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State Spinal Cord Injury Service

Spinal Seating Modules

Types of powered mobility

Power mobility devices may be considered under the following classes:

  • Scooters
  • ‘Power add-on’ or ‘propulsion-assist’ units
  • Folding PWCs
  • Power base PWCs

Scooters are three or four wheeled mobility system steered with a tiller. These are rarely used by clients with SCI and typically have no scope for variation in components to address the four clinical objectives of seating. They are not covered in this module. For more information regarding the prescription of scooters as mobility devices please refer to the ‘Enable NSW prescription and provision guidelines for mobility scooters’.1

Power Add-on / Propulsion-Assist Units are detachable or semi-detachable units for adding power wheelchair to a manual wheelchair. As this class of powered wheelchair relies upon a manual wheelchair for seating it is covered in depth in Module 9.

Folding power wheelchairs, intended for transport when folded, have a folding frame and batteries that may be detached for transport. There are no power seating options, very limited seating adjustment, and there may be very limited programming capability of the wheelchair controller. Folding PWC are not covered in this module as this class of chair has largely been superseded. Examples of folding PWC include: 'Invacare 9000', 'Glide 4'.

Power wheelchairs (PWC) consist of a power drive base unit with a seating system mounted on the base. In general there is a wide range of options for customisation in seating and drive performance. The control device may be interfaced with other access devices such as computers and environmental control units. Simple power wheelchairs are also available with basic seating systems if sufficient for client needs.


  1. Enable NSW. Prescription and provision guidelines [Internet]. Health Support Services: Enable NSW; 2011 [cited Oct 2015]. Available from: