POWER Chairs!

Has anyone ever asked you to name your best feature? Is it your witty conversational style? Maybe your blue eyes? Perhaps it is your vivacious personality? Well, here we gave power wheelchair manufacturers the opportunity to brag a little bit about their power chairs and their company. Here's what they had to say!

Bragging Rights:
Service After the Sale!

Power Chair: C300
Barry Steelman
Marketing Manager
(800) 736-0925

Permobil's C300 PS
A great foundation, or base, is the key for Permobil's power chair powerhouse. The base features increased ground clearance, rear suspension and four-pole motors. The PS seat is fully adjustable with seat widths and depths from 16 to 22 inches, flip-back armrests and swing-away footplates.

What's Your Best Feature?
The Permobil C300 offers seating that is fully adjustable for 16-22 inches in width and depth without having to purchase a new seating system. Permobil offers four-pole motors on the C300 base as well as suspension on the rear swing arm, providing a smoother more comfortable ride.

Reason to Buy:
With Permobil you are purchasing more than a power wheelchair; Permobil has some of the most knowledgeable sales force and technical staff in the industry. The service after sale is unmatched with Permobil's quality staff.

Bragging Rights:

Power Chairs: Quickie Rhythm Series
Paul Banz
Senior Marketing Manager
(800) 333-4000

Sunrise Medical's Quickie Rhythm Series
Driving on air never seemed as possible as it does with the soft ride provided by the Quickie Rhythm Series. Give the credit to the unique 6form® suspension — a six-wheel, independent suspension that includes the drive wheel. The Quickie Rhythm series also offers the bonus of curb climbing capability.

What's Your Best Feature?
Electronics from Delphi, a softer ride, tight turning and easy service.

New For '06:
Delphi electronics with intuitive torque, infrared capability, multiple resident languages, assignable buttons and flash software upgrades.

Latest Trend:
Consumer-friendly electronics. As the baby boomer generation becomes more prevalent in our industry, consumers will demand more from wheelchair electronics. You will see more convenience as well as some amazing technology that will truly improve people's lives.

Reason to Buy:
If a client is looking for a smaller turning radius, faster chair, contemporary consumer power wheelchair electronics, expandability and a softer ride. Peel away layers from our electronics and it is filled with creature comforts. Our electronics will be able to incorporate multiple languages, auto scroll, infrared technology, two and four sip and puff, and many more rehab options.

Bragging Rights:
Long Warranty!

Merits Health Products
Power Chair: P313
Todd Aiazzone
Director of Marketing and New Product Development
(800) 963-7487

Merits Health Products' P313
Style, comfort, versatility — this power chair has it all! A low center of gravity, a compact, rear-wheel design, 10-inch drive wheels with alloy rims, adjustable back and flip-up armrests, a semi-reclining Captain's seat and a programmable controller make the P313 a catch.

What's Your Best Feature?
It is adaptable to three different configurations, single seat post, four-prong seat post or rehab adaptable with pan seat and tilt mechanism.

New for '06:
Rear suspension, unique design and new Captain's seat.

Reason to Buy:
Merits is a true manufacturer of power mobility products with the longest warranty (five years) in the industry.

Bragging Rights:
Meeting Changing & Demanding Client Needs!

Invacare Corp.
Power Chair: TDX Total Driving eXperience
Ben Kingery
Group Product Manager
(800) 333-6900

Invacare's TDX
Looking for a driving experience? Buckle your safety belts because in addition to its core technologies, the TDX (Total Driving eXperience) now features TCD™ Traction Control for improved reverse traction on ramps and outdoors, an adjustable rehab seat, a new quadlink retractable joystick mount and transport tie-down options.

What's Your Best Feature?
The Invacare TDX is the market-leading rehab power wheelchair. The core technologies in the TDX give the wheelchair user a total driving experience. Center-wheel drive offers the tightest turning radius possible for a power wheelchair. SureStep suspension is an automatic system that ensures everyday obstacles and thresholds are handled for a smoother transition. Stability Lock allows the chair to remain stable with the consumer in control. And TrueTrack technology helps keep the power chair on a true forward path on slopes, thresholds and uneven terrain, which is especially important for switch drivers. Also, Invacare is the only manufacturer in the HME industry that develops its own power wheelchair electronics and has a proven electronics platform that drives the chair.

