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Power Mobility

When an individual is not physically capable of propelling a manual chair or if endurance is a problem, then power mobility is an option. The individual can use power mobility, if they have the cognitive ability and some form of motor control—whether through head, hand, or mouth—that can be used to operate the chair. If the individual does not have the cognition to operate a power chair independently, power mechanisms can be used to assist the caregiver in pushing or positioning the individual. Power chairs can be an expensive option and a user or caregiver should avoid entering a purchase agreement without consultation with a wheelchair specialist.

Wheelchairs have become an increasingly important intervention in the older adult. The options are endless and when combined properly can help maximize a person’s independence, health, and well-being.



BUSCHBACHER, R.; ADKINS, J.; LAY, B.; and BRADDOM, R. ‘‘Prescription of Wheelchairs and Seating Systems.’’ In Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Edited by Randall L. Braddom and W. B. Saunders Co., 1996. Pages 381–400.

CURRIE, D. M.; HARDWICK, K.; and MERBURGER, R. ‘‘Wheelchair Prescription and Adaptive Seating.’’ In Rehabilitation Medicine: Principles and Practice, 3d ed. Edited by Joel A. DeLisa and Bruce M. Gans. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1998. Pages 763–788.

KIRBY, R. L. ‘‘Principles of Wheelchair Design and Prescription.’’ In Neurologic Rehabilitation. Edited by Richard B. Lazar. New York: McGraw-Hill Health Professions Division, 1998. Pages 465–481.

KIRBY, R. L. ‘‘Manual Wheelchairs.’’ In PM and R Secrets. Edited by Mark A. Young and Steven A. Steins. Philadelphia: Hanley and Belfus, Inc., 1996. Pages 117–120.

UMMAT, S., and KIRBY, R. L. ‘‘Nonfatal Wheelchair-related Accidents Reported to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.’’ American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 73, no. 3 (1994): 163–167.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Wheelchairs - Frames, Seats, Backrest, Arm Rests, Footrests, Wheels, Safety, Power Mobility - Cost, Clothing guards