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      February 21, 2017
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How to Choose a Mobility Scooter

There are many differences between a powered mobility scooter and a powered wheelchair.

Powered wheelchairs are smaller, primarily for indoor use, and can be either front-wheel or rear-wheel drive. They provide mobility for people who have limited use of their arms and hands. They are often controlled by a single joystick that can be mounted on either the right or left. An advantage of a powered wheelchair is that they have no obstruction in the front, so they can pull directly up to a table or counter. They are also compact, not much longer or wider than a regular chair. This means they can be driven down hallways and through doors that might be too narrow for a larger scooter. If you need to be able to get around in your own home and have limited use of your arms or hands, a chair might be right for you.

Scooters are built primarily for outdoor use (or in large venues, like shopping malls) and are for people who are able to do some walking, for example getting off the scooter and walking into a store to shop. Scooters come in three wheel or four wheel configurations, often with pneumatic tires to handle uneven terrain. Larger tires provide increased ground clearance, which helps cross low obstacles that might be more challenging to powered wheelchairs. Scooters usually come with handlebars mounted on a steering column in the front, so they cannot be pulled directly up to a table. To use a mobility scooter, you must be able to steer and operate the controls with your arms and hands. There is usually an accelerator control mounted to one side of the handlebars or the other. Releasing the accelerator is what activates the brake.

Every chair or scooter should have a comfortable seat, a backrest, and support for the feet that together provide a sturdy and safe platform for riding. The seat on a mobility scooter will usually swivel right and left, making mounting and dismounting easier. A scooter might require a higher step up or down compared to a powered wheelchair.

If you are going to be using your chair or scooter outdoors, the seat should be wide enough for you to sit comfortably in outdoor clothing. However, it should not be so wide that you do not feel secure when sitting facing squarely forward. On the other hand, if the seat is too narrow you might be unable to shift your weight occasionally and limit the amount of time you can sit comfortably.

To sum up:

  • If you have limited upper body strength or control, you might consider a powered wheelchair instead of a scooter.
  • On the other hand, if you can handle the steering and controls, and can get on and off the vehicle to walk a little bit, a scooter might be just what you need.

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