Understanding Wheelchair Drive-Wheel Configurations

During the process of choosing a complex rehab wheelchair, your therapist works with an ATP (Assistive Technology Professional) to determine which power chair and components meet your needs. When selecting a power wheelchair base, drive wheel configuration is an important factor to consider. Front-wheel, mid-wheel and rear-wheel drive each have their own benefits. You should consider your medical needs, as well as how your power wheelchair will be used when selecting a base and drive wheel configuration.

Mid-Wheel Drive Electric Wheelchairs

With a mid-wheel configuration, the drive wheels on a base are in the middle of the complex rehab wheelchair. The user’s center of gravity is practically even with the center of the drive wheels, ensuring a tight turning radius. Mid-wheel drive electric wheelchairs can do a 360-degree turn. This is extremely beneficial when using a complex rehab wheelchair in the home. Navigating small spaces, tight corners and narrow doorways is much easier with a mid-wheel drive wheelchair.

Mid-Wheel Drive Wheelchair Stability

When it comes to stability, mid-wheel drive power wheelchairs are the most stable. These power wheelchairs have six wheels on the ground, with two large drive wheels and four smaller caster wheels. This provides greater stability. A mid-wheel drive power wheelchair is equipped with caster wheels on the front and back of the power chair base, to help prevent the wheelchair from tipping forward or backward.

Traction with Mid-Wheel Drive

A power wheelchair with mid-wheel drive has good traction on most inclines, surfaces and side slopes. Mid-wheel drive power wheelchairs can climb obstacles well, including curbs and small bumps. Mid-wheel drive offers a shorter learning curve, as it is extremely intuitive and a great choice for individuals who are new to power wheelchairs.

Mid-wheel drive complex rehab power wheelchairs are a great choice for individuals who need more stability or will mostly use the wheelchair in the home. If your ATP and therapist believe that a mid-wheel drive power wheelchair is a good fit for you, consider the Edge 3 Stretto Power Wheelchair.

Front-Wheel Drive Motorized Wheelchairs

One of the biggest advantages of front-wheel drive motorized wheelchairs is that is there is more force distributed to each of the four tires. Unlike other drive-wheel configurations, front-wheel drive has two fewer tires in contact with the ground. The greater force increases traction, allowing the front-wheel drive power wheelchair to perform well when driving over grass, uneven gravel or soft terrain. The large drive wheels are the first to encounter an obstacle, like a curb or a step. The large drive wheels “grab” the obstacle and go over it, pulling the rest of the front-wheel drive power wheelchair with them. A front-wheel drive design on a power chair is also beneficial indoors. It easily navigates tight corners in the home.

Positioning on Front-Wheel Drive Power Wheelchairs

Another benefit of front-wheel drive is that there are no front caster wheels, so a user’s feet can be positioned easily. A wheelchair user’s feet can be closer to his or her body for comfort. In addition, 90-degree footrests can be added.

Lower Seat-to-Floor Height on Front-Wheel Drive

Front-wheel drive motorized wheelchairs have a lower seat-to-floor height. This allows individuals to fit their power chair under standard sized tables and desk more easily. This enhances inclusion and social interaction.

With so many advantages, front-wheel drive wheelchairs can truly benefit you. If your therapist and ATP believe that front-wheel drive is a good fit for you, consider the 4Front® 2 Power Wheelchair.

The Benefits of Rear-Wheel Drive

Rear-wheel drive motorized wheelchairs offer many benefits. Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs have two large drive wheels on the back of the base and two casters on the front of the base. The drive wheel placement is the source of the wheelchair’s power, which is ideal for more aggressive outdoor terrain. Plus, when driving over softer terrain, rear-wheel drive has more power to propel the motorized wheelchair forward. A rear-wheel power wheelchair handles grade changes more easily for a smoother ride. Usually, rear-wheel drive motorized wheelchairs are equipped with independent suspension or shock absorbers to ensure a more comfortable ride experience.

Another advantage of a rear-wheel drive complex rehab wheelchair is that it provides excellent control. Motorized wheelchairs turn slower with a rear-wheel configuration, giving the user plenty of time to adjust their joystick to successfully complete the turn. When it comes to stability, the base on a rear-wheel drive wheelchair is larger. The weight of the chair is focused where the drive wheels are located, for greater stability.


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