Escaping the Footpath: When to consider an off-road power wheelchair

Ashleigh Haskins
By Ashleigh Haskins

Power wheelchairs have come a long way in regards to how they handle varying terrain. Modern power wheelchairs can negotiate tight indoor spaces then head outside and traverse uneven ground relatively well. Many models now offer larger, knobby tires or the option to switch between 'indoor' and 'all-terrain' tires as needed. With improvements in suspension and motors, some power wheelchairs can take their users almost anywhere they want to go.

However, for many people, their everyday wheelchair that gets them around home, school, work, and the general community simply can’t get them everywhere they want to go. They may live in rural areas without footpaths and limited level ground, so simply going to the local park or town centre isn’t possible in their usual wheelchair. Others might reside on farms or properties, needing to traverse dirt tracks, uneven paddocks, and muddy fields to access all areas of their land. Some individuals might aim to coach their child's football team, which involves crossing wet ovals early in the morning after overnight rain. Others may enjoy bushwalking, where they can relax, listen to the birds, and feel rejuvenated. Or perhaps they wish to independently access the beach to join friends and family on the sand. In regions that experience snow for a few months each year, it would be nice to move around easily during winter.

We're sure you’re also able to think of a few reasons where people’s main mobility equipment has not been able to get them where they wanted or needed to go. And that’s where an off road power wheelchair can be the solution that helps people to live their most active life, whatever that may be.

Off-road 4x4 power wheelchairs are built for stability and ruggedness. They feature a high-torque motor on each wheel, typically with knobby tires for excellent off-road traction. These wheelchairs are equipped with large batteries, a low centre of gravity, wide wheelbases, enhanced suspension, and advanced steering systems, allowing them to handle rough terrain, inclines, and sand. Most off-road power wheelchairs are compatible with aftermarket seating, accommodating complex seating needs. Compared to quad bikes, ATVs, or scooters, off-road 4x4 power wheelchairs offer expandable controls (including alternate controls like head arrays and chin controls), power seating functions like tilt and elevate, and have been crash-tested for occupied transit.

As with any equipment, off-road 4x4 power wheelchairs have their compromises. The position of the larger tires and cowling (the shroud covering the wheelchair base) can affect a person’s ability to transfer in and out of the wheelchair. The large size and turning circle of a 4x4 power wheelchair usually mean they are too large for indoor use, so a person will generally need an everyday power or manual wheelchair for those environments. Additionally, the knobby tires of 4x4 power wheelchairs can damage carpets, making them best suited for outdoor use only.

If you’re someone who wants to to escape the footplate, consider an off-road 4x4 power wheelchair. At GTK, we offer several off-road power wheelchairs that might help you get everywhere you want to go. Contact us today to see how we can help you live your most active life.


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Ashleigh Haskins
Ashleigh Haskins More by Ashleigh Haskins