Choosing a mobility scooter is a task not to be taken lightly. This high-tech device is going to be your trusty sidekick for years to come, so it needs to operate comfortably and safely, with features that fit your lifestyle.
Furthermore, there is a multitude of models to choose from, and it can get overwhelming fast.
In this guide, we present you with helpful tips to figure out which scooter is the one for you!
Choosing a Mobility Scooter Overview
Mobility scooters provide people with certain physical limitations the ability to travel over long distances without strain or fatigue.
It’s different from a wheelchair because scooter users possess the strength to sit upright on their own, stand, and steer without the additional support of cushions or side laterals.
For example, if you tire easily from running errands or can’t keep up on trips that require a lot of walking, then the scooter is a viable choice.
It’s portable, electric, and comes in various designs adapted for indoor or outdoor use.
One of the defining features of a scooter’s design is the number of wheels on the base, which plays a pivotal role in performance.
A mobility scooter either has three or four wheels. This is one of the first components you’ll look at to decide which setup best suits your needs.
Don’t know what that entails? Start by asking yourself basic questions, such as how you’ll use your scooter, whether you’ll use it indoors or outdoors, and how well your home is adapted to be accessible.
A three-wheeler, for example, boasts a sharper turning radius. This makes it much more adept at maneuvering around sharp turns and narrow doorways in a house.
It also performs better on smooth surfaces than a four-wheeler with smaller wheels, which are ideal for indoor use.
Taller people especially benefit from the narrower body, as it provides more legroom.
On the other hand, the four-wheeler is your best bet for outdoor cruising. It’s sturdier and wider, built to handle uneven terrains such as grass and gravel.
But the sacrifice is maneuverability, especially inside a home where turning needs to be efficient and flexible. The larger wheels just aren’t cut out for careening around furniture.
Different Types of Scooters
Four main types of mobility scooters feature either three or four-wheel designs.
Next up, let’s take a look at what to consider when selecting a mobility scooter.
Comfort and Safety
Probably the two most important elements of a mobility scooter are how comfortable it feels to operate for long periods and also how well it’s designed to prevent accidents.
Start with the scooter seat and backrest, taking into account which elements are a priority. For example, do you prefer a high-back chair with a headrest for added spine support? Or do you prefer a very specific recline angle?
Most scooters feature adjustable seats and armrests, which gives the user more flexibility to customize their fit.
Some models even come with rotating seats that make it easier for users to get on and off the scooter. This is ideal for someone who finds it challenging to stand and hoist their legs over the seat.
The leg positioning also needs to be observed, especially for taller users who benefit from plenty of space to stretch out between the footwells.
Shorter users should check that their feet can touch the floor of the scooter. If not, a height-adjustable foot box can be added to improve stability and comfort.
Other points of comfort to note include the following components:
If you’re an avid traveler, then portability is going to be your main focus when you select mobility scooters.
Lightweight is the name of the game here, which is determined by the materials used and whether the scooter can be folded or disassembled.
Scooters that can be taken apart produce parts that weigh around 33 lbs each, which is light enough to manually carry instead of relying on an expensive vehicle lift.
Batteries are also critical to note for travel. If you are interested in a lightweight power setup without sacrificing range, lithium-ion batteries are the way to go.
Do bear in mind that portability trumps comfort, so don’t expect any luxury features or plush seating with lightweight models!
However, if comfort is high up on your list and you’re an occasional traveler, you might prefer a mid-size scooter. It’s heavier, but you can still dismantle it for storage.
Full-size scooters that are not foldable or dismantlable might require a ramp, lift, or adapted van to be transported.
How much space do you have available in your home to store your mobility scooter?
While people do keep scooters outdoors, the most ideal solution is to provide indoor storage where the scooter is fully protected from the elements.
Cold and hot temperatures deteriorate the battery life, and other factors such as humidity can cause corrosion.
If you live in a small apartment and do not have the space for a scooter, consider a canopy for scooters. This is designed for storing these devices outdoors and shielding them from rain.
Customization is always another option to create your ultimate dream machine. There is a multitude of scooter accessories to enhance comfort and convenience. Decide what works best for you and make a list of accessories you’ll use often.
These are some of the most popular extras for scooters:
Scooter cost varies greatly, as it’s dependent on multiple factors, including the manufacturer, the number of features it has, and the materials it’s made from.
Full-sized scooters are going to be more expensive due to weight and size, starting at around $1,150. Three-wheelers begin at about $600, while four-wheelers are $650.
It’s always worth it to get in touch with your insurance company to review your policy for potential coverage.
If you have Medicare, scooters are covered under Part B, but you’ll have to get approved that you need it as durable medical equipment (DME). Once the Medicare cost is given, the user pays 20%, and Medicare pays 80%.
Choosing a Mobility Scooter Conclusion
When it comes to choosing a mobility scooter, it makes a difference to establish your operative goals and prioritize what components make your life easier.
You might prefer a comfortable seat, but this might mean sacrificing portability. Or perhaps you typically spend your time indoors and need a narrow scooter that maneuvers efficiently on a dime.
Whatever your needs may be, there is a scooter for you. All it takes is a bit of research. If you’re still unsure what to look for, you can always talk to your provider for recommendations.
Resources & References:
- A survey of adult power wheelchair and scooter users, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- The impact of mobility scooters on their users. Does their usage help or hinder? sciencedirect.com