When it comes to choosing a wheelchair or mobility scooter, there are many things to consider. Just like in our previous article on walking aids, the choice can often feel overwhelming when choosing a product to suit your needs.
Our staff, along with your therapist if you have one, can guide you when making this important decision. In this article, we highlight the uses, benefits and limitations of the different wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
- for people unable to walk a practical distance independently, efficiently or safely
A manual wheelchair can enhance your mobility whilst decreasing your falls risk. Wheelchairs are transportable, and most fold for easy storage. Lighter weight chairs are great for transporting.
They may be tiring to use and particularly so over rougher surfaces. The chairs need a wide enough space at home to ensure ease of access and turning. If your chair has not bee fitted to you, then it may increase the risk of shoulder, arm and wrist pain or injury.
- battery-driven chair
- customisable control interface to suit your needs
- multiple styles available with different drive wheels and seating options
Powered wheelchairs require less effort to operate than a manual wheelchair. They improve your ability to go over rougher terrain, such as grass, carpet and gravel. The tighter turning circles of powered wheelchairs mean they are easier to use at home plus out and about. With power, you can travel further than when using a manual wheelchair.
The weight of a powered chair can be quite heavy, and most are not easily disassembled for transporting; requiring a van with a ramp or lift to take outside the home. Powered chairs do require regular maintenance and repairs. Depending on your home environment, your chair, despite having a better turning circle than a manual chair, may not be able to navigate narrow halls or doorways.
- operate using a tiller system
- three or four-wheel options
- most can be disassembled for transport
- available in different sizes and for various weight capacities
- swivel seats can be useful to get on and off
- require reasonable control and coordination with your hands to operate
- seats, suspension systems, light options, tyre size and even battery size, are available!
Battery-powered scooters mean you can go further and use less energy than a manual chair. Easy to operate with hand throttles and steered by using a tiller mechanism. Most have a basket to help carry your bag or a light shopping load (be sure to double-check what your carrying capacity is so as not to overload your scooter). Three-wheel mobility scooters tend to have more legroom, which is useful for taller users or those with knee issues. They also have a tighter turning circle which makes them great for indoor use or in shopping centres. Four-wheel mobility scooters give a more stable feeling when driving and are suitable for outdoor use on rough or uneven surfaces.
Scooters can be quite long, which makes turning and getting around in small spaces difficult. It would help if you had good strength and control in your arms and hands. Seating options are limited and cannot be modified if your physical condition changes. If you have balance issues, it might not be easy to use the scooter safely. Some scooters are a bit tricky to disassemble and store in a vehicle. Narrow doors or hallways may also limit your use of a scooter at home.
You can try out all of the mobility aids in our showroom, at 2/1 Metier Linkway, Birtinya. We have accessible parking right at our front door.
If you only need a mobility aid for a temporary injury, we also offer equipment hire – see our hire prices.
Information adapted from https://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/Brochures/Brochure-How-to-Choose-the-Mobility-Device-that-is-Right-for-You.pdf, accessed 20 October 2020.