Spring is upon us, and many people are looking for ways to to spend more time outside. This can be especially difficult for people like me who have mobility challenges. I use a manual wheelchair as my primary mobility device, but last year I started using a mobility scooter periodically when up at my cottage. Despite being a wheelchair user for 14 years, I had never really considered using a scooter until then, and was amazed at the freedom it offered. It allowed me to venture further distances, on rougher terrain, and spend time outside in new places with my family.
Yes, mobility scooters are limited in terms of modular seating options so users who are prone to skin breakdown, or require enhanced support in your seating for balance, need to be mindful of these limitations. That being said, scooters are a great option for large segments of the population with more limited mobility impairments, or for shorter durations by those who have more complex seating needs. It is always good to speak to an OT about the pros and cons of any option.
If you think a mobility scooter might be something worth trying, below are 5 things you should consider to make sure you choose the best model to suit your needs. We have many different makes and models available, so be sure to give these questions some thought before making a purchase.
5 Things to Consider
- Where is the scooter going to be used? There are many different sizes and models of scooters available. If you want to use the scooter on grass or other rough trails you might consider a larger model with more ground clearance. There are also smaller more maneuverable options for indoor use. The two pictures below give an idea of the range in models available, from one meant for off-road use (Pride Wrangler) to one for indoor use (Pride Jazzy Zero-Turn)
- Will the scooter need to be transported, or will it stay in one location? Different models of scooters are easier to transport than others. Some, like the Jazzy shown below, are designed to be broken down easily into sections, with each part being light enough for someone to lift and stow in a vehicle. Others are large and require heavy lifting into a truck/trailer/van, or some sort of lift to transport (example). Typically you will need to sacrifice size, ground-clearance, and comfort (suspension, larger seats, etc.) for the lighter and more easily transported models, but they have some that are a blend of both.
- What is the required range of the scooter? Each scooter has a specified approximate range based on the size of the batteries and expected charge duration. Of course this is only an estimate and will depend on the type of terrain being navigated and the current health of the batteries (batteries gradually decline over time eventually needing to be replaced). If you have specific locations that you want to be able to travel to, such as a nearby pharmacy or grocery sore, make sure that selected scooter is going to be capable of getting you there on a single charge.
- What size of scooter do you need? Each scooter has a specified weight limit, seat height, seat depth. Be sure that the scooter will work for you before you buy.
- What is your budget? Some scooters are more affordable than others, so be sure to check your budget or get a pre-approval from your funding source before moving ahead with a purchase. There are periodic promotions (such as seniors day) so keep an eye out for the best time to get a good deal.
We are here to help!
Call one of our stores or reach out to your sales rep if you would like to look into mobility scooters. If you would prefer to avoid coming to our stores due to COVID-19, someone can come to you and bring a scooter for you to try. Call today so we can get you ready to take advantage of the great summer weather to come!
Matt Kinnie is on the executive team and the resident wheelchair user at Tango Medical. In addition to working at Tango, Matt is also a father of two and international level cyclist, so provides a unique perspective on all things mobility related.