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SCI Forum


Power Wheelchair Mobility

By Dave Colescott, PT

Presented on November 8, 2011 at Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA

Learn the skills you need to successfully navigate your power wheelchair in a variety of situations so you can more fully participate in the activities you enjoy. In this presentation, Dave Colescott, PT, of Harborview Medical Center, provides practical tips and guidelines for learning power wheelchair skills, starting with proper positioning and progressing to maneuvering safely in a variety of environments, including mud, snow, crossing tracks and climbing obstacles. Click here to read the written report.

(Click on this link for the SCI Forum on manual wheelchair skills here.)


Presentation time: 30 minutes. After watching, please complete our two-minute survey!

You can also watch this video on YouTube with or without closed-captioning.

For a complete list of our streaming videos, go to http://sci.washington.edu/info/forums/forum_videos.asp.

Report: Power Wheelchair Mobility




In order to really drive your chair well you need to be positioned well. It is critical that you have a good stable base to help keep your trunk stable. Good positioning supports your pelvis and back so you can move your arm or head (depending on what control you’re using) to drive your chair. Good positioning also gives you good line of sight and supports your extremities well.

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Power wheelchairs can be controlled by a variety of electronic input devices.

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Power bases

Different power bases handle a little bit differently, and one may work better for you than others.

Mid-wheel drive (the large drive wheel is located in the middle of the base, under the seat)

Rear-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

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Indoor Skills

Maneuvering in small spaces