If you are experiencing mobility problems either because of age, disability or illness you are probably thinking about buying an electric wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Both are great at providing mobility and helping you stay active. They are much better than manual wheelchairs which require dependency on a caretaker or adequate arm strength to operate.
First, let’s see what they have in common.
Similarities between a mobility scooter and electric wheelchair
For one, there are both electric. They are equipped with a battery pack that powers a motor system which then drives the wheels. Unlike a manual wheelchair, you don’t need to do any work or depend on a caregiver to move around.
Note: There are a few mobility scooters that use small engines.
Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs have four wheels although there a few mobility scooters with 3.
They can both be used indoors as well as outdoors. But this depends on the particular model you are using. Some are designed for indoor use only while others can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Both are designed to help with mobility needs. You can use them to maintain some degree of freedom in your life. You can go shopping, take a stroll around the garden or move from room to room when in the house.
Most modern mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs can be disassembled into 3 or 4 parts. This makes it easy to fit them in the trunk of your car when travelling.
Finally, they are both heavy, often averaging between30kg and 70kg. But you can find some lightweight models weighing less than 30kg.
Now let’s see how different they are in terms of features, functionality and ease of use.
A mobility scooter comes with 2 or 3 wheels, uses a rechargeable battery pack and is operated using handlebars. It’s ideal for those with mild to average mobility issues and can comfortably control the scooter with their hands.
A scooter needs more skill to operate. You need to be able to maintain balance especially when driving outdoors.
Mobility scooters are ideal for those who can walk a bit and sit or stand without support. That’s why they are often recommended for elderly persons who find it difficult or painful to walk or stand for too long but can still stand, sit and walk on their own.
Scooters are not ideal for small homes as they need a larger turning area. They can be difficult to manoeuvre around the house. But they are great for outdoor use. They can tackle tough terrain and steep inclines. They are also better for long distance travelling.
- Great for outdoor use.
- Comfortable with large legroom and adjustable chair height.
- Fairly easy to operate.
- Require adequate arm strength and body balance to operate. Not ideal for those with serious disabilities and mobility problems.
- Usually not foldable. They often cannot fit in small trunks or storage spaces.
- Not ideal for small homes and apartments.
Electric wheelchairs are best for those with serious mobility problems. This is because they require minimal effort to operate. Most use a sensitive joystick or touch controls.
They are great for indoor use even in small homes. They can turn in tight spaces and are easy to manoeuvre around furniture and between rooms. Higher-performance models can also be used outdoors and even on the road (Class 3 wheelchairs).
Electric wheelchairs provided more customizability in terms of comfort than mobility scooters. You can adjust the seat height, foot rests, reclining angle, armrests and various other components depending on the specific model. This not only makes them more comfortable, they also make it easier to get in and out.
For storage and travel, electric wheelchairs are better. Most can be folded down into a compact shape that fits in tight spaces.
- Great for indoor use.
- Ideal for disabled persons and those with serious mobility problems.
- Adjustable comfort features.
- Easy to operate.
- Not ideal for extensive outdoor use or long distance travelling.
A mobility scooter is the Best Choice if:
You have adequate body strength and can stand, sit and walk on your own. It’s also ideal if you want something you’ll use as much indoors as you’ll do outdoors.
A powered wheelchair is the Best Choice If:
You have serious mobility limitations. If you need help standing, sitting or walking, a powered wheelchair is best. It’s also ideal if you don’t have enough arm strength to operate handlebars on a scooter.