First, you should understand that there are four basic types of mobility scooters:
Lightweight/Travel Scooters – models disassemble into 4 pieces for easy transport in the trunk of most cars. These scooters are the easiest to lift into the trunk with the heaviest piece weighing approximately 22 pounds. Sealed batteries also make them airline safe. The weight capacity of lightweight/travel scooters is generally 300 pounds.
Three-Wheeled Scooters – are a step up in size and features from the lightweights; they offer full-sized comfort with three-wheeled maneuverability. These work best for individuals who need to use a scooter inside and outside. These scooters have weight capacities up to 350 pounds and features like power-elevating seats.
Four-Wheeled Scooters – are best when individuals need maximum stability, or primarily use their scooters outside. These larger models have higher ground clearance and bigger tires for more rugged terrain, and can go as fast as 10 mph. However, the turning radius is wider and requires five feet to turn, so full-size models are not the best choice for indoor usage.
Heavy Duty Scooters – are for individuals who weigh more than 350 pounds, the weight capacity of some of these scooters is 500 pounds. Before you make your decision on which scooter is best for you, please consider the following factors:
Your Weight – Consider how much you and the type of packages you routinely carry will weigh. For example, you are a student who weighs 160 pounds, but you also carry as much as 25-30 pounds of books and papers. Your scooter has to carry it all.
Scooter Dimensions – Measure the halls in your home. Can your scooter turn around in the tight areas in your house? Are your hallways only 36 inches wide? The turning radius of most scooters is a minimum of 48 inches.
Scooter Transportation – Consider how you will transport your scooter. If you use a paratransit system, what does it require? Can you easily move the scooter in and out of your house? Most scooters do not easily disassemble. Is your home going to need a ramp? Do the pieces of the scooter fit in the trunk of the car you plan to use? Can you or a family member lift the pieces? For heavy duty scooters, are you going to need a lift for your vehicle?
The Seat – If you plan to remain in your scooter most of the time, you might want to upgrade the seat with extra padding. What about leg room if you are tall? You may need the seat raised for your comfort.
Left or Right Hand Drive – Most scooters use, or have both right and left hand controls, but some have one or the other. If you are left-handed, or your right side is weak, you may need to consider purchasing a scooter with a left-hand drive.
Once you examine all of these parameters then you need to consider accessories such as headlights, crutch holders, oxygen tank holders, and throttle extensions. Please contact The Ability Center with your questions. We do not sell scooters, but will happily assist you with making your choice.
Originally printed in The Ability Center of Greater Toledo’s InTouch newsletter.