harder. In combination I really don't feel stable. To be honest I just want to get groceries I don't want a work out. If I want a work out then I'll go to the gym and use the appropriate equipment. With my powered attachment, I don't even think about it, but I still don't have a free hand, I need both hands to drive it and I can't use it around the apartment. At this point it feels like it would be totally luxury to be able to move around and have one hand free to actually do something, better still have a power chair that is mind controlled and have both my hands back.

    What do other paras think?

    Call me brainwashed if you will but as long as I can physically do what I need to do in a manual chair I will use a manual chair. Aside from very steep hills there is nothing I can't do in my manual chair that a power chair would do for me. I can get myself and my zra in my car in 30 seconds, no ramps, vans or any special equipment. I can take normal taxi cabs (well most of them). Plus its one of the only forms of exercise I get on a regular basis. I am not judging other people, but to me it would be a form of giving up.


      wheelchair is for home, movies and little area that you can get around as you post. I do have a electric and thats when I go joy riding lol.. The streets and side walk in Camden NJ are terrible but its good to have both 4yrs post I must admit...
      life begins when you walk in spirit


        Your profile doesn't indicate what level para you are.

        There is something to be said about conservation of energy to do the important things in life, and the opinions you will get here will run from rah!rah! to pragmatic. I would advise that you decide what you can do, what you need to do, and what you want to do and make up your mind about the need for a power chair for your well being and life style. Don't let the mind set of being a para and not needing assistance rule your head. Make the right decision for yourself, not for anyone else. You may have the choice of the best of both worlds....a power chair when you want or need to conserve energy and a manual chair when you want to get more of a work out or when you have more energy to expend. It is your choice.

        All the best,


          Originally posted by gjnl View Post
          Your profile doesn't indicate what level para you are.

          T4 - incomplete.

          I should have added the overwhelming pressure opinion of the medical profession/insurance companies, is you're a para you get a manual chair, thinking about a powerchair is giving up. Your quality of life is irrelevant in their equations, they've read the book and drunk the koolaid not once is a power adaption/powerchair considered..

          I understand the weight, and convenience argument for an unmodified car, if that is crucial then keep a manual chair for use with your car, but even just carrying groceries to your car is such a pain in the butt.

          I'm all about the Segway chair to be honest.
          CareCure Segway wheelchair Thread


            These things are tools. Like wrenches, pliers, glasses, hammers, crutches, paint brushes.
            Pick the right tool for the job and the job is easier.
            I have a piece of crap manual chair for welding, painting.
            A clean, painted, one for dress up occasions.
            I rent a scooter for, state fair, car show. So I can hold a beer and go at the same time.


              I would think the best thing is to have both types, but not always affordable. Each have their pros and cons.

              I use a manual because:
              It gives me some exercise that I would miss just having a power chair. (and heaven knows I need exercise)

              It gives me a bit larger choice of vehicles that I can drive.

              I don't have to worry about dead batteries or other motor troubles that could leave me stranded. (there's enough to go wrong with a manual chair without adding all the electrical breakdowns to it)

              On the other hand, with a power chair:
              I could get up steeper slopes and go farther without worrying about wearing out my arms and shoulders.

              I could go over rougher terrain without getting stuck so easy.

              I could use it one handed leaving the other hand free to be useful in other ways.

              Anyone else with pros and cons??? Just for info, I'm at the T-12 complete level.


                NW-Will - please tell me about this powered add-on you have!!

                I agree with Susqu, there are pros and cons. I listen to all the trouble that my friends who use power chairs encounter (faulty wiring, bad battery connections, running out of juice in the rain, etc) and I feel lucky that I have the choice to use a manual chair!

                It will depend what type of power chair you use, but I tried running around in one, and I found that a lot of stuff I do easily in my manual chair became really hard (closing certain types of doors, picking up stuff off the floor). Not to mention that all those times when I accidentally bump a wall and just cause a little scrape (in manual) would cause a BIG scrape in a power chair. I'd love to have a power chair now and then, but most of the time my manual one suits me best.


                  I use both types I have a old 2 Hp that barely fits in my bathroom door opening that is why I prefer my elec in my home plus I can carry a cup of water , cook etc ..

                  shopping I use y Gti 5 degrees camber it rubs my walls in my home but great for stores etc...Lightweight and fast I use hand nubs to push myself

                  I have a homemade beater elec outside chair it is a work horse basically mid wheel drive square frame and pneumatic tires It is ugly a bare frame power module . 2 batts , couple of motors lol cost about $150 to build 5 yrs back

                  Last edited by GL; 31 Mar 2011, 1:04 AM.


                    Power chairs are sometimes a pain in the butt but 2nd hand ones are good to have incase our shoulders bother us .


                      Originally posted by NW-Will View Post
                      What do other paras think?
                      If you think your quality of life is going to be better in a power chair go on.

                      When i will get older i will put an E-fix in my ultralight wheelchair, you`ve got the advantages of a power chair but in the space of a manual chair.

                      E- fix
                      Last edited by totoL1; 31 Mar 2011, 3:42 AM.


                        Disclamer: I'm not a para
                        No matter how strong a para you are if you live long enough you're shoulders are going say "fuck you I quit!".

                        @totoL1...I saw your video, you're the most able-bodied disabled person I've ever seen(no offense). You won't need a powerchair untill you're in your late 90's! By then we'll all be in hoverchairs.

                        E-fix? Really? I'm hurt.


                          honestly, the bottom line if you dont use the shoulders they will fail you faster. im a quad func at c6 no tri's 23yrs post, always a manual. if i had got a pc like the idiot experts told me to, i'd be dead. pushing myself to run a manual early on is why im totally ind. how anyone thinks that sitting in a pc not working your upper body is healthy is beyond me, its just silly, and freaking lazy..
                          c4/5 inc funtioning c6. 28 yrs post.
                          sponsored handcycle racer


                            I'm a high complete para and have both. I find the powerchair indoors to be rather difficult. The only plus (indoors) is being able to carry a drink in it (as someone else mentioned). I can't bend to pick stuff up properly, or have the control I have in my manual. Plus, I wreck the walls/my feet indoors in the pc too.

                            I also once got stranded in my pc when it died on me. It was a connection problem and I was stranded and called a neighbour. I was home. I had decided to use my pc indoors as my good manual chair was being repaired, and my back up ancient tank manual was making me really angry. I ended up back in the tank and decided not to rely on the pc unless I had to.

                            I use my pc to go out locally, where the distance and slopes would be too much for me in my manual (my shoulders have been painful ever since my laminectomy). Anywhere else, it's the manual, and I do like to get the exercise. I can push for ages on flat surfaces, but slopes kill me.


                              In an ideal world, everyone should have both. Unfortunately, our current system discourages development of the types of mobility equipment that would represent "the right tools for the job".

                              I sincerely hope one of the major manufacturers takes a serious look at patherat's ZX1.

                              A purpose-specific para powerchair would be an intriguing concept. Something like a lightweight P222SE. Quickie is content to simply continue offering the P222 in its current form until there is no longer any demand for it.

                              Take the basic P222SE concept, reduce the footprint with a different front frame/hanger design, design it for a weight capacity to 265 lbs., eliminate the need to make it compatible with power seating, power it with Lithium ion batteries, and include a detachable joystick that would allow it do be driven remotely onto a lift or ramp...

                              ...Needless speculation. It will never happen.