Choosing an optimal wheelchair is a fundamental decision for anyone facing mobility disabilities. A suitable mobility device can improve your quality of life and help you perform your daily activities better. With many in the disabled community seeking to regain some semblance of normalcy, the demand for personal mobility aids (PMA) has soared over the years.
These devices are also an excellent alternative for the elderly, who may not possess enough upper body strength to navigate a manual version successfully. It also grants them the ability to travel distances without experiencing any fatigue. Furthermore, employing a motorised wheelchair can also increase their independence as they do not require the help of a caregiver 24/7 to travel about.
However, getting a PMA device is only one part of the equation. It is still essential to keep your powered wheelchair in great shape for smooth operation. Similar to cars, these devices require a regular maintenance routine to prevent malfunctions. Let us share the various measures you can undertake to keep your electric wheelchair in tip-top condition.
1. Always charge the battery
The battery is the lifeblood of your electric wheelchair. Hence, it is crucial to charge your battery regularly. Always charge your batteries fully before use. Doing so will keep them healthy and minimise the risk of you getting stuck outdoors due to a flat battery.
However, it is not advisable to overcharge your battery. Leaving the battery plugged in for a few hours after it has reached 100% is fine, but do not neglect it for more than 24 hours. Overcharging your batteries can have an adverse impact on them in the long run. For sealed lead-acid batteries, overcharging them can result in the batteries becoming bloated, rendering them unusable. For lithium batteries, overcharging represents a fire risk.
It is also imperative that you do not deplete the battery until it is empty before charging it, as doing so can cause permanent damage. We will recommend you charge the battery once you note the level dipping below 20%. If you notice that your battery is not holding a full charge or your device is running out of power faster than usual, you may need to replace the batteries.
Always refer to the device’s original manufacturers or licensed dealers for repairs, as cheap imitations can cause further issues for your motorised wheelchair.
2. Keep your device dry
Corrosion can occur when your PMA device is exposed to the elements. As your chair is equipped with electronics, direct or prolonged exposure to water may cause it to malfunction. This is because moisture can cause watermarks, corrosion of the electrical components, and short circuits.
However, there are some precautions that you can take. Avoid driving your motorised wheelchair in the rain if possible. After coming in contact with rain or puddles, remember to wipe dry all surfaces of the chair, including the seat. You can also invest in a waterproof protective cover to keep your device dry during downpours.
Mobility scooter capes, in particular, are an excellent method to shelter you and your PMA device from the rain. This cape covers the entirety of your body, while providing a transparent lining on the face region so you can still maintain good visibility when driving your scooter. Moreover, the cape provides cover for the device’s rain-sensitive control panel, motor, and battery. However, it is vital to note that while the cape does provide cover for the rain, it does not mean your device is now completely water-proof. Therefore, it is still advisable to avoid driving your mobility scooter during a heavy downpour.
3. Check the tyres regularly
The wheelchair tyres have to be in good working condition for your motorised wheelchair to function well. Therefore, it is important to have the correct tyre pressure for the best possible performance. Should the pressure be too high, it can potentially cause the tyres to burst. In contrast, too low a pressure will cause manoeuvring issues with the wheelchair. Alternatively, you can get solid tyres, which are maintenance-free and puncture-proof.
The tyres' wear and tear also gradually happens after prolonged usage or frequent travels on rough, uneven terrain. Checking the condition of the tyres is necessary so you can troubleshoot performance and safety issues. Ensure that they are not worn, split, deflated, or punctured. For powered wheelchairs with pneumatic tyres, always check that they are not losing any pressure; for solid tyres, examine the tread for wornness in any areas.
4. Inspect your vehicle parts
Make sure that the nuts, bolts, and electrical connections are tight and secure. For example, the wheels and joystick controller are aspects of your motorised wheelchair that can suffer from accelerated wear. Should you notice any parts coming loose or hear any strange sounds emitting from your wheelchair, immediately reach out to a trusted dealer to rectify the issue. Less responsive equipment can be dangerous, as it may cause sudden power failures and put your safety at risk.
With these tips, you can better look after your mobility device and extend its lifespan. Moreover, proper maintenance can provide you with greater security. Any minor issue may eventually lead to a safety hazard, so it is always best to be cautious and perform routine technical inspections.
At Falcon Mobility, we offer repair services for all models, regardless of brand. If you noticed your PMA device is behaving erratically recently, do not hesitate to contact us to inquire about the issue.