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What Is the Difference Between a Mobility Scooter and a Powerchair?


Mobility scooters and powerchairs are often grouped together to differentiate them from traditional self-propelled, or pushed manual wheelchairs. There are however some fundamental differences between a mobility scooter and a powerchair.

Mobility scooters have three or four wheels and are steered using a bicycle style handlebar (or tiller) which requires two hands, and are designed to travel up to 35 miles. They are often used by people with limited mobility, or those who tire easily when walking. Depending on the model and type of mobility scooter, the scooter may dissemble into easy to manage components so that it can be easily transported in a car, or stored at home.

Powerchairs usually look more like traditional wheelchairs, and some models even look just like a traditional wheelchair with batteries and a motor attached to each wheel. The powerchair is driven using one hand by a joystick controller on the arm of the powerchair. Powerchair users tend to spend more time in their chairs than scooter users spend on their scooters. Because of this, powerchairs are usually more adaptable than disabled scooters and some models can have specialist seats and controllers fitted to suit the individual requirements of the user. For example, the powerchair can be controlled by hand, by a chin controller, or even using a sip and puff pipe operated with the mouth. The footrests can be specific to the user's needs and can include swing away or articulating footrests. Powerchairs are also more likely to be used inside although some powerchairs are equally capable indoors and outdoors. Mobility scooters are more likely to be used outdoors, although some of the smaller ones can be used indoors.

Electric scooters usually have one motor to drive the rear wheels whilst powerchairs have two motors to individually drive the rear wheels. This gives the powerchair a smaller turning circle which is ideal for indoor use, and provides a lot of traction and control. Some powerchairs even have the option of an electrically operated hydraulic seat so that the user can reach traditionally unreachable places like cupboards and shelves. Disabled scooters tend to be less configurable than powerchairs, and have fewer optional extras.

Disability scooters tend to be less expensive than powerchairs. Powerchairs have two motors, and better, more supportive seating as users often spend a lot of time in the powerchair. Powerchair users may not be able to support themselves, or be able to walk at all, and so their requirements are different from mobility scooter users.

Traditionally, powerchairs were not as easy to dismantle as mobility scooters, but this is changing and most of the powerchair manufacturers offer powerchairs that will fit into a car boot. Designs are constantly changing and improving, and powerchairs are becoming as easy to dismantle and as rugged as mobility scooters. Some powerchairs have six wheels for added stability, and some are front wheel drive for added indoor maneuverability.

Now that you have found out more about the differences between mobility scooters and powerchairs, you can decide which will best suit your needs.

 


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