How to use your electric wheelchair
6 tips for safe driving with an electric wheelchair
Are you no longer able to walk independently (for long)? Or are you paralyzed on one side? If you have these and other progressive mobility problems, buying an electric wheelchair can be a good investment in your independence. Driving an electric wheelchair is different from operating a manual wheelchair. Practice makes perfect - and with our tips, you will quickly learn how to manage your everyday life.
1. How do I put the electric wheelchair into operation?
The first and most important step is to look at the instruction manual. Each electric wheelchair model is different and has its own usage specifications. Make sure you have read the manual and understand the basics before you hit the road.
Check the battery and tyres. Your new electric wheelchair may need to be fully charged before you set off, and air may need to be pumped into the wheels. Thorough preparation will ensure a comfortable ride, keep you balanced and ensure good maneuverability.
Adjust the seat, armrests, footrests (if fitted) and joystick as you would when getting into your new car. This will ensure that the electric wheelchair is adapted to your body and that you can drive comfortably.
2. How does sitting down and standing up work with an electric wheelchair?
It is essential that you ensure a safe transfer into the electric wheelchair. If your model is a foldable wheelchair, make sure that it is correctly unfolded and locked into place. Switch off the electric drive and lock the wheels if you want to sit in your electric wheelchair. The footrests must be turned upwards/outwards to allow access. Stand with your back to the wheelchair, lean slightly forward, your pelvis slightly backwards until you can easily grasp the handles, and slowly sit down in the seat. Adjust your position if necessary and do not rush the process. As soon as you are sitting safely and comfortably, you can press the power button and unlock the wheels.
The same procedure applies in reverse order for getting out of the power wheelchair. Before standing up, make sure that the wheels are locked. Switch off the device, push the footrests up or to the side, grasp the handles firmly, push yourself up with your legs or get help if necessary. And don't rush things. Slow, steady movements are always safer.
3. How do I drive an electric wheelchair with a joystick?
Operating the joystick requires a little practice. The hand must recognize how easily or far the joystick must be moved in which direction to perform the desired action. Take the time to practice in a safe area and on a flat surface until you get used to the balance and maneuverability of the wheelchair. Some electric wheelchairs have more sensitive controls than others, so it is important to practice until you have mastered them.
Don't be discouraged if your movements are not fluid from the start. Learning how to drive an electric wheelchair is similar to learning how to drive a car. It takes time, attention and repeated attempts to stimulate muscle memory and develop automaticity.
4. What do I need to be aware of when using the electric wheelchair?
You should familiarize yourself with these situations to ensure a safe journey with your electric wheelchair:
The turning radius
Some electric wheelchairs have a smaller turning radius than others. This is usually stated in the instruction manual, but it's best to experience it for yourself, so practice the turning circle to see how much room you need when turning. The new Rollz Motion Electric has the same turning radius as the Rollz Motion without electric drive, which means you can turn it on the spot.
Take care on ramps, kerbs and obstacles
When driving on ramps or over obstacles such as kerbs, you must first observe the limit values for incline and decline angles and kerb height specified in the operating instructions. These may be different for each electric wheelchair. We strongly recommend that you do not exceed the limits specified in the operating instructions in order to minimize injuries, falls and loss of balance and stability.
If you wish to use the electric wheelchair on a sidewalk, it is important that you only use the designated up and down ramps. Attempting to drive over a high kerb can lead to a dangerous fall.
When driving uphill, the electric motor needs a little more power, so don't be afraid to push the joystick forward. But be careful: as soon as you reach the top of the hill, you need to slow down, otherwise you could fall forward.
The reverse applies when going downhill. To avoid going downhill too quickly, only press the joystick very gently or not at all - then ride slowly downhill until you arrive safely.
Using a lift with an electric wheelchair is similar to parking a car. It is best to drive in backwards so that you have more freedom of movement when exiting the lift and can recognize obstacles early on. It can be a little tricky at first - don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it, and if you're on your own, take your time.
Most electric wheelchairs are equipped with a carry bag under the seat and/or possibly accessories to attach to the handles where you can hang handbags.
We recommend that you pay attention to the maximum load capacity of your wheelchair, as this can affect balance, maneuverability, speed and battery consumption. The heavier the load, the more power the wheelchair requires. For safety reasons, you should only use the carrycot intended for this purpose and avoid overloading.
5. What is important when I am out and about?
Do you want to use your electric wheelchair mainly outdoors? Then you should note the following:
In rainy conditions
The electrical parts do not tolerate moisture and water and must be well protected. If you are out and about in the rain, you should protect the joystick in particular, as it is the first electronic component to come into contact with water and can cause the product to malfunction. A rain cape or poncho can provide sufficient protection here.
In sunny conditions
Make sure that the electric wheelchair is not parked in direct sunlight. This can cause damage to the battery and electrical components.
6. What should I bear in mind when maintaining my electric wheelchair?
Maintenance is a decisive factor for the service life of your wheelchair. The better you look after your electric wheelchair, the longer you can enjoy it. This is what matters:
Storage conditions are important for electric wheelchairs as they need to be protected from water, frost and chemicals. If you don't want to unplug the battery every time you come home, it's best to store your wheelchair indoors.
The battery is not the only part of the chair that can be damaged by water and low temperatures, but it is the most vulnerable. The fabric of the seat, the straps, the armrests, the footrests and the frame in general can be damaged over time if they are stored in poor conditions. The different materials have different levels of resistance. It is best to store the wheelchair in a clean, dry and safe place.
With most electric wheelchairs, the battery must be fully charged before first use. Check whether this also applies to your model. The service life of the battery is extended if it is charged in good time and does not run down to the switch-off limit.
It is best to fully (or almost fully) charge the battery before driving your wheelchair, especially if you are preparing for long journeys. If you are not charging the battery, it is best to leave it switched off to prevent energy loss.
Regular maintenance is recommended. Do not wait until a problem occurs before bringing the wheelchair in for a technical check. As it is an electric wheelchair, your safety and comfort depend on its proper functioning.
Field report Rollz Motion Performance: Interview with Bidi