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Thread: Thinking about getting a Permobil and have many thoughts, concerns & questions.

  1. #1

    Thinking about getting a Permobil and have many thoughts, concerns & questions.

    I'm a C5 quad, 23 years post injury. For the past 10+ years, I've been using a Quantum Q6000Z mid-wheel drive power wheelchair with power tilt and recline and may soon have the opportunity to get a new chair and am considering Permobil.

    One HUGE question is: mid-wheel (M5) or front wheel (F5) drive? I've never had a front-wheel-drive wheelchair before and I don't want to sacrifice much maneuverability which is obviously high on the "must-have" list.

    My current wheelchair sucks for going off road, but it seems whatever style wheelchair you have if you also have an EZ Lock tie down bolt, once you sink down in the grass, it's like plowing a field. That's high on the undesirable list, but I'm told that the Permobil locking system dock is huge and undesirable compared to EZ lock.

    Here are the pros of my current, mid-wheel drive, chair:
    1. I am extremely happy with its maneuverability.
    2. The 8 mph motors are great for keeping up with the family and walking the dogs. I understand Permobil now offers 7.5 mph motors, so that's pretty much a non-issue.
    3. The floor to seat height is just low enough to get underneath tables in most restaurants. (I use a ROHO Deep Contour cushion.)
    4. It's been fairly reliable.
    5. I don't know the proper term for them, but I have rectangularly shaped tie-down brackets on each corner of my seat which is convenient when using public transportation.

    I find the following to be acceptable, but I'm not exactly thrilled with:
    1. The power tilt feature does a great job relieving pressure, however, it is much SLOWER than I prefer. (Why WC manufacturers don't use variable speed tilt actuators is beyond me.)
    2. The power recline is "OK" as long as I don't elevate the leg rests (more information below)

    Here are the major cons of my current chair:
    1. The leg rests, which are power elevating and articulating, SUCK big time. I must have short legs between the knees and feet because my feet barely sit flat on the foot plates when adjusted all the way up. If I try to raise the power leg rests, my feet slide off the foot plates and when I lower the leg rests, my feet don't sit right on the foot plates. Neither the vendor or OT have found a fix for this which makes the leg rests useless to me. Non-articulating leg rests would be great. On my first wheelchair, I had a LaBac seating system with power recline and my feet made solid contact with the foot plates as the leg rests elevated which felt great. That was the only wheelchair I have ever owned that did that.
    2. There's a lot of "stuff" on the back of my chair which I would like to eliminate whereas Permobil looks cleaner, without the recline actuator and horizontal bar on the back. This is not only an aesthetics factor but would be a huge advantage if I can have push handles (or something similar) back there that I could hook with my arm around when driving over rough terrain or on a decline so I would not have to use a chest strap.

    Things I would like in a new chair:
    1. A seat elevator. I used to think "less is better", to keep things simple, and have one less point of failure, however, it would be nice to sit at a bar with my wife at a restaurant.
    2. Better suspension.
    3. Group 24 batteries
    4. The lowest seat to floor position as possible.
    5. Better backrest options which offer trunk support and is also low enough and not too wide so it doesn't limit movement in my shoulders.
    6. Quick and silent tilt/recline actuators.
    7. A high level of adjustability on the seating system.
    8. Something on the back (such as push handles) that I can hook my arms around to stretch or steady myself.

    Things I would not like in the new chair:
    1. I chair that gets squirrely at high speeds or have castor flutter (something I've heard people talk about with front-wheel-drive chairs)

    Specific questions I have about Permobil:
    1. Is the head rest easily removable? I don't always need one and the brackets which hold it appears to be massive
    2. How is the speed of tilt and recline actuators compared to other chairs?
    3. Are the motors which perform till, recline, and elevator functions relatively quiet?
    4. On F5 chairs, in order to have the 7.5 mph motors, you also need anti-tip wheels. Does the wheelchair actually lean forward when braking or going downhill?
    5. How customizable are the backrests?
    6. Do their chairs actually have the option to tilt forward some? That sounds cool because I hate not being able to sit at 90? and was wondering if that could help compensate.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. Any thoughts? Are there any YouTube videos demonstrating tips or techniques for FWD chairs? Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by doingtimeonmyass View Post
    I'm a C5 quad, 23 years post injury. For the past 10+ years, I've been using a Quantum Q6000Z mid-wheel drive power wheelchair with power tilt and recline and may soon have the opportunity to get a new chair and am considering Permobil.

