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Mobility means independence – to go shopping, dine out with friends and keep up with your family.
If you’re challenged getting around, a scooter might be the right solution for you.
Mobility scooters - sometimes called POVs (Power Operated Vehicles) - are similar to power wheelchairs but have the appearance of a motor scooter. Scooters are operated by a control panel and are designed with bicycle-like handlebars mounted on a tall post called a tiller. Steering via a tiller requires some upper body strength and even the smallest scooters require more room to maneuver than a power wheelchair.
If you have decided that a mobility scooter is right for you, it's time to select the best one for you. But there are so many options – how do you choose the best one for you?
Ask yourself these questions to narrow down your search.
The most common seat found on scooters is chair-style, similar to seats found on boats. The basic seat is molded hard plastic or fiberglass, but most manufacturers offer a padded-seat option, usually with a choice of vinyl or fabric upholstery. Vinyl upholstery is frequently less expensive, but because it is slippery, it may not be the best choice if you have a challenge maintaining your position or balance.
Until recently, there were few seating options. Unlike wheelchairs, scooters didn’t offer custom seating or positioning settings. Manufacturers are now offering more ergonomically designed seats, lumbar supports and separate cushions. A limited number of manufacturers also offer custom design and fitting with positioning options similar to the ones on wheelchairs.
Seats are usually post-mounted to the center or rear of the base, and swivel up to 360 degrees with stops at every 90 degrees using a manual lever beneath the seat. A powered seat is a common option. The mechanism is usually controlled from the dashboard or control box and uses power from the battery to rotate the seat. Some powered seats also elevate, allowing greater access to counters, cupboards etc. As with most options, powered seats add to the scooter’s final cost.
Another consideration is the draw of power from the battery; frequent use of the power seat may reduce the scooter’s range. Some seats also allow for forward and rearward adjustment to better accommodate the user’s needs. In addition, some scooters are equipped with folding seats or seat backs and/or removable seat posts for transport or storage.
Armrests are another consideration in seating. Some scooters offer armrests only as an option; others offer standard fixed armrests with optional flip-up armrests. Regardless of the type of armrest, they are generally constructed of rigid plastic with padded upholstery optional, although some armrests feature a rigid plastic base with padded, upholstered inserts.
Whether or not armrests are padded and whether they are fixed or not should be determined by what you need to transfer to and from the scooter and whether the armrests will help with balance while seated. Padding may make it more difficult to grasp the armrests and fixed armrests may make it more difficult to transfer.
What’s the best scooter for you? Explore your options.