Wheelchair breakdown

Carl Thompson
It is frightening when your electric wheelchair stops working. It would stop me from doing the things I love. Last week my wheelchair was not turning on. There was a problem with the battery. I was worried I would get stuck. It reminded me of being back at school. There was one day when I used up the chair's battery. I had to travel home by myself. The chair kept stopping. I got very worried. It even stopped in the middle of a road. I was lucky to finally get home.
Posted by: 
Carl Thompson on 27/05/2011
A close up image of a joystick controller and buttons from an electric wheelchair
Electric wheelchair controller

My electric wheelchair wasn't turning on

When your electric wheelchair stops working there is not much you can do. It is extremely frightening to get stuck somewhere.

A breakdown would also stop me from doing the things I love. I wouldn't be able to leave the house independently. It would be impossible for me to even get to my computer! All I would be able to do is sit on my couch and watch daytime television! When your electric wheelchair breaks down, your life breaks down.

University interruptions

Last week my wheelchair wasn't turning on. I had a full day at university planned. I tried turning my chair off then on again. Nothing happened. I waited five minutes and tried again. No luck. My dad wiggled my chair's cords and it worked again. Or so I thought...

After driving to university I tried turning my wheelchair on. It didn't work. I was already running late for my lecture. After some more cord wiggling my wheelchair worked again. But it kept stopping throughout the day.

The problem was solved when I returned home. My wheelchair battery had a loose connection. But that day was very frustrating for me. And I was worried. What if my wheelchair had a big problem and needed to be serviced? What would I do if it was out of action for days or even weeks?

A day at school

The incident reminded me of a day at school when I was very active. I raced around in my wheelchair during lunchtime. I used up lots of the battery's charge. Unfortunately I had to travel home in my chair. It was a time when nobody my age had a mobile phone.

My chair was going slower than normal when I left for home. When I reached the hill, things got even worse. My chair slowed down to a snail's pace. I started to panic. I always headed home through a quiet park where there was never anyone around. I couldn't yell out for help or ring my parents.

The battery indicator on my wheelchair started flashing. My wheelchair then stopped completely. I didn't know what to do. I turned my chair off and on again. Luckily, some battery came back and the chair started moving again. Twenty metres later it stopped again. I was young and afraid. But the worst was yet to come.

Reached the road

I reached the road near my house. My wheelchair could now only manage travelling five metres before it stopped. It was a quiet road. But when my wheelchair stopped dead in the centre of the road near a blind spot I was allowed to be worried! I frantically turned my chair off and on. Luckily it worked, and my wheelchair crawled a few metres closer to the gutter. I was still on the road when it stopped for a second time. I panicked as I turned my wheelchair off and on. At a snail's pace I finally crossed the road!

Five minutes later I finally arrived home. My parents wanted to know why I was late. I think I had a pretty good excuse...



Readers comments (2)

i wear a prosthetic leg after reading your article i am glad i don't have to worry the battery going flat. But i do have to worry about my leg getting sore, and leaving me out of action. it is really frustrating.

Hi Carl and others who have experienced "range anxiety" when using their powered mobility device. You may be interested in finding out more about the Recharge Scheme. A wide variety of organisations within local communities are offering use of their powerpoints to allow a top up charge when needed. More information and a Recharge Finder is available at the website below.


(info from the RECHARGE Scheme™ website.)

This site has been developed to support people who use an electric scooter or wheelchair to find one of the many RECHARGE Point™ locations across Victoria and to assist you with planning your trip accordingly.

The RECHARGE Scheme™ began in the Shire of Nillumbik in 2006. The Scheme is supported by around 1000 businesses and organisations (Program Partners). At this time, the majority of Victoria's 79 Councils are presently implementing the Scheme, working in collaboration with Nillumbik's MetroAccess and Inclusion Unit to offer the service across Victoria.

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