    One HUGE question is: mid-wheel (M5) or front wheel (F5) drive? I've never had a front-wheel-drive wheelchair before and I don't want to sacrifice much maneuverability which is obviously high on the "must-have" list.
    You will find vehement opinions on mid wheel vs front wheel drives when you read through the threads below.

    My current wheelchair sucks for going off road, but it seems whatever style wheelchair you have if you also have an EZ Lock tie down bolt, once you sink down in the grass, it's like plowing a field. That's high on the undesirable list, but I'm told that the Permobil locking system dock is huge and undesirable compared to EZ lock.
    My van conversion dealer/repair shop fitted my m300 (purchased in Dec. 2016) with an EZ Lock pin and I was able to use my existing EZ Lock tie down dock (with a few minor adjustments) in my van.

    Here are the pros of my current, mid-wheel drive, chair:
    1. I am extremely happy with its maneuverability.
    2. The 8 mph motors are great for keeping up with the family and walking the dogs. I understand Permobil now offers 7.5 mph motors, so that's pretty much a non-issue.
    3. The floor to seat height is just low enough to get underneath tables in most restaurants. (I use a ROHO Deep Contour cushion.)
    You may have some difficulty with seat height and your cushion, especially if you get seat elevator. As I recall, seat elevator adds one inch to the standard seat to floor measurement. There is quite a bit of discussion about seat height and adjustment or lack of adjustment in the threads below.
    4. It's been fairly reliable.
    5. I don't know the proper term for them, but I have rectangularly shaped tie-down brackets on each corner of my seat which is convenient when using public transportation.
    I pretty sure that 4 point manual tie down brackets are standard (and required) on Permobil chairs.

    I find the following to be acceptable, but I'm not exactly thrilled with:
    1. The power tilt feature does a great job relieving pressure, however, it is much SLOWER than I prefer. (Why WC manufacturers don't use variable speed tilt actuators is beyond me.)
    I don't think Permobil offers variable speed tilt. My M300 is slow, but so was the tilt on my Invacare TDX-SP chairs.
    2. The power recline is "OK" as long as I don't elevate the leg rests (more information below)

    Here are the major cons of my current chair:
    1. The leg rests, which are power elevating and articulating, SUCK big time. I must have short legs between the knees and feet because my feet barely sit flat on the foot plates when adjusted all the way up. If I try to raise the power leg rests, my feet slide off the foot plates and when I lower the leg rests, my feet don't sit right on the foot plates. Neither the vendor or OT have found a fix for this which makes the leg rests useless to me. Non-articulating leg rests would be great. On my first wheelchair, I had a LaBac seating system with power recline and my feet made solid contact with the foot plates as the leg rests elevated which felt great. That was the only wheelchair I have ever owned that did that.
    2. There's a lot of "stuff" on the back of my chair which I would like to eliminate whereas Permobil looks cleaner, without the recline actuator and horizontal bar on the back. This is not only an aesthetics factor but would be a huge advantage if I can have push handles (or something similar) back there that I could hook with my arm around when driving over rough terrain or on a decline so I would not have to use a chest strap.
    Permobil chairs do not come standard with push handles, they are an option. When I looked into them on my M300, they mounted differently than the ones on my TDX-SP, which were spaced and mounted directly behind each shoulder. The Permobil push handles mounted closer together and not behind my shoulders. They would not have been useful for hooking an arm around.

    Things I would like in a new chair:
    1. A seat elevator. I used to think "less is better", to keep things simple, and have one less point of failure, however, it would be nice to sit at a bar with my wife at a restaurant.
    I like the seat elevator feature, but sometimes you have to think about and remember to use it. When I first got my Permobil with elevation feature, I asked NL to get a book off of a shelf for me. She turned around and said, "I think you can get it yourself." That startled me, but then (light bulb), I remembered the elevation feature.
    2. Better suspension.
    The new m3 and f3/f5 have much better suspension and ride than the m300 and f300/500 series
    3. Group 24 batteries
    Yes, standard..look into the "flat top" model Group 24 batteries.
    4. The lowest seat to floor position as possible.
    Tricky. Lots of discussion on threads below.
    5. Better backrest options which offer trunk support and is also low enough and not too wide so it doesn't limit movement in my shoulders.
    I went with a Roho (Roho is owned by Permobil) mid contour back. Really like it a lot.
    6. Quick and silent tilt/recline actuators.
    Not exactly quick or silent.
    7. A high level of adjustability on the seating system.
    My m300 has a fair amount of seat adjustments, with the exception of height.
    8. Something on the back (such as push handles) that I can hook my arms around to stretch or steady myself.

