power wheelchair

Should I purchase a Manual or Power Wheelchair?

The decision to purchase a wheelchair should be taken with care and sound judgment. If you are accessing government funding, your manual or power wheelchair will need to last you five years before you can be prescribed a new one. You want to be sure you make the right decision based on your clinical needs and your lifestyle.

Clinical Needs

Your clinical needs are determined in two ways; through your own knowledge and understanding of your body, how it feels, and what you require in order to address any issues you have, and by the recommendations of an occupational or physiotherapist who specializes in properly assessing people who need a wheelchair.


Lifestyle includes many things; where you live (environment), such as a house or apartment, or in the country or city. Will your home environment support the use of a power wheelchair? It also involves how you live your life as well as the activities you regularly participate in. You should consider where you go, how you get there, and how often.

Knowing your own strength and ability to maneuver, does propelling a wheelchair with your arms and/or feet seem like a realistic option? Manual chairs are much easier to transport in vehicles as well. A power chair requires your vehicle to be adapted with a lift.

With your input, a therapist will help you determine if you have the strength to propel a manual chair, how much strain that will place on various parts of your body, and whether it is a good idea long term. Often, if you can self-propel now, it is a good idea to continue to do so to maintain core strength and remain active. The more active you are, the healthier you will be.

Another key consideration is this: once you are prescribed a power chair through the Assistive Devices Program, it is deemed that you are no longer functional to propel a manual chair and therefore you will not be approved for one in the future. For many people, this can significantly impact their decision; perhaps their health condition is such that they know they will need a power chair one day, so for now, they will continue using a manual chair until it becomes obvious that it’s time for a power chair.

Obvious Signs That You Should Purchase a Power Chair

  1. You no longer have the strength or proper functioning to propel a manual chair.
  2. You have never been in a wheelchair and don’t have the strength or proper functioning to propel a manual wheelchair.
  3. Your lifestyle is such that a power wheelchair makes the best sense; you travel a lot, for example, and a manual chair just doesn’t offer the same energy-saving support.

Once you determine the type of chair you will require there are many more options as to what type of powerchair or manual wheelchair you require.  Some manual wheelchairs can even be adapted with specialty assist products like e-motion wheels that give a little power assistance to manual wheelchair users however these have their limitations as well. 

These recommendations are only guidelines for you to get to know a little more about your equipment options.  By talking to a qualified mobility equipment specialist you’ll have an even better understanding of what your options are.  We have built our business around the fact that we make the product fit the user, and not the user fit the product.  That is done by assessing your needs first and then choosing the appropriate equipment for you. Your sales representative will work with you and your therapist to find the best type of chair for you.

What our Clients are Saying

open quotesI felt like a prisoner in my home this awful winter we had and couldn't wait for some decent weather only to find out my scooter wasn't working. I was so frustrated, and getting in contact with my ODSP worker is never easy. I thought for sure this was going to be a long process but you guys put a smile on my face. I will highly recommend Motion to everyone.close quotes
― Cynthia, Toronto ON