When considering purchasing a mobility scooter or a power wheelchair, you might have a lot of questions. There are many differences between motorized scooters and electric wheelchairs. By understanding these distinctions, you will be able to choose which mobility product is right for your needs.
The Difference Between How Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs Operate
One of the biggest differences between a scooter and a power chair is how they are operated.
Mobility scooters are equipped with a tiller and handle bars, as opposed to a power wheelchair, which is operated using a joystick.
Your range of mobility in operating a device may indicate whether a scooter or power chair is best for you.
Another difference is the number of wheels they have. An electric scooter typically has three or four wheels, whereas an electric wheelchair typically has six wheels or more. Most power chairs have two large drive wheels and four smaller wheels called casters for added stability.
Power wheelchairs come standard with captain’s style seating and there may be optional seating available, such as a solid seat pan or a Synergy® seat. The Jazzy Select 6 power wheelchair offers a few seating options to choose from. Scooters usually come with standard vinyl seating, although the seat can be adjusted and may be able to swivel, such as the Victory® 10 3-wheel scooter.
When it comes to comfort, electric wheelchairs are equipped with a height-adjustable foot platform that can flip up when not in use. Leg room on a scooter can vary depending on the type of mobility scooter chosen. A three-wheel scooter offers more leg room for taller individuals, while a four-wheel scooter is equipped with a broader wheelbase to ensure even weight distribution for stability.
Some scooters or extremely portable making them very conducive for traveling. They can be taken apart and placed in your small area in your back-seat or trunk in less than 30 seconds. They can be assembled just as quickly. There are also folding travel scooters and power chairs that don’t even need to be dissembled to just place in your back seat or trunk AND they are commercial airline approved.
Vehicle Lifts for Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs
If you have a scooter or power wheelchair that doesn’t easily dissemble plus is heavier, a vehicle lift is a great option. When working with a scooter / power chair company, tell them what kind of vehicle you have. They will then match the vehicle with the scooter or power chair to confirm which vehicle lift is appropriate. There is almost always a vehicle lift solution for your power chair or scooter. Of course, if you want the ultimate vehicle lift, just purchase a wheelchair van. Wheelchair vans are an excellent option to get out and go anywhere.
Questions to Ask When Choosing between Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs
To determine whether you need a motorized wheelchair or an electric scooter, ask yourself:
Difference in Usage Between Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs
Where the mobility product will be used? While many motorized scooters and electric wheelchairs can be used both indoors and out, power chairs offer more maneuverability indoors. With its front-wheel drive design, the Jazzy Select motorized wheelchair is extremely compact and maneuverable. In contrast, many scooters are more rugged and designed for outdoor use. The scooter could be equipped with suspension components for navigating varied terrain.
Medicare and Payment Methods for Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs
Another point to consider when choosing between a scooter or a power chair is your method of paying for the mobility device. Medicare may cover a portion of the cost of a power mobility device for use in your home, providing it is shown to be medically necessary. You need to schedule a face-to-face examination with your doctor to discuss your needs for a mobility device. During the exam, your physician must first consider the use of a cane, walker or manual wheelchair, before considering a scooter or power chair. A face-to-face exam and a special prescription from your doctor are required before Medicare considers to help pay for your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair. If you have private insurance, they generally follow Medicare guidelines.
Many people find they can get around in their residence safely with a cane or walker, but if they want to go to the park, grocery store, a family event then they don’t feel so stable or safe. They feel like a scooter or power chair will keep them more stable and able to keep up. Since they can get along without the power chair or scooter in their own home then Medicare/insurance will not pay for the chair and often the person pays out of their pocket.
Choosing A Vendor for Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs
When choosing a company that will provide your scooter or lift chair, you should consider the following:
- Do they have scooter / power chair specialists on staff? Ask to speak with their Assistive Technology Practitioner. This is someone who is certified and trained to fit people properly for wheelchairs, power chairs and scooters.
- Do they have a large selection of power chairs and scooters on hand, so you actually can see and touch what you may end up with or they can customize for you?
- Do they have vehicle lift options on display, so you can see options to be able to use your power chair or scooter outside the home?
- Do they have on hand travel (folding) scooters and power chairs?
- Do they have wheelchair vans for sell and rent?
- Can they modify your vehicle on site, so it can adapt your scooter or power chair?
If you answered “yes” to all of the above, then you likely are working with an excellent mobility company. Often a power chair or scooter are your legs. Therefore, it’s important to be diligent to be sure you get what’s best for you.