    Things I would not like in the new chair:
    1. I chair that gets squirrely at high speeds or have castor flutter (something I've heard people talk about with front-wheel-drive chairs)
    Once again, there are vehement opinions on both sides about mid and front wheel drive chairs. You can read more on the threads below.

    Specific questions I have about Permobil:
    1. Is the head rest easily removable? I don't always need one and the brackets which hold it appears to be massive
    The Permobil Link headrest hardware system is easy and elegant. https://permobilus.com/product/permobil-headrest/
    2. How is the speed of tilt and recline actuators compared to other chairs?
    3. Are the motors which perform till, recline, and elevator functions relatively quiet?
    4. On F5 chairs, in order to have the 7.5 mph motors, you also need anti-tip wheels. Does the wheelchair actually lean forward when braking or going downhill?
    5. How customizable are the backrests?
    There are several options to choose from.
    6. Do their chairs actually have the option to tilt forward some? That sounds cool because I hate not being able to sit at 90? and was wondering if that could help compensate.
    I think this optional feature is called Active Reach and it allows up to 20? of forward tilt.
    That's all I can think of at the moment. Any thoughts? Are there any YouTube videos demonstrating tips or techniques for FWD chairs? Thank you in advance!
    See my comments within you quote, highlighted in blue.

    Here are some helpful threads. Some are newer, some older, but the pros and cons about front and mid wheel drives are thoroughly discussed:

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...light=Permobil
    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...light=Permobil
    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...light=Permobil
    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...light=Permobil
    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...light=Permobil
    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...light=Permobil
    Last edited by gjnl; 08-15-2017 at 01:38 PM.

  3. #3
    I don't think Permobil is even offering a vehicle docking system anymore and if it is, I never hear of it being used at my adaptive mobility dealer. It's either EZLock or qstraint.

    I just got my F3 three weeks ago and the lowest seat to floor height I have is about 17.75-18. It is not 17.5 as advertised. If you get an elevator you may even have to go up to 18.5. If you drive, then this can be an issue depending upon how tall you are and how your current visibility is.

    I got the Invacare matrix elite deep back. Midline support, scapular cutouts and wraparound lateral supports. You can get two other aftermarket backs for the Permobil. There was a group of us that contributed a lot of information on this topic on one of the other threads and I would recommend reading that through from the beginning.

    I was unhappy that they don't offer 1 inch increments for seat width. I've always been a 17 but now went up to an 18, which they don't have, so I went up to 19. It isn't a big deal, but one must use laterals to keep the hips on the chair.

    Memory seat program (MSP) can be convenient. With a single joystick movement you can do tilt-leg rest elevation-recline all-in-one function for pressure relief without having to go through individual motions. MSP offers three settings. I thought the other two would be convenient, but I have no real need for them and they just add clutter to the menu options that you have to cycle through. I heard we can remove them from the roster on the screen.

    The F3 motors are very "whippy", meaning they are very jerky to touch compared to my old C 300. One has to be careful inside.

    Be very careful and specific when requesting demo chairs for trial. If you want to get an aftermarket back, be sure to research which ones you want and have it set up on the demo chair so you don't have to do another appointment with the clinic, which around here takes a long time to get. A lot of HME shops don't discourage, but don't exactly encourage trying aftermarket backs for trial. It's more work for them and they have to get the special brackets or wait for a different loaner chair that has aftermarket capability.

    Gel armrests are nice.

    Unfortunately, there are not too many options for us. Basically two big-name manufacturers. The others offer niche chairs and/or don't have extensive support systems. Plus, Medicare/Medicaid and probably other insurance companies won't even pay for them.

