Battery Considerations in Mobility Aids

Thanks to the prevalence of electronic devices, battery technology has seen rapid advancement. We commonly think of the new electric cars, our robot vacuums or maybe our new cell phone that can hold a charge for days, even while streaming UHD video. Although for about 1% of the global population, these battery advancements have a unique benefit to mobility aids.

These 1% of our global community have disabilities that require them to use a wheelchair as mobility aids. These are often battery powered and have benefited greatly from the advancement in battery technology. Very similar to automotive batteries, these devices commonly used lead acid batteries. This technology was the foundation on which the motorized mobility aids industry was built. Lead Acid batteries are inexpensive to produce and are relatively light weight and long lasting. They contain a mixture of water and electrolyte. Aside from needing periodic maintenance, the danger of this battery is that it can spill if tipped over and even rupture if improperly charged. They also are prohibited for air travel because of these risks.

Another type of battery is known as a Gel Cell battery. These batteries do not need maintenance and cannot spill if the wheelchair were to tip over. They are more expensive to produce and typically weigh more than lead acid batteries. Although they’re expected service life is not as long, they are approved for air travel.

The most recent development in battery powered mobility aids is the AGM Battery. AGM stands for absorbed glass mat and it uses a different technology. These work by sandwiching acid soaked glass mats between plates. This provides a distinct advantage when combating the bumps and vibrations of a motorized wheelchair. This technology is the most expensive option widely available and represent a new level of durability.

The mobility industry continues to advance and benefit from new battery technologies, providing new capabilities for the 1% of our population that require a wheelchair for daily life.