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Electric Wheelchair vs Mobility Scooter: Which one is best for you?

Electric Wheelchair vs Mobility Scooter

For those with disabilities or mobility limitations, electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are fortunate innovations in assistive technology that provide them with a semblance of freedom and movement. These electronic mobility aids helped them move across different terrains without having to exert any effort aside from controlling the device with the use of a joystick or a control panel. 

To meet the needs of different users, both devices have safety features, ergonomic designs, and customizable features. Despite their similarities, there are still those who prefer one over the other.

In this blog post from Gilani Engineering, we’ll try to answer the question “Electric wheelchair vs. Mobility Scooter: Which one is best for you?”

What is an Electric Wheelchair?

Electric wheelchairs are motorized wheelchairs that help people with mobility issues, particularly those with limited mobility in their lower limbs and no upper body strength to operate a manual wheelchair.

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Advantages

An electric wheelchair has numerous advantages and is preferred by some people with disabilities. Pros of electric wheelchairs include: 

1. Flexible mobility

Electric wheelchairs are flexible and can travel across any other terrain. As such, it’s preferred by wheelchair users who want a wheelchair they can use both indoors and outdoors without having to rely on their physical strength.

2. Convenience

Electric wheelchairs are more convenient, easy to use and less physically demanding than manual wheelchairs since users can operate them with a joystick controller, control panel or other interfaces.

3. Long-distance travels

Since the electric wheelchair does not rely on the wheelchair user’s strength and stamina, it allows the user to travel long distances, provided the battery is fully charged.

Cons

Naturally, there are still some disadvantages to using an electric wheelchair which is why some people with disabilities prefer to use other mobility products. Cons of electric wheelchairs include: 

1. Cost

Some wheelchair users may find it difficult to afford an electric wheelchair because they are significantly more expensive, especially if the medical insurance will not cover the price difference.

2. Heavyweight

Another complaint by users about electric wheelchairs is its weight. Compared to other mobility products, electric wheelchairs are typically heavier which makes storing and transporting them more difficult unless it’s a foldable wheelchair.

3. Battery dependency

Since electric wheelchairs run on batteries, people with disabilities risk becoming stranded or unable to continue with their activities when the battery runs out and there are no power sources nearby to charge the chair.

What is a Mobility Scooter?

A mobility scooter is a mobility product that has a seat positioned on a platform with handlebars or a tiller for steering. Similar to electric wheelchairs, they are also battery-powered.

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Advantages

The pros of mobility scooters as a mobility aid for people with disabilities include:

1. Safety features

Mobility scooters come with different safety features like headlights (for visibility), automated braking, and anti-tip mechanisms (to avoid accidents) that guarantee the user’s safety while riding. 

2. Increased range

Compared to electric wheelchairs, many mobility scooters have longer battery lives enabling users to travel longer distances between recharges.

3. Storage and transport

For wheelchair users who have tiny spaces for storage or need to transport their mobility aids in vehicles, there are different models of foldable electric scooters that will take less space in storage or transport.

Disadvantages

Mobility scooters also have their disadvantages. Cons of mobility scooters are: 

1. Maintenance requirements

Regular maintenance of mobility scooters is necessary and could significantly rack up additional costs. Maintenance requirements for mobility scooters include changing damaged tires, replacement of faulty batteries, and repairs for electrical components. 

2. Weather limitations

Most mobility scooters are designed for fair weather and may not function effectively in bad weather conditions like rain, snow, or any adverse conditions. These mobility products are not advisable to use during high temperatures as well.

3. Size and manoeuvrability

Mobility scooters’ size make it difficult to manoeuvre in tight spaces. They can be heavy and challenging to operate in confined locations and small walkways. Not only is it inconvenient, it could also be dangerous for both users and bystanders.

FAQ

What is the difference between a mobility scooter and an electric scooter?

The major difference between the two is in its purpose. Mobility scooters are designed for people with disabilities, and those with limited mobility because of age or injury. Electric scooters on the other hand are designed as a transportation means for micro-mobility. 

Key takeaway

There isn’t a correct answer to which one is better, electric wheelchair or mobility scooter. The choice is still on the user depending on their preference, mobility, budget, and lifestyle. No use trying to decide which one is better because both innovations are truly important advancements in the field of mobility.