  4. #4
    Thank you, gjnl and crags. I have some reading to do before my appointment at the end of next month. I don't know what my therapist will say but that ROHO back looks interesting! Unfortunately, I can't drive and I don't want laterals if I can avoid them. Thanks again!

    Edited to add:
    gjnl and crags. If it isn't too much trouble, could you please post or PM me a picture of your chair? I'd like to get a visual of what some of these backs look like on the power bases. Thanks.
    Last edited by doingtimeonmyass; 08-15-2017 at 05:03 PM.

  5. #5

    Check that you can turn off Drunken Sailor mode

    Pride Mobility has control defects that can not be corrected!
    http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/powe...rogramming.htm

    Yamaha has Drunken Sailor mode off by default.

  6. #6
    I have a Permoboil m300. I like it. It has all sorts of features. It can do a tilt/recline, the seatback goes back and the leg rests go up plus mine has the elevate feature.

    Everything on it is fully adjustable including the electronics so you don't have to be so touchy when you get to top speed. It tops out at 6 miles per hour which rocks. I've even checked it on my phone with a speedometer program. The one thing I don't like about the elevate feature is it adds 2 inches to the rear seat height,, otherwise, I like the chair.
    C-5/6, 7-9-2000
    Scottsdale, AZ

    Make the best out of today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. Nobody knows that better than those of us that have almost died from spinal cord injury.

  7. #7
    Thanks, everyone! After reading through all the information in those threads and other websites, my next wheelchair will either be the Permobil F5 or M5. While I do like the maneuverability of a mid-wheel drive chair, I'm hoping I can fall in love with a FWD for a smoother ride.

    How are you peeps hanging your backpacks on your chairs?

    I'd also love to see pictures of aftermarket backs on similar Permobil power bases. I contacted Roho and they were unable to send me anything. I tried emailing Permobil and haven't received a reply yet.

    And no matter how I look at it, or how well a driver I am, with a front-wheel-drive wheelchair, I'm going to have an extra 7 inches of wheelchair

    Here I am in my favorite Asian market and I'm wondering if doing a 180 would be problematic with the Permobil F5.

    Attached Images Attached Images  

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by doingtimeonmyass View Post
    Thanks, everyone! After reading through all the information in those threads and other websites, my next wheelchair will either be the Permobil F5 or M5. While I do like the maneuverability of a mid-wheel drive chair, I'm hoping I can fall in love with a FWD for a smoother ride.

    How are you peeps hanging your backpacks on your chairs?

    I'd also love to see pictures of aftermarket backs on similar Permobil power bases. I contacted Roho and they were unable to send me anything. I tried emailing Permobil and haven't received a reply yet.

    And no matter how I look at it, or how well a driver I am, with a front-wheel-drive wheelchair, I'm going to have an extra 7 inches of wheelchair

    Here I am in my favorite Asian market and I'm wondering if doing a 180 would be problematic with the Permobil F5.

    Maybe you need to direct these questions to Tom Borcherding, a Vice President of Permobil/Roho at: http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/member....om-Borcherding

    He has always been very straight forward and helpful to members of Care Cure Community who contact him.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by doingtimeonmyass View Post
    Thanks, everyone! After reading through all the information in those threads and other websites, my next wheelchair will either be the Permobil F5 or M5. While I do like the maneuverability of a mid-wheel drive chair, I'm hoping I can fall in love with a FWD for a smoother ride.

    How are you peeps hanging your backpacks on your chairs?

    I'd also love to see pictures of aftermarket backs on similar Permobil power bases. I contacted Roho and they were unable to send me anything. I tried emailing Permobil and haven't received a reply yet.

    And no matter how I look at it, or how well a driver I am, with a front-wheel-drive wheelchair, I'm going to have an extra 7 inches of wheelchair

    Here I am in my favorite Asian market and I'm wondering if doing a 180 would be problematic with the Permobil F5.

    I ordered the optional bag hooks, but in all honesty, I don't think they are the best design, because there is not a good way to hang a backpack from them IMO.

  10. #10
    I have a Free Form backrest. There no end to the changes you can make. Went on my F3 easy. Google it. After 200 miles I finally found a nice spot to open it up and after a few hundred yds. it got caster wobble. Never need to go that fast again.

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