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Power Wheelchair vs Scooter - Making the Right Choice

by Jessica Hegg September 09, 2021 0 Comments

scooter vs power wheelchair

If you’re new to the mobility aid world and need help deciding between a power wheelchair vs. scooter, it can be confusing to know where to start. In this article, we will break down the main features and differences of each, provide helpful tips, and point you in the right direction.

What’s the Difference?

One main difference between a mobility scooter and a power wheelchair is that power wheelchairs are used on a more, long-term, 24/7 basis. These users are mostly wheelchair-bound and rely on their mobility aid to complete everyday tasks.

Whereas mobility scooters can be used inside the home but they are more commonly used when traveling to places where a lot of walking or standing can be expected. Operating a mobility scooter takes fine motor skills along with much greater trunk control and arm strength to steer.

Which is Better?

When it comes to power-operated mobility aids, one is not superior to the other. Both designs have similar drive ranges, go the same speed, and can be used indoors and outdoors. The best vehicle depends greatly on individual needs. Consider the following:

  • How often will I need my scooter or wheelchair?
  • When do I need my scooter or power wheelchair?
  • Do I have enough trunk and arm strength to operate a mobility scooter?
  • Do I have the fine motor skills to work the controls on a mobility scooter?
  • Will it fit in my house?
  • Am I able to travel with my mobility aid easily?

Power Wheelchair vs Scooter

Steering Battery Terrain Weight Capacity Foldable USB Port Safety Belt Storage Basket TSA Approved
Mobility Scooter Tiller 12AH All Terrain 265 X icon X icon X icon check icon check icon
Power Wheelchair Joystick 24AH All Terrain 220 check icon check icon check icon X icon check icon

Mobility Scooters

While sometimes used around the home, mobility scooters are often used when traveling. They are most convenient in places where a lot of walking is required; such as nursing homes, grocery stores, airports, malls, or amusement parks. Most designs come equipped with suspension and more rugged wheels for a smooth ride over most terrains. For those who fatigue easily or have limited mobility and want to stay active, a power mobility scooter gives the freedom to do just that.

Main Features

Some unique mobility scooter features include:

  • Tiller
  • Swivel Seat
  • Height Adjustable Seat
  • 3 or 4 Wheels
  • 4-Piece Disassembly
  • Anti-Tip Frame
  • Storage Basket

Click here to check out our 4-Wheel Mobility Scooter with all the features listed above.

Advantages of a Mobility Scooter

Advantages of a mobility scooter that stand out include:

  • Multiple Models

    There are a wide variety of makes and models available on the market. From 3-wheels to 4-wheels, weight capacities, compact and full-size designs, and recreational use to color choices; the options are unlimited.

  • Simplicity

    Mobility power scooters are no-nonsense mobility aids. The design is user-friendly, easy to operate, and not overly complicated with adjustable features.

  • Travel Friendly

    Most mobility scooters do not have the capability to fold, but the majority can be broken down into 4 or 5 individual pieces that can be easily transported in most vehicles or stored away for later use. They can also travel fully assembled using a special electric wheelchair lift or car hitch.

    This one breaks down into 4 pieces and is TSA approved!

  • Relatively Affordable

    Mobility scooters tend to be less expensive than most power wheelchairs. Basic models are offered at a fraction of the cost.

    Check out our most convenient, reliable, and affordable 3-Wheel Scooter here.

Disadvantages

Although conveniently designed, there are some disadvantages you may want to consider before making your final decision.

  • Does Not Fold

    Most mobility scooters do not have the ability to fold. Instead standard scooters are designed to dismesble and reassembly in 4 separate parts. While not as convenient it still gives you the ability to travel or store your scooter.

    There are higher priced models that do fold; however, these more minimal designs often lack features that customers shopping for a mobility scooter are looking for.

  • Larger Turn Radius

    Due to the way mobility scooters are designed, the long body needs a bit of space when navigating turns. Power wheelchairs typically have a 0° turning radius.

  • Requires Upper-Body Strength

    To steer and operate the tiller and handlebars, the operator needs to have good truck control, arm strength, and fine motor control.

    Learn More About Choosing the Best Mobility Scooter

Power Wheelchairs

Power wheelchairs are long-term mobility device used by those who have medical conditions or very limited mobility and are unable to use a manual wheelchair or power scooter. These chairs are more commonly used indoors. Most often users find themselves spending an extended amount of time utilizing the chair and rely on it to complete everyday tasks.

