How Suspension Differs for Front-, Mid-, and Rear-Wheel-Drive Power Chairs

Each manufacturer creates a suspension system that works a little differently, and those differences also vary across the drive chassis design. Jay Doherty, OTR, ATP/SMS, explains the difference between Quantum Rehab’s suspension systems for front-, mid- and rear-wheel drive power chairs.

front-wheel drive
The suspension system on a front-wheel drive power chair provides one of the most stable, smooth rides. “The suspension on a front-wheel drive wheelchair maintains the front drive wheels’ and rear caster wheels’ contact with the ground,” Doherty says. “This power wheelchair has a more significant suspension system, which actually absorbs impact from terrain and provides a smooth ride by absorbing the bumps that the person may drive over.”

mid-wheel drive
On the mid-wheel drive power chair, the suspension system incorporates a front caster wheel that can navigate a 3" obstacle. “While the caster wheel is raised, the suspension system pushes the drive wheel down to maintain contact with the ground so the wheelchair can continue to drive in the direction the individual desires,” Doherty says.

rear-wheel drive
On a rear-wheel drive, the power chair has a more rigid suspension system, Doherty says. “The suspension is more for climbing.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Mobility Management.

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