An Introduction To Medical Mobility Scooters
A mobility scooter is similar to an electric scooter or motor scooter in function and construction. However, additional power wheelchair type features and options make mobility scooters an excellent form of transportation for anyone who has good arm strength and upper body balance but needs occasional assistance.
Elderly people, and those who have progressive conditions that challenge their ability to walk, appreciate and benefit from the aid and convenience of a mobility scooter. Users of the mobility scooter can usually walk to some degree, but have greater difficulty with slopes and longer distances.
The first mobility scooter was built in 1968 by a Mr. Alan Thieme in Bridgeport, Michigan. Mr. Thieme created this front wheel drive scooter to assist a family member with multiple sclerosis regain some of their independent mobility.
The basic components of today’s mobility scooters are two rear wheels with a seat above them, a flat area upon which to put the feet that also holds the seat and power source, and a steering column with handlebars to steer either one or two front wheels. There are gasoline powered mobility scooters, though the majority of those manufactured are electric. The more popular electric mobility scooter runs with one or two batteries onboard the scooter. If you need more power to overcome steep hills and slopes, you will be better served with two batteries which will deliver more power than one. These batteries are charged with a standard charger that connects to a typical electrical outlet.
The steering column, located centrally at the front of the scooter, is referred to as the tiller. The tiller controls forward, reverse and speed controls with finger controls, a thumb paddle or a switch. Mobility scooters are available in front wheel drive or rear wheel drive. In general, front wheel drive mobility scooters will accommodate a rider up to 250 lbs. and are more convenient for indoor use due to their smaller size. Rear wheel drive mobility scooters can be used indoors and outdoors and will accommodate a weight of up to 350 lbs. There are also heavy duty rear wheel drive mobility scooters, which differs from the regular rear wheel drive mobility scooters in that it can accommodate riders up to 500 lbs.
Because scooters usually have automatic braking, coasting is not an option. You must use the finger, thumb or switch style controls to be in command of all movement. You will need to press and release the controls gently to gradually increase and decrease speed. There is usually a control that will allow you set the maximum speed for the scooter as well.
A mobility scooter will not be difficult to operate and control as long as you have adequate upper body strength and control and they can be broken down into parts quite easily making them convenient to pack into the trunk of a car for an outing with friends and family. Anyone with systemic or disabling body conditions that is still able to stand and walk a few steps, control the steering tiller and sit in an upright position without torso support will appreciate the assistance of a mobility scooter and the sense of independence it can provide.