Like cars, powered wheelchairs share the same components that also require thorough checks and maintenance. As a user, you are the first to spot any faults and ensure that your wheelchair functions correctly.
Keep an eye on the mechanical components such as the belt, gears and wheels and ensure that the wiring is kept at a safe distance to avoid getting tangled with the motor parts.
If you need to check them and the wiring, make sure that you reconnect the wires in the right places. Most chairs come with colour coded wiring making it easy to prevent errors.
The engine can indicate if there is a fault with the mechanisms. Once you have become attuned to the engine, you can listen out for any abnormalities. Faults can be caused by an out of line belt, distorted frames or worn bearings. In most cases, if you cannot fix these yourself, it is advised to seek professional help. A good suggestion would be to use the manufacturers guide that can help you familiarise yourself with the technical components so that you can recognise any fault. Regularly check and clean the components and make sure they are free from dirt. Malfunctions tend to happen when the components cannot function properly due to a build-up of grime.
The batteries on powered wheelchairs differ from a car engine. Rather than run on gasoline, they run on electricity and need to be charged to ensure proper mobility. If the battery indicator starts to show less than 1/2 , then you need to charge. Make sure that you do not let the battery run down entirely as this can damage the battery and mean that it will need replacing.
In the event of needing to replace the battery, do it on a set schedule, that way you can guarantee that you do not run out of ‘juice’. If you think that your charger is not working effectively, plug it into the chair and see if it will run while plugged into the charger. Most chargers come with a built in sensors that will prevent the chair from moving while charging. This is to ensure that the user does not damage the charger if accidentally plugged in. If the chair moves while charging, this means that it is faulty.
Things to remember
When operating the chair in wet weather, ensure that you and the chair are covered. Moisture can damage the electrical devices on the chair and may lead to rust. Use a shroud to protect it from grime and moisture.
If buying a new wheelchair, try and get a feel for it before you buy, this will guarantee that you are completely comfortable and give you a feel of the controls. Give the chair regular checks to ensure that everything is functioning as per normal, especially be extra vigilant with the moving parts as these will be the first to go.
If in doubt about your powered wheelchair, take it along to a specialist who will be able to run proper checks and give guidance.
Harry Price is a writer, poker player and entrepreneur. He enjoys going to the gym and being a personal trainer.