If age, illness or infirmity is causing you mobility problems, you have a number of possible solutions. The traditional one is the wheelchair. However the mobility scooter can be a more attractive option. Here’s a look at mobility scooters so you can decide if it’s the right device for you.
Firstly, what exactly is a mobility scooter? It’s an aid to mobility that functions like a wheelchair but has a configuration like a motor scooter. Its also known as a power-operated scooter or an electric scooter. Mobility scooters range from small folding travel scooters to heavy-duty items.
Mobility scooters consist of a seat over two rear wheels. There’s a flat area to rest the feet and handlebars in front. Some have swivelling seats to make access easier. Mobility scooters are controlled by tillers which offer forward and reverse movement and speed controls. They are powered by rechargeable batteries
So are they for you? Mobility scooters are similar to wheelchairs but are generally lighter and cheaper. Generally, mobility scooters are best for people with milder mobility problems, perhaps related to age. They are especially helpful for users suffering from whole-body disabling conditions such as heart conditions or arthritis. Users just need to be able to sit erect without torso support. A scooter is also suitable for persons without the stamina or arm/shoulder flexibility needed for a manual wheelchair.
Other advantages of mobility scooters include greater manoeuvrability compared to wheelchairs. This makes it possible to make tighter turns and navigate more types of terrain. The batteries, too, last longer than those in wheelchairs.
On the downside, the length of mobility scooters restricts their turning radius and the low ground clearance can make navigation of curbs difficult. They are also unsuitable for some people due to their lack of body support, for the head or legs for example.
Now let’s look at the types of mobility scooters available.
Mobility scooters are in two main classes. Class 2 scooters are for pavement use only and have a maximum speed of 4 mph. Class 3 scooters can travel on the road and have a maximum speed of 8 mph. To travel on the pavement, a Class 3 scooter needs to be fitted with a restrictor switch that limits the speed to 4 mph. They must also have front and rear lights, traffic indicators, rear view mirrors and a horn.
The choice of mobility scooter or wheelchair should depend on a number of factors but fundamentally, if you have to remain in your mobility device for most of the day, a wheelchair will be more comfortable. On the other hand, scooters are more attractive in appearance.
If you’ve decided to invest in a mobility scooter, here are some tips. Firstly, always buy one with a recognised brand name. These include Pride Mobility Products, Shoprider Mobility Scooters, and Sunrise Medical. All these companies have head offices in the UK and dealers all around the country. This is useful for maintenance and spare parts.
Next, always try and match your size and weight before you buy. In fact, try a number of scooters until you find one that feels comfortable for such factors as legroom. You can ask the sales person to make various adjustments to the tiller or the seat for you. Take on for a spin and see if you’re comfortable with the stability and the way it feels going over various surfaces.
Your best option is to find a firm with a track record in providing mobility scooters and mobility scooters products. Such a firm has the experience and knowledge to give you the critical advice you need when buying the right scooter.