What should I consider before buying a Full Size / Heavy Duty wheelchair?
Known for stability and durability, full size wheelchairs are designed to withstand the stress associated with higher weights, tougher terrains, and longer periods of use. They typically offer many comfort features such as seats that are adjustable for height and width, angle adjustable backrests, and robust armrests and footrests for additional support. Most manufacturers offer many upgrades to customize the chair to the users specific needs, such as oxygen tank holders, bluetooth connection and many more.
Usually full size/heavy duty wheelchairs are distinguished by where their drive wheel is located. The 3 different locations give the chair different handling characteristics.
Front Wheel Drive (FWD): They have 2 large front wheels and 2 small casters in the rear for balance. These chairs offer good maneuverability and are easier to turn in tight spaces. They offer very good traction making them perform well outdoors on uneven terrain or indoors. They can ‘fishtail’ at higher speeds so usually the maximum speed is lower.
Mid Wheel Drive (MWD): With the drive wheel in the center, ther are 4 casters for stability; 2 in front and 2 in the rear. They have a very tight turning radius making them excellent indoors or out. They are known for their smooth ride. They can be less stable on very uneven terrain or steep inclines.
Rear Wheel Drive (RWD): With drive wheels in the rear and 2 casters in the front, these chairs are good performers for several reasons; They have directional stability, less likely to get beached, and generally have greater power and speed. They do not have as tight a turning radius as the others do, but some users don’t require it.
Every situation is unique. We encourage you to read our ‘Buying Guide’ (linked at the bottom of this page) as there many other features and options that can not only help you hone in on what you need, but make your overall buying and using experience an ideal one!