Around 3.3 million Americans use a wheelchair, while a further 10 million people rely on walking aids such as crutches and canes.
If mobility is becoming difficult for you, you might be considering buying a power wheelchair or scooter. As well as preserving your physical health, these kinds of mobility devices can give you more independence, a whole new sense of freedom, and improve your quality of life no end.
That said, it’s important to purchase a wheelchair that suits your particular needs.
Want to know whether a mobility scooter or a power wheelchair is the right choice for you? Keep reading to find out more!
Power Wheelchair vs. Mobility Scooter: The Differences
When deciding between these two options, your first step should be to consider your needs and limitations. You’ll also need to think about how and when you plan on using your new wheelchair. For example, if you need a wheelchair for indoor as well as outdoor use, this will have an impact on your decision. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between power wheelchairs and scooters to help you decide:
Power wheelchairs can vary in size and design but all models consist of a seated frame propelled by a battery pack located at the back or base of the device. Most power wheelchairs feature a joystick placed on either the left or right armrest to control, steer, and maneuver the device.
Power wheelchairs usually have four or six wheels and tend to be non-folding. However, modern, lightweight folding models now exist, while it is sometimes possible to dismantle other models for transit. Power wheelchairs are suitable for both full-time and part-time mobility assistance as you can use them both inside and outside the home.
Like power wheelchairs, mobility scooters are battery-powered. Although, they are configured in the style of a motor scooter rather than a seated wheelchair design. Mobility scooters usually have three or four wheels, and often feature a large seat with armrests, a flat base for your feet, and a handlebar-style driving mechanism.
Mobility scooters are ideal for people who need assistance outside the home but lack the strength for a manual wheelchair. For this reason, many people opt for scooter rental to provide added independence and freedom when visiting outdoor attractions.
How to Choose a Wheelchair to Suit Your Needs
Now you know the main differences between scooters and power wheelchairs, here are some extra considerations to help you decide on the right mobility device for you:
Selecting a Power Wheelchair
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of power wheelchairs:
By design, power wheelchairs are battery-operated versions of manual wheelchairs – albeit with possible extras such as reclining functions. This allows even those of you with even severe mobility restrictions to enjoy complete freedom and independence. The best power wheelchairs are also comfortable, making them ideal for full-time use if necessary.
Whether using a power wheelchair inside or outside the home, you’ll find that most models operate well on a variety of surfaces. The responsive joystick function also makes it a lot easier to steer and maneuver a power wheelchair than a mobility scooter.
Since they don’t have the obstructive central handlebars of a mobility scooter, power wheelchairs are suitable for work, home, and leisure use as you can pull right up to counters and desks while using one. What’s more, the compact style and maneuverability of power chairs make them easier to use in tight spaces, such as elevators, busy stores, and on public transport.
Power wheelchairs are often very expensive, while the price tag only increases if you need extras such as titling features and adjustable leg rests. And if you want a foldable power wheelchair for easy transit, you can expect to pay out thousands of dollars more on top. As such, you may prefer to rent a wheelchair if you only plan on using one for a limited period.
Since most power wheelchairs are non-folding, they are difficult to transport in your car without a ramp or lift. And even then, you would need a minivan rather than a regular car for the extra storage space.
Another issue to bear in mind is that some power wheelchairs have an inadequate suspension for heavy outdoor use. This can make some models unsuitable for using over long distances outside the home.
Selecting a Mobility Scooter
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of mobility scooters:
Although some scooters are big and bulky, smaller, more lightweight models are made to fit in the trunk of your car for easy transportation between locations.
Another big advantage of mobility scooters is that they’re often a lot more affordable than power wheelchairs.
Most mobility scooters have limited indoor use and are unsuitable for using inside the home. Due to the obstructive handlebars, you can’t pull mobility scooters right up to desks and counters. They can also be difficult to maneuver, making them tricky for entering stores and elevators.
And, while scooters might look easy to operate, you need full usage of your upper body and a good degree of balance to use and steer one.
Choosing the Right Wheelchair for You
If you’ve decided it’s time to buy a wheelchair, this guide is sure to have helped you choose the right style for your needs.
But, whether you go for a power wheelchair or a scooter, your choice of mobility device will no doubt provide a huge and immediate boost to your independence and quality of life.
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