Mobility Scooter Guide
If you are finding that you need extra help with getting around then choosing a mobility scooter could be the right thing. Before you rush into buying you should really spend time researching what you actually need. For this reason we have written a guide to help you in choosing a mobility scooter, within this series of guides you will find lots of key information that will make your choosing a lot easier. There are many deciding factors when choosing the right scooter for you and I’ll be taking you through what these important factors are.
Who should use a mobility scooter?
First things first you have to figure out if you are capable of using a mobility scooter. It is important to consider whether or not you have the right level of physical strength and balance to properly use a mobility scooter for the length of time you intend to use it for. Turning the tiller on tiller controlled scooters can become taxing on the upper body after extended periods of use and the bumping along can become unsettling if you have poor balance even if you are sitting down. It is recommended that you have good vision and hearing as you some mobility scooters can cause harm if you can’t react quick enough to an unforeseen event, such as a child running out in front of your scooter. If you have glasses or hearing aids this is fine so long as you have adequate ability to see and hear.
To summarize the recommended physical and mental capabilities required to use a mobility scooter safely are:
- Good Vision and Hearing
- Good reflexes for reacting to events happening around you
- Sufficient upper body strength to remain in control of steering for tiller controlled scooters
- Ability to remain seated for long periods of time without being unstable from bumping
If you think you successfully qualify as having these required skills then a mobility scooter could be the right mobility aid for you. If you do not think you have these skills then please consider looking into other more stable forms of electric mobility aids such as a powerchair (electric wheelchair) as these are designed for more comfort and have joystick control.
Mobility Aid Classes
If you think you qualify to use a mobility scooter you then have to think about what you want to use it for. There are different scooters for all kinds of different uses, from small indoor scooters right the way up to all terrain off road buggies that people can use to traverse the countryside and go for long distances. Mobility scooters and aids are generally put into classes according to their design and capabilities. All electric mobility scooters are either Class 2 or above.
These classes are:
This class consists of the manual mobility aids such as push wheelchairs and rolators. If your mobility problems are going to last a sufficient length of time, maybe 6 months or more, then a electric mobility scooter would be recommended to provide independent mobility.
Best Used For:
- Rollators – Carrying shopping and walking aid
- Push Wheelchairs – initial injury recovery used with a carer
This is where mobility scooters and powerchairs(electric wheelchairs) intended only for pavement and footpath use are classed. They usually have a restricted speed of 4mph. These tend to be the smaller scooters which are most suitable for indoor use and have small turning circles allowing for better indoor maneuverability. The scooters can usually have an easy disasembly feature and put in a car boot for use only when going round the shops. Not used for long distance trips between home and shops. There are both 3 and four wheel scooters in this class.
Best Used For:
- Movement about the home, good for bungalows
- Going shopping if you transport it in your car and assemble it there
The powerchairs and scooters in this class are the fastest and have a maximum speed limit of up to 8mph, users can change speed usually via turning a small knob on the tiller of the scooter. They are also larger and heavier as more suspension tends to be built into them to accommodate a driver at the higher speeds. They tend not to be able to be dissembled so are not as portable as the class 2 scooters, most are 4 wheel scooters and you can travel longer distances as the battery packs are more powerful. Contains Offroad mobility scooters are included in this class as well as most offer higher speeds. Also contains scooters that have good indoor outdoor versatility.
Best Used For:
- Long distance travel to and from shops, adjustable speed for use inside shops
- Greater Mobility around local areas and countryside (offroad scooter only)
Indoor versus Outdoor Scooters
There can be major differences between a scooter primarily for indoor use and one that is designed for travelling on the pavements and roads, there are scooters that can be used as both aswell. It will be worth considering if you want just an indoor mobility scooter to help you around the home as it might be cheaper than getting a scooter suitable for both indoors and outdoors.
If you really want to travel to the shops and round the shops you would want to invest in a class 3 scooter suited for both. However if you want to walk round the shops but only ride the scooter to and from the shops then a mobility scoot for the outdoors would be more suitable.
Common Features for Indoor scooters
- Small turning circles – indoors needs better maneuverability as you will be driven between door frames
- Thin Total Width – As you need to fit through doors you should check the total width of the scooter is smaller than your doorframe. Best to measure it for about an inch or more of space either side of the scooter when using it about the home.
- Not particularly comfy seats – The indoor scooters tend not to be designed for maximum comfort as the idea is not to spend all the time seated in them, but just for moving about the home and getting in and out. In that respect they tend to be easy to get in and out of, with swivel seats, but do not make for particularly comfortable sitting.
Common Features for Outdoor scooters
- Comfy Seats – Scooters intended for long distance are designed with comfort in mind, at least the best ones are. So they are generally comfier than their indoor counterparts
- Anti Puncture Tires – If using on the road then a flat tire would be a nightmare, good outdoor road scooters use anti puncture tires that have a wide contact base with the ground to allow for better traction and a better ride
- Suspension – Just like a bike and a car, suspension is needed on outdoor mobility scooters to help smooth out the ride and make the time spent seated more enjoyable.
So that is Part 1 of this guide, I have introduced the types of scooters and what you need to consider before you start thinking about buying one.
Part 2 of this guide will give you a detailed insight into what makes up a mobility scooter with an explanation about its different parts and what you should be on the lookout for when choosing a mobility scooter that is right for you.