Mobility Scooter Vs Power Wheelchair – How to Choose?

The needs of the user should be the most important factors considered when choosing between a mobility scooter and a power wheelchair. Here are a few questions to ask. Be sure to also consult with a physical or occupational therapist.

  1. What type of mobility device would be the easiest for the user to maneuver?
  2. Is the device primarily for indoor or outdoor use?
  3. Does the user reside in a spacious home, apartment, or assisted living facility?
  4. Will the user be operating the vehicle for extended periods?
  5. Is the portability of the scooter/wheelchair a concern?
  6. Does the cost of the vehicle matter?
  7. The weight of the user?
  8. Is speed important?

1. Users with limited upper body mobility will find that steering a motorized wheelchair much easier than that of a scooter. The controller is located on the arm rest and only requires a flick of the wrist to activate. Mobility scooters should only be used by individuals that are able to steer the vehicle and don’t have a condition that would not allow them to do so in the near future.

2. There are wheelchairs designed specifically for outdoor use but operating a 4 wheel scooter is by far the better option for tackling tougher terrain. This decision will often depend on user preference.

3. Power wheelchairs typically perform better in tight spaces and can turn on a dime. Scooters are also very maneuverable but not to the degree of most power chairs.

4. Users that operate the mobility device for extended periods may prefer one or the other (user preference). Scooter users have more room to stretch and move their legs. Wheelchairs with tilt-in-space functionality may be another option for individuals that need to make weight adjustments.

5. Wheelchairs generally weigh a bit more than scooters and therefor may be harder to load into a car or van. Users often require the help of a ramp or lift.

6. Power Wheelchairs typically cost more than scooters.

7. Bariatric wheelchairs are often necessary for individuals weighing more than 300 lbs. Heavy duty scooters are also an option.

8. Most standard mobility scooters will travel faster than wheelchairs however there are a number of wheelchair models that have been designed for speedy travel and can get up to 11.5 MPH.