I’ve been using power-assist wheels on my manual wheelchair for about four years now, and as a C5-6 quad, I’ve found they make all the difference in my strength and flexibility. Prior to the power-assist wheels, I used a power wheelchair, which was nice, but didn’t afford the regular exercise one gets from pushing. I also get a rush from cruising down moderately steep hills unimpeded by the transmission of a power chair. I should note that freewheeling down steep hills comes with a “don’t try this at home” caveat, as I have flipped myself out of my chair twice.
When originally looking for power-assist wheels, I only had two options — E.motion from Frank Mobility or the Quickie eXtender (iGlide was already closing up shop). I chose the E.motion wheels because I could bolt them onto a TiLite frame, so for the last four years I’ve been pushing around on E.motion M12s. After going through about six sets of batteries at $800 a pair, I was getting pretty frustrated and was considering the Quickie option. Then I found out the new E.motion M15s were coming out, promising new features and extended battery life.
Battery life was the crux of my problem with the M12s. I could get through only about half a workday before I needed to switch batteries (difficult without hand function), and batteries would go bad just after the six-month warranty was up. I found myself making plans around how much battery power I had between the set in my wheels and the extra set I carried. Zoo trips were out, and my wife was always pushing me in order to conserve power — obviously not the freedom I was looking for.
I’ve had my demo set of M15s for about a month now, and the improvements are staggering. The literature claims the new lithium-ion batteries have twice the power of the old nickel-metal hydride batteries, but I found them to have something more like four times the range. This is goo