Wheelchairs are nothing but chairs that are provided with the wheels for the easy movement of the same. Powered wheelchairs [powered by electricity] are also known as electric wheelchairs.
Electric wheelchairs are operated with the help of electricity. Let us know about the various control systems of the powered wheelchairs here. Wheelchairs are of great help for the elderly people who cannot walk due to debility. There are so many people in the globe who could not walk on their own. Some of them are cripple. Some of them are handicapped. Some of them could have lost their limb due to accident. Even paralytic patients who could not walk can also be benefited from wheelchairs.
Many models of wheelchairs are available in the market. Some models are operated manually, while some other models are operated by battery. There are three types of manually operated wheelchairs. They are self operated, operated by the attendant and wheelbase.
Electric wheelchairs use electric motors that help to move the wheelchair. These electrical wheelchairs will be in all probability fitted with rechargeable batteries [4-5 amps]. The batteries can be designed separately for outdoor use, indoor use or for both.
The occupant will control the speed and the direction of the wheelchair. If the occupant's hand is functional, the joystick provided can control the speed and the direction of the machine.
If the occupant finger and hands are not in a position to function, then those people can go for models that can be operated by using the chin or by using suck or puff scanners. The powered wheel chairs can move forward and also backward.
The powered wheel chair can be turned to right or left. The powered wheelchair can tilt, and recline. The leg of the occupant can be elevated so also the seat.
There are three types of powered wheelchairs. In one type the machine is rear wheel operated, in the other type the machine is operated by centre wheel drive and in the third type the machine is operated by the front wheel drive.
Omni directional wheelchairs
These wheelchairs can be moved in any direction. The wheelchair can move in forward, backward, sideward and even the rotation of the wheelchair is possible. Such wheelchairs are provided with mechanism wheels. These wheels can move in a single plane with three degrees of freedom.
Because of the ability to move in any direction these wheelchairs are very much preferred by the disabled people. The wheelchair can be moved without any hassle in a narrow passage, packed room, and in bad roads with potholes.
The seat of the wheelchair can be lifted to the height of 90 cm if need arises. The seat can be pushed to 30 degrees backward as and when required. These models are fitted with sensor bumper for the safety of the occupant.
Human machine interface
The human-machine-interface helps the occupant to operate the wheelchair with ease and also provides access to the outside systems [work stations], environmental control systems and communication instruments.
The human-machine-interface [HMI] helps the user immensely. HMI displays the function of the wheelchairs. The display may be in the form of picture or text or symbol. The users just need to press the required function. The HMI communicate the impulses to the operating device, which performs the function. With the help of HMI, the user can operate the wheelchair to his liking.
In the standard model, the joystick is the input device. Not all people can use the joystick with ease. Hence in some other models even buttons are provided as input device.
Some models of the wheelchairs are fitted with sensor system. The sensor system will have infrared detector and ultrasonic range finder. These sensors can sense the objects that are nearby, prevent the wheelchair to move further thus avoiding collision and injury to the occupant.
To work the wheelchair better the occupant must be able to access the control of the wheelchair and also the environment. So many models of the control and environment interface are available in the market. These commercially available devices are very useful in controlling the wheelchair and the environment.
Understanding the various controls is really easy in recent models of wheelchairs. Once the controls are understood the wheelchair can be operated safely and effectively. Take some time to read the manuals that come along with the powered wheel chairs to know the controls effectively.