Close this search box.

Proportional Vs Non-Proportional Powered Wheelchair Drive Controls

In most seminars organized for knowing about power wheelchair drive controls, the common questions asked are always:

1. When is a drive control proportional?

2. What kind of drive control will give my client the most control for precision driving?

3. What do you recommend I do if my client has the cognitive skills needed to use a proportional device but does not have the motor skills or vice versa?

4. Do you have general knowledge on powered wheelchair either proportional or non-proportional?

Then you would know that there is no easy way and there are different ways to answer any of these questions.

Have you ever tried comparing an automatic transmission car and a manual one you will be surprised at how similar learning to drive both cars is.

With the process of choosing the right power mobility device and the drive controls.

With the aid of the question above, we are going to discuss various technologies available for power wheelchair drive controls.

In addition, we will also be looking at types of drive controls and checkout each potential.

Every drive control option has its own unique features and each client have different needs and ability.

Due to this, to answer the above questions and make recommendations, we should know the differences in each system.

So now let us by address the first question by defining both proportional and non-proportional drive.


The Proportional Drive Controls

Proportional drive commonly known analog drive control, provides speed control and a full 360° circle directional control.

This drive control works likes the gas pedal in a car, the more the input device is moved from its normal position, the faster the movement of the wheelchair.

Using the proportional drive control system gives the user more control in different environments.

This drive control allows the user to swiftly increase or decrease the wheelchair speed and also provide specific direction control for improved and better mobility.

In order to use this proportional drive control system, the user must have prior cognitive skills and good motor function for this specific drive control.

Another thing to note is that the user should also have basic knowledge on the amount of force that should be applied to the input device.

 powered wheelchair

The Non-Proportional Drive Controls

The non-proportional or commonly called digital drive control system is like the typical light switch.

It operates with a on or off system so typically, systems like this utilize four separate switches (one to control each direction: forward, reverse, left, and right).

Although, there are different ways to operate a power wheelchair with just three switches or even one.

Driving a non-proportional drive system is very simple but it does not allow the user have much control like the proportional drive system.

The wheelchair only move at a set speed for whichever switch is activated.

A non-proportional system is very advisable for client lacking either the cognitive ability or motor control.

It is also perfect for teaching users how to operate a power wheelchair because of the "on" and "off" concept that is easy to learn.

That is the basic information for understanding drive controls, interestingly joystick is the oldest type of proportional drive control systems available.

While switches were the only available type of non-proportional options but new designs have been introduced.


Partner with us for premium powered wheelchair.

To get your new and improved powered wheelchair either proportional or non-proportional, you should always consider partnering with a professional manufacturer of powered wheelchair.

You can as well click here to contact us for more information, enquiries or to make a purchase.

Table of Contents

Post Category
Request A Free Quote
* We respect your privacy. When you submit your contact information, we agree to only contact you in accordance with our Privacy Policy.