Two of the most common everyday mobility solutions are power wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Both allow users to easily navigate daily excursions without the stress of walking, though they do have important differences. Here, we’ll cover what differentiates power wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as well as how to choose which solution is best for you.
If you or a loved one needs some extra support “getting around”, mobility scooters are the most popular, affordable option. These battery-powered scooters are great for users who need only mild to moderate mobility assistance, as they do require arm and torso strength to operate the tiller handle.
Mobility scooters can be excellent for travel: many models fold down or disassemble to be easily tucked away in a storage compartment. This bypasses the need to purchase an expensive vehicle lift. Mobility scooters come in many lightweight models to make even airline travel a breeze.
Buyers can choose between smaller 3-wheeled scooters with tight turning radiuses or more sturdy 4-wheeled scooters that can navigate rougher terrain with ease.
Mobility scooters are a great option for many, but do have limitations. They are not a good solution for users who lack arm/torso strength or will be primarily in tight, narrow spaces. Scooters are generally larger than electric wheelchairs and require a bit extra space to maneuver.
In short, scooters are entry-level mobility solutions: designed for those who are still largely mobile but need a bit of extra help. In contrast, a power wheelchair is designed for users who progress out of a scooter and are more dependent on a mobility device for everyday life.
As compared to manual wheelchairs, battery-powered wheelchairs can be operated easily with a one-handed joystick– this allows users to control the chair with very little effort.
These wheelchairs are usually more compact than mobility scooters, and can easily navigate smaller spaces. However, many models lack the portability of mobility scooters. They can be more difficult to transport, as most cannot be folded or disassembled for travel. Power wheelchairs can come in a wide range of models for different lifestyles, and some even support extreme terrains like sand or snow.
Questions to consider when purchasing your mobility device
When deciding whether to purchase a power wheelchair or mobility scooter, you may want to consider the following questions:
- What level of mobility does the user possess? Will they use this device all day, every day, or only occasionally?
- Does the user have sufficient arm/torso strength to operate a scooter tiller?
- Will the user be traveling frequently? How important is portability?
- In what terrains will the device be used? Around the house? Across grass or gravelly areas?
The answers to these questions should help inform your purchase. However, if you find yourself needing a bit more assistance we strongly recommend you contact our team of product specialists to find the perfect model for you.