If you suffer from limited mobility, you should consider a powered scooter instead of a wheelchair or as a complement to a wheelchair.
Scooters are more visually appealing compared to wheelchairs and are easier to transport since they are usually more compact and weigh less. They are also easier to maneuver. Keep reading if you want to find out more about this type of mobility aids and want to find out if a mobility scooter could be a good option for you.
How Are Mobility Scooters Made?
Mobility scooters usually include a platform with wheels. The drive unit and the battery are built into this platform. Scooters usually feature a seat and some hand rests with controls. Some scooters have a rear wheel drive unit so you can use them on a more challenging terrain or if you need more traction. Steel, fiberglass or aluminum is typically used to make the platform of the scooter and the drive unit. The dashboard and drive head might be covered. If you want to get a scooter, look for one that will be easy to maneuver. Look at how the front of the scooter turns and consider the size and ground clearance of the unit.
Choose A Safe And Comfortable Scooter
The size and construction of your mobility scooter are really important since they will impact your comfort. You should be able to comfortably place your feet on the platform of the scooter and easily reach the commands. Try different models until you find one that is adapted to your size. You should be able to find a scooter with an adjustable seat and handles. You might also want a larger base or some footrests if you are tall or need to wear a leg brace.
Look For These Safety Features
You need to make sure the base of the scooter will remain stable when you take sharp turns or find yourself on an incline. Some scooters feature an anti-tip feature to keep the wheels stable when you maneuver the unit. Ask about the safety features of the scooter you are interested in.
Choose A Scooter With A Reliable Drive Train
Front Wheel Drive Scooters
Front wheel drive scooters are made to be used indoor. These units are a little less powerful but they are usually easier to maneuver and might be smaller and lighter. This is a good option if you will mostly be driving over smooth surfaces. The downside is that curbs might be a problem. Front wheel drive scooters are easy to transport and should fit in most wheelchair lifts due to their smaller size.
Rear Wheel Drive Scooters
Rear wheel scooters are more powerful and typically have batteries that last longer. They are ideal for rougher and uneven terrains. These scooters are usually larger and might be harder to maneuver compared to front wheel drive scooters. They can usually go faster and might be harder to transport. Your rear wheel drive scooter will probably not fit in most wheelchair lifts.
Test The Brakes
You need to be able to rely on the brakes of your scooter. Rear wheel drive scooters usually feature electronic barking systems and the scooter will stop when you let go of the controls. You will have to use the brake release lever for the scooter to be able to move. Most scooters also have disc brakes instead of an electronic system. Some scooters feature both systems.
Front wheel drive scooters usually have disc brakes as well as a parking brake so you can manually stop the rear wheels.
How Long Will The Battery Last?
Scooters are powered by one or two 12 or 24-volt batteries. You will usually find a 24-volt battery in a rear wheel drive scooter and most front wheel drive scooters have a 12-volt battery. The battery is used to keep the scooter powered and not to start up the scooter like a car battery would, which is why different types of batteries are used. You can purchase an add on for your battery but keep in mind that this will make the battery last longer but won’t make the scooter go faster. A battery typically lasts between a year and a year and a half depending on how much you use your scooter. Batteries can withstand being constantly discharged and charged. You can find batteries with gel cell in them or with lead acid. Most scooters come with a charger and you will not have to pay extra for this accessory. If you want to buy an additional charger, make sure you get one that is compatible with the kind of battery used in your scooter. You can use an integral charger since they are smaller, but this means that scooter will have to be taken apart if repairs are needed. Independent chargers take more space but you can simply replace them if they stop working.
Choose The Right Kind Of Wheels And Tires
The size of the wheels and tires will impact the maneuverability of your scooter. Your scooter will be easier to maneuver if the front wheels and tires are smaller but you will get less traction. This is why most rear wheel drive scooters have large tires designed to grip the terrain. You can find scooters with foam filled tires, solid tires or pneumatic tires. This last type of tire will provide you with the most comfort but they require more maintenance and you will have to replace them. Foam filled tired do not require any maintenance but will feel less comfortable. Solid tires are your best option if you will be mostly using your scooter indoor. They do not require any maintenance but are not very comfortable.
Test The Seating
Seating is really important when choosing a mobility scooter. Look for a scooter with seat padding and with a comfortable head rest. You might also want a seat with arm rests. A seat with fabric covering should be more comfortable than a vinyl seat but you will have to spend a little more. You should also consider a powered seat to make getting in and out of the scooter easier. A powered seat is an interesting feature if you want to be able to reach up while sitting in your scooter. The downside of powered seats is that they will use more power and make the cost of the scooter go up. Look for an adjustable seat if you are taller or shorter than average and make sure the arm rests can be flipped up so you can easily get in and out of the scooter.
Familiarize Yourself With The Controls
Most scooters feature thumb levers but you might also find joysticks or loop handles. If a thumb lever would not be easy to use for you, look for a scooter with a joystick on the arm rest.
Accessories Are Important
You might need a scooter that can carry some items you need. A crutch holder, a space to transport an oxygen tank or any other items you need are crucial. Choose a scooter with a front or a rear basket, a horn and some lights if you want to go places with it.
Which Scooter Is right For You?
You need to look for a scooter that is adapted to your unique needs. Ask yourself where you will use the scooter, how much time you will spend in it and what the ideal size of the scooter would be. Test different kinds of controls and make a list of the features you would like to find in your mobility scooter to find the perfect model.