Main Features

Some unique power wheelchair features include:

  • Joystick
  • 4 to 6 Wheels
  • Padded Cushion
  • Adjustable Footrest
  • Seat Belt
  • USB Charger
  • Safety Horn
  • Shock Absorbing Tires

Advantages of a Power Wheelchair

Advantages of a power wheelchair that stand out include:

  • Zero Turning Radius

    Since power wheelchairs are designed for indoor and daily use, having a zero turning radius makes completing everyday tasks easier and allows you to navigate tight spaces.

    This one has no turning radius!

  • Can Be Customized

    Basic models are designed to serve general needs at an affordable price, but depending on your needs and budget there are a lot of custom options available; such as seating options, backrest, recline, footrests, tires, colors, and more.

Disadvantages

Power wheelchairs are designed with the utmost convenience and maneuverability in mind, but there are some factors you should consider.

Tips for Making the Right Choice

A power wheelchair or mobility scooter is not a small purchase. These power-operated vehicles are expensive and choosing one to fit your lifestyle is very important. Making the wrong decision can end up costing you or even increase the risk of an injury. Here are some tips to help you out.

Assess Your Needs

Deciding between a power wheelchair and a mobility scooter greatly depends on your individual needs, abilities, and existing conditions. If you lack upper body strength, coordination, and fine motor skills, you should consider a power wheelchair for both safety and convenience.

Research Models/Options

Power wheelchairs can be fully customizable, making options almost endless. However, there are also a variety of standard powered wheelchairs you can choose from as well. These tend to have less customization.

Mobility electric scooters also come in a variety of makes and models. Most have all the same basic features, but if you’re looking for something extra, premium models are available at a higher cost.

It’s important to take inventory of all your options before purchasing. Read into the features of each and consider making a chart to compare models.

Check with Insurance

Being a higher-ticket medical device, both power wheelchairs and mobility scooters are sometimes covered by insurance plans. Before paying out of pocket, check your policy to see if you’re eligible for credit or reimbursement.

Determine Where You’ll Use Your Mobility Aid

Where will you need to use your scooter or wheelchair? Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Do you plan for indoor or outdoor use?

    Both can be used inside and outside, but if you plan to be using your chair long-term on a daily basis then we recommend looking into getting a power wheelchair that is more comfortable indoors.

  • Will you spend the majority of your day using your vehicle?

    If you need mobility assistance due to a disability or lack of strength to complete your everyday activities, a power wheelchair may be more suitable.

  • Do you plan to use it every day?

    Both mobility scooters and power wheelchairs are ideal for everyday use. If you do not plan to use your mobility aid every day, a mobility scooter would be more appropriate for an as-needed basis.

  • Will you need to transport it regularly?

    The Vive Mobility Scooter can be easily broken down into 4 pieces and fit in most all trunks. In most cases, a power wheelchair will require special transportation, but our Compact Power Wheelchair folds up for convenient travel.
  • Do you have the means to transport your chair?

    Regardless of your choice, you’ll need to make sure you can safely transport your chair when necessary. Your logistics here can greatly influence your decision.

How Much Space Do You Have?

If you plan to use your power scooter or wheelchair indoors, you need to make sure there is adequate space. An average mobility scooter has a turning radius of about 4’ whereas a power wheelchair typically has little to no turning radius at all. If you are unable to clear enough space then a power scooter may be too large.

Consider Additional Add-Ons & Accessories

Did you know you can enhance both the comfort and convenience of any power wheelchair or mobility scooter, without breaking the bank? Add-ons and accessories are a great way to save money and skip over higher-priced models. Here are some that you can get.

See All Mobility Accessories

Consult Your Doctor

When in doubt, always consult with your doctor who can provide guidance and help you make an informed decision. They may even have access to resources for you.

Where to Buy a Power Scooter or Wheelchair

There are a handful of places where you can purchase or rent a power wheelchair or mobility scooter. Online stores have the largest selections but you may want to visit a local DME store to try one out before purchasing and we recommend checking with insurance to see if the cost of your chair can be covered.

If you’re looking for a power wheelchair with fully customizable options, consult a professional who can properly fit you for your chair.

SHOP MOBILITY SCOOTERS

SHOP POWER WHEELCHAIRS

Take Your Pick

After reading this article we hope that you have a greater understanding of each mobility aid and how they are designed to help with your mobility needs. If you have any more questions or are still unsure of which would suit you best, contact our product specialists today. Give them a call from 9 am and 9 pm EST daily at 1-800-487-3808 or email at service@vivehealth.com.

Sources:
https://www.karmanhealthcare.com/power-wheelchair-and-mobility-scooter-comparisons/

Jessica Hegg
Jessica Hegg

Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.



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