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Mobility Scooters vs. Electric Wheelchairs: Knowing the Difference

Posted on: April 9th, 2013 by LAMedicalBlogger

Both mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs have similar end results; they are both used for safe and comfortable mobility. Many people use the terms interchangeably and confuse the two product groups. There are many differences that make choosing the correct one very important. The mobility and seating experts at LA Medical can work with you, your physician and your therapists to determine which device best fits your needs.

If you enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors, then a mobility scooter may be right for you.

If you enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors, then a mobility scooter may be right for you.

Mobility scooters are designed for short-term, temporary purposes. Short term and temporary means as you recover from an injury and how long you use the scooter on any given day. They are considered more for assistance when the user is mobile, but can’t walk for long without tiring.

Electric wheelchairs are designed for people who sit the majority if not all day. Electric wheelchairs offer more support for posture and more specialized cushioning in the seat. People with spinal cord injuries and many other challenges use electric wheelchairs, not scooters.

Mobility scooters are not designed or built to be as complex and are usually much lighter. Scooters are always designed to be easier to collapse for simple transport. Most scooters are carried on the back of the vehicle with the person riding in the vehicle.

Electric wheelchairs are normally built more solidly with more complex features. They can be broken down for transport, but the majority of times the person remains in the chair inside the vehicle. Vans can be modified so the person using the wheelchair can drive the van; this is not true of scooters.

Scooters are built lighter making them easier to move more frequently. But their lighter weight means they are less stable on uneven terrain (lawns, hills, rocks, etc.).

Steering and control in a mobility scooter is more like a bicycle. The driver’s arms are extended to the steering handle and hand brakes are normally used. It requires better range of motion and upper body strength.

Electric wheelchairs are controlled by a joystick that is pre-programmed. They can be located on the left or right arm of the chair.  Controllers can be modified to respond to work with head movement and a “sip and puff” device for people with more complete paralysis.

Now that you know about the two groups, we invite you to see some of the choices available in our online catalog. We encourage you to come in for a “test drive” soon and let the seating experts at LA Medical tell you more.

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