Types of Proportional Control Methods for Electric Wheelchairs

For people with limited mobility, a wheelchair is an essential component of daily living. This helps them remain mobile and independent to some extent. There is a broad range of wheelchairs on the market. Electric wheelchairs nevertheless remain the popular option due to their ease of use, convenience, and variety of customisation options.

You will consider several aspects when investing in a disabled electric wheelchair. One of these is its type of control. Proportional controls are more common compared to non-proportional ones. They allow users to have significant control over their wheelchair’s movement using applied pressure or force. The following are the prevalent electric wheelchair proportional controls:


Most wheelchairs have a conventional joystick. This comprises a gimbal knob with a switch, battery gauge, and speed control. The gimbal is pushed in the direction of the desired movement. A joystick is the easiest to use for those with good hand control and strength.

Finger Control System

This has a small square box with a 2’’ hole placed within a user’s comfortable reach. The user places a finger through the hole and moves the wheelchair in his or her desired direction. Some finger control systems are configured to move in specific directions when a particular section of the system is touched.

Head Control System

This works like joysticks but unlike the latter has a gimbal attached to the wheelchair’s headrest. This is moved using right and left turns of the head into a right or left direction after activation using a switch. People with limited hand motions generally use head control systems. Compact joysticks are controlled by the chin and can be used as alternatives to head control systems.

These control options are further classified based on their required force for movement. Wheelchairs with low readings require minimal force to operate and vice versa. Regardless of a wheelchair user’s limitations, there is currently a solution to cater to him or her.