New For '06:
At Medtrade 2006, Invacare introduced several new enhancements for the TDX, including new TCD™ Traction Control Design, an adjustable rehab seat, quadlink retractable joystick mount and transport tie down options. Invacare also announced that in mid-2006, it will introduce MK6i™ electronics. MK6i will take power wheelchair electronics to a whole new level by offering new programming features, new options, and advanced diagnostics built from the trusted foundation of Invacare MK Series electronics.

Latest Trend:
The Invacare® Pronto® Series and TDX Total Driving eXperience Series of power wheelchairs have lead the charge in the development of six-wheel center wheel drive power wheelchairs. The trend in the industry is to create a power wheelchair that can accept various types of seating, accommodate a large range of weight capacities, and be easily customized to meet needs of even the most involved power wheelchair users. The TDX meets this challenge.

Reason to Buy:
The Invacare TDX power wheelchair was designed to meet the needs of the most challenging and demanding clients both today and as their needs change over time. In addition to the solid technology platform and the new enhancements that make the TDX successful, Invacare recently announced two transport tie-down options available on the TDX. As there are no government standards to follow for crashworthiness of wheelchairs, Invacare does not recommend that wheelchair users be transported in vehicles of any kind while in wheelchairs. Still, in the interests of safety and in the hopes that the government will adopt crash worthiness standards in the future, Invacare is committed to testing its power wheelchairs to ANSI/RESNA WC Vol. 1 Section 19 (WC 19) standards.

Bragging Rights:

Trac About
Power Chair: IRV 2000
Lloyd Wolf
Vice President of Operations
(800) 458-8616

Trac About's IRV 2000
True to the company's name, the IRV 2000 features a patented track positioning system that makes it the ultimate in all-terrain power. The 27-inch power chair goes where the user wants to go with a zero turning radius, a low center of gravity and a seating system equipped with tilt, recline and elevation.

What's Your Best Feature?
Look at the photo. It will go where you want to go.

New For '06:
12- amp controller, air suspension seating.

Latest Trend:
People want to get more places than in the house, so all-terrain is where it's at. What is disturbing is that some claim to be all-terrain, but they really aren't.

Reason to Buy:
Because the IRV 2000 is the safest, most practical and most versatile chair on the market.

Bragging Rights:

Pride Mobility
Power Chair: Quantum 6000
Scott Higley
Vice President Quantum Sales
(866) 800-2002

Quantum Rehab's Quantum 6000
A chair fit for the race track, the Quantum 6000 incorporates aggressive power with four-pole Hammer motors for greater torque and a Mid-Wheel™ 6 design for increased performance and maneuverability. The power chair also accommodates a variety of seating systems.

What's Your Best Feature?
The entire Q6 line: What we really tried to achieve with these products and what we heard from provider feedback is a very good marriage of the geometry of suspension and that our six-wheel chairs are different from any other six-wheel chairs on the market. We are what you call Mid-Wheel 6, meaning that the turning point is not directly in line; it doesn't turn 100 percent on a central axis, it is just slightly a few inches forward. That allows the chair to react very much like a person who is ambulatory would react when they go to turn. The mid-wheel 6 is also positioning the rider's weight so that the impact is more diagonal than directly up to the client and helping to reduce fatigue. We added a spring suspension in the front caster. By putting the spring there, you absorb a lot of the shock. Also different on chair is what a lot of people think are hubcaps on the front and rear casters, but those are actually OMNI-casters, or omni-directional. But if they muscle their way through it, they can bend the casters. With this design, the OMNI-casters, spin the caster back in alignment so it can go in a forward direction or reverse, which eliminates the possibility for a caster failure. Style without the functionality is worthless. We have been designing products to make a difference to the providers and the end-users in terms of dependability and ease of use. We don't even consider quality and dependability as part of it because they both have to be there no matter what. It is not something that we say,"Oh, we can sacrifice this or that on a chair." It has to be 100 percent as durable as we can make it with the technology that is out there. Where we have increased our ability is the marriage of these items together: the frame, the types of motors we use, with the appropriate electronics.

New for '06:
Right now we are introducing more into the light rehab space with our in-line motor on our Select Series. Later this year, we will introduce a new chair with this motor. The in-line motor has the advantage of a single-stage motor vs. a dual stage, that is only one gear to drive so you don't lose energy converting it to a two-stage gear. The motor increases range, efficiency and durability. was excellent on this. We will continue to expand the Q6 line and work toward making chairs that fit some of the more difficult funding situations.

