December 7, 2016

How to Choose Between a Power Scooter and a Power Wheelchair

Power Wheelchairs at PA Healthcare

Even though it’s still sunny and warm in San Diego, there’s no denying that the holidays are coming upon us quickly. If you have a loved one with limited mobility, why not share the gift of independence by giving them a mobility device? By giving your loved one a power scooter or power wheelchair, you’re not only saying, “I love and care about you,” but you’re also saying, “I want you to have the best quality of life possible.”

But what exactly is the difference between power scooters and power wheelchairs, and how do you know which one is the best choice for your loved one? Take a look below at some of the differences:

What is a power scooter?

A power scooter is a mobility aid similar to a wheelchair but configured like a motor scooter. It has a seat placed over three or four wheels, with a flat area or foot plate with no-slip grip for your feet, and handlebars at the front for steerage and speed control. It is battery powered and charged via an onboard or separate battery charger unit.

The power scooter’s steering mechanism requires upright posture, shoulder, arm, and hand strength, and upper-body mobility. It has fewer options than the power wheelchair for upper body support and should only be used by someone who can sit upright on their own for long periods of time.

A power scooter is the perfect choice for someone who is able to walk and stand for small periods of time but still needs a little help moving around.

What is a power wheelchair?

A power wheelchair is similarly powered by an electric motor or battery but is generally four or six-wheeled with a wider base and able to support larger amounts of weight. Controllers are arm-rest mounted joysticks and can be customized with additional controls to tailor individual needs. Seating options vary in design with options for extra padding, weight adjustment features, and back stabilizers.

A power wheelchair can drastically improve the quality of life for those with significantly limited mobility, fatigue, or cardiovascular issues.

Power scooters are more portable than power wheelchairs

Power scooters can be collapsed and tucked away in your home or placed in your vehicle with little help and without the specialized vehicle mount or lift that power wheelchairs require. Power wheelchairs can be disassembled, but this takes time, patience, and will require outside help.

Power wheelchairs cannot be collapsed down for easy transport and this, combined with the heavier weight, makes transportation one of the biggest obstacles for anyone who owns a power wheelchair.

Power wheelchairs have better maneuverability than power scooters

Both power scooters and power wheelchairs can be used on uneven surfaces, inclines, declines, but power wheelchairs offer drive customizations (like forward and rear-wheel drive) that are good for longer distances and outdoor areas. Additionally, because of their shorter frame and better suspension, power wheelchairs have more maneuverability around tight corners, despite their increased weight and bulkier frame.

If your loved one is a frequent park or beach visitor, or uses city streets on a daily basis, then a power wheelchair might be a better fit for their lifestyle.

What is the cost difference between power scooters and power wheelchairs?

Your health and mobility should come first. That said, power scooters are the less expensive choice. But if your loved one requires significant assistance with balance and mobility, then it would be better to invest in a power wheelchair despite the higher costs.

Still can’t decide? Give us a call

The true value of any mobility device is that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. If you’re still not sure whether a power scooter or a power wheelchair is the best choice for your loved one, PA Healthcare can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our representatives. We are here for you, and we wish you and your loved ones a happy healthy holiday season.

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