Sentra EC is one of the best heavy-duty wheelchairs on the market today.
Recommended For: Anyone weighing up to 700 pounds. If a standard-sized wheelchair isn’t big or robust enough for you, this is the one you want.
*Note regarding Brand Reliability: This metric is a measure of the strength and longevity of the brand, which by extension, is a measure of the level of support you can expect.
Are you a heavier individual? Do you have some type of mobility issue that requires you to use a wheelchair for at least part of each day? If so, then you know what a challenge it can be to find a good wheelchair that’s rugged and robust enough to provide proper support, while simultaneously light enough to take it with you so you can enjoy traveling.
If your search has left you frustrated to this point and you either haven’t found the ‘right’ chair yet or you’re looking to upgrade the one you’ve got, then you’re going to like what you read in this Drive Sentra EC review.
Make no mistake; this is very much a niche product. Most people aren’t going to need a wheelchair this large. Unfortunately, most of the wheelchairs on the market today support in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. If you weigh more than that, the number of options you have open to you drops off dramatically.
At the end of the day then, you either need a chair like this, or you’re not going to care or be impressed by it. If you fall into that latter category, you’ll find this to be an amazing chair.
In the sections that follow, we’ll step you through everything this chair has to offer so you can decide for yourself if this is the model you’ve been looking for. If that sounds good to you, read on, and let’s take a closer look.
An Overview of the Drive Medical Sentra EC Extra Wide Wheelchair
Sentra’s design team didn’t take any chances where the look of this chair is concerned. It’s purely conventional, just…super-sized. That’s not a bad thing. Most people who need a wheelchair are much more concerned with function over form. Still, if you’re looking for something racy, this isn’t the model you want.
Before we say more in this section of our Drive Sentra EC review, let’s take a quick look first at the core stats that define the model. Here they are:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 39″ (W) x 43″ (D) x 35″ (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 30″ (W) x 20″ (D) (26,” 28” and 30” options are also available)
- Chair Weight: 62 pounds (26” W seat), 64 pounds (28” W seat), 66 pounds (30” W seat)
- Maximum Supported Weight: 700 pounds
As you can see, it’s a big, robust chair. One of the problems you’ll note right off the bat is the fact that it’s too wide to fit through a standard-sized doorframe, though its collapsed width is a much more manageable 15.”
This is a common problem for chairs of this type, and unfortunately, it’s an unavoidable one. If you don’t need the 30” wide seat, you can get one of the smaller variants. They support the same amount of weight and will fit through a standard-width door.
It’s just not possible to make a wheelchair that can support bigger, heavier folks without running into construction limitations, so maneuvering around in this chair can be a challenge depending on where and how you plan to use it.
The chair is also significantly heavier than an average wheelchair. This, too, is unavoidable. It’s just not possible to make a chair capable of supporting a lot of weight that doesn’t weigh a lot. Given that, if you need a chair like this, we’re going to make the assumption that you’ve already made peace with the fact that the chair you ultimately buy will be heavier than average. There’s just no way around it.
As to the amount of weight this chair supports, that speaks for itself. Few other models on the market can match it, and that’s awesome for those who need it.
Adjustability and Comfort
There’s not much that’s adjustable on the Drive Medical Sentra EC chair. The seat is fixed in its height, at 19.5″ from the floor. Also, this model doesn’t even come with leg rests as part of the standard package. The upshot here is that you can buy either elevating or swing-away footrests from Drive, depending on your needs. Unfortunately, there’s no option for this model to give you both, other than buying two sets of leg rests and swapping them out as your needs change. You can’t get one set of leg rests that perform both functions.
Whichever type of leg rest you buy for the chair, you will be able to adjust the length to taste, which allows you to tweak your seating experience for better comfort. Note that both leg rest styles come with calf pads, which further enhance comfort.
If you decide you want one of these, you can order yours with either desk length or full-length arms, that are either fixed in their position or removable, at your preference.
Comfort-wise, the chair is quite good for shorter periods of sitting. The nylon upholstery is both durable and breathable, and the padded arms and calf pads both work to enhance the comfort.
If you plan to sit in the chair for a substantial portion of each day, you’ll probably want to invest in some additional padding for both the seat and the seatback. Here, the possibilities are nearly endless, and you’ll find offerings by a large number of companies.
Extras and Options
There aren’t many extras to talk about here. Unfortunately, the Drive Bariatric Sentra EC chair doesn’t come with any onboard storage, but that’s not at all uncommon. It can even be seen as a bit of an opportunity since it gives you the freedom to get exactly what you want. If you plan on using the chair for travel, you’ll definitely want to add some type of storage solution.
The best way to look at this chair is that it’s a blank slate. A canvas, and you can paint anything you like onto it. Drive sells a wide range of enhancements, extras, and upgrades that fit all of the chairs they make, so buying this model gives you the freedom and flexibility to customize to your heart’s content and make the chair exactly what you want and need it to be.
Portability & Ease of Use
The Drive Medical Sentra wheelchair is about as portable as you’d expect a great big wheelchair to be, which is to say, not very.
At almost seventy pounds, it’s going to be a struggle to find room in the trunk for it. Depending on what airline you’re flying with, it may not be allowed on the plane, but it’s well worth calling to ask and check!
The good news is that once you get the chair out, it handles and maneuvers well. However, it bears repeating that it’s too wide to fit through a standard-width doorframe, which is going to present a few challenges.
Pros & Cons of Drive Bariatric Sentra EC
The best features of the Bariatric Sentra EC heavy-duty chair are its impressive weight limit and the fact that it’s a blank slate with lots of great upgrades, extras, and enhancements offered by the company.
On the flip side, since the chair doesn’t come with many extras offered as standard features, it means that the total cost of ownership for this model is higher than its listed price indicates.
Drive Sentra EC Review Conclusion
We really like this chair, but it’s definitely a self-selecting model. Drive Sentra EC reviews agree that less than 5% of the people in the market for a wheelchair will need something like this. If you’re a member of that 5%, then this model is highly recommended. For everyone else, we don’t recommend it at all.
References & Resources:
- Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Official Brand Website.
- Drive Medical Sentra EC User Manual.
- Perceived Impacts of a First Wheelchair on Social Participation, PubMed.
- Wheelchair Prescription, Healthline.
- Wheelchairs, KidsHealth.