Reason to Buy:
Dependability. In the past, people expected chairs with all of these problems. We bring in testing technologies before we even go into manufacturing. As funding gets tighter, providers are depending more on manufacturers to make products that are trouble free. There is not a huge margin where providers can have techs running out to fix a chair. Another reason is design or ease of serviceability of a product. What we do is reduce opportunities for failure: I always like to use the example of two pens. You have a very nice complex pen with a cool twist thing and a cheap pen, most people would say, "they are the same thing it either writes or it doesn't," but the complex pen has many more opportunities of failure, the simpler pen either the cap stays on or it doesn't and it writes or doesn't write. When we are designing a chair and we are adding things we have to ask ourselves, does this serve a purpose or are we putting extra steps or making things more complicated where there could be an opportunity for failure. If I can go from 30 different wire connections to half that, I have improved dependability. We are designing with quick-release control modules, which is an easy single-person job. In the past, the tech needed another person to assist and the client would have to get transferred out of the chair so that the whole seating system had to come off, that is not acceptable anymore in design.

Bragging Rights:

Balder USA
Power Chairs: Balder Line
Nancy Donnelly
Vice President of Operations
(888) 422-5337

Balder USA's F-290
Elevate mind and body with the Balder F-290 stand up functioning power wheelchair. An "empty center" chassis design allows a total range of functions with 15_ to 33 inches of floor to seat height and reclining, tilt in space and elevating powered footrests. The best part: The F-290 drives in standing mode.

What's Your Best Feature?
The Balder allows for extreme functionability that goes higher and lower than any other power chair on the market today. Crash-tested, safe for transport or to drive from the Balder power chair.

New For '06?
A new product is the Balder F-290 Junior Standing chair and a new Dynamics control system.

Latest Trend:
Powerful electronic controllers that will allow tomorrow's chair to exercise control of the user's ecosystem, thereby increasing his or her access to mainstream society.

Reason to Buy:
One word: Service. Balder USA is committed to providing the best service in the industry to the end-user. The Balder power chair is unique in its extreme all around function ability range; giving the end-user access to places that other power chairs simply cannot reach.

Bragging Rights:
Michael Graves Design!

Product: Cirrus Plus
Mike Serhan
Executive Vice President of Sales
(877) 224-0946

Drive Medical's Cirrus Plus
Everything about the Cirrus Plus screams portability, fold-ability. The two features go hand in hand as the lightweight power chair neatly folds down for easy transport. The battery tray also folds and the entire chair and arms adjust in height, width and/or angle.

What's Your Best Feature?
The Drive selection of power chairs are both user and dealer friendly. Each chair has been thoughtfully designed, making assembly, us, and repairs easy and convenient. Wireless connecters, automatic footplates, intuitive ergonomic controls and seating are a few examples of what sets Drive's power products apart from the competition.

New For '06
Drive has 29 new versions of power chairs that will be introduced in 2006. Mini power products that are convenient for active users as well as heavy-duty bariatric chairs in 2006 will be Drive's splash into higher-end rehab with the introduction of our new Denali AXS with intelatrac mid-drive technology.

Latest Trend:
The latest trend is to satisfy the needs of the "graying Americans." With the infusion of modern ideas from the Michael Graves Design team, Drive is focusing on capturing this emerging sophisticated and savvy consumer.

Reason to Buy:
Drive offers the whole package to our customer with value added.

Bragging Rights:
Made in the USA

Leisure Lift
Product: 2006 Scout RF-P4
DuWayne Kramer
(800) 862-8782

Leisure-Lift's Scout RF-P4
Comfort gets an upgrade with a 6-inch-thick coil-spring reclining Admiral seat sure to treat any rider like royalty. Grab a hold of your scepter because this chair comes packed with power with a four-pole matched high torque motor and the ability to climb 9-degree ramps and a 120-yard hill.

What's Your Best Feature?
Leisure-Lift's products are American made with quality U.S. parts, engineering and service that is over here, not over there. Reliable products that last, quick knowledgeable service with parts that are available for decades after the product is sold keeps your customer running for years.

Latest Trend:
Race to the bottom. We continue to see more badly designed, poor quality, unsafe, unreliable products coming to market.

Reason to Buy:
Our chairs are cheaper in the long run. A dealer can spend their time constantly fixing problems and getting a bad reputation by buying the cheapest product possible or spend a little more and get a chair built to medical standard that cost him less in the long run.

This article originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of HME Business.

HME Business Podcast