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Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of mobility vehicle is the key to making the right choice. We work closely with you to make sure you get the exact model that meets your needs.

Guide to choosing the power mobility vehicle that best meets your needs

Choosing between a Power Mobility Scooter and a Power Wheelchair

Important Considerations when Selecting a Power Mobility Vehicle
Whether a Power Mobility Scooter or a Power Wheelchair, qualifying for a power vehicle under Medicare requires that a person cannot complete their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) without the assistance of a power mobility device. Medicare further justifies the power device ONLY for use IN the home. Unfortunately, outside use does not enter into the consideration at all, even though this is where most people would look forward to using it the most.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Dressing - could include getting to clothes in closet and laying them out.

Eating -

would include meal preparation and moving into, out of and round the kitchen or small galley, getting to the table, etc. Would also include getting to and from a communal dining room in a group living situation.

Ambulating - walking is very limited, 3-4 steps at most due to respiratory, heart, nerve, muscle, balance or other neurological condition. Cane or walker does not suffice because of upper body weakness or other issues. Mobility is limited to “transferring” form one support object or surface to another.
Toileting - includes getting to toilet and transferring to it. Often bathrooms are small and or have tight turns requiring agility of a chair versus a scooter to get to the toilet or transfer pole or bar. Patient requires transfer poles in bathroom and scooter can’t get close enough.
Hygiene - includes maneuvering in and out of bathroom, like toileting, as well as ability to reach sink or shower.
Qualifying Conditions
Many conditions can qualify a person for a chair or scooter, and especially combinations of conditions. For example difficulties with Balance, Muscular Degeneration, Weakness, Tremors or Palsy, Post-Polio Syndrome, Dizziness, Paraplegia, Hemiplegia, Arthritis, Swelling of Lower Extremities, Unsteady Gait, COPD, CHF, Shortness of Breath, Severe pain or falls while walking, Significant Fear of Falling that Limits Their Activities, and so forth.
Finally, the person must also be capable of operating a power vehicle in the home, e.g., no dementia, physical ability to operate the vehicle, and the home must be able to accommodate it. That means that mobile homes and split-level homes are harder to justify. These may require a smaller chair or scooter, or that person spends all their time on only one level.

Our mobility experts would be happy to discuss these with you over the phone and arrange an in-home mobility evaluation and assessment and an in-home live demonstration and test drive, and to discuss the most appropriate vehicle for your situation. Simply call 888-848-0818.

How to Choose Between a Power Chair and Scooter
One big consideration might be if you need Medicare to pay for the vehicle. If so, you must meet all of the criteria noted above. Further, the narrow hallways and tight turns in most homes, especially mobile homes, actually preclude the use of a scooter, even a 3-wheeled one. From a purely practical standpoint, scooters may not provide the assistance you need to complete some of your ADLs such as toileting or hygiene or even meal preparation because they cannot get you close enough to the toilet or shower or into and out of the galley. Also, the individual must have greater strength and flexibility of the arms to operate the tiller on a scooter versus the joystick on a power chair.

And regardless of the considerations noted above, simply for safety sake, a power chair may be a better choice because of its greater stability, and the fact that when you are traveling forward and wish to make a turn, the joystick and computer within the power chair know you want to make a turn and deliberately slow the vehicle to a speed that is safe for the turn.

Scooters, because they are operated by a tiller, cannot sense or adjust to these conditions. They can be less stable on turns for this reason. And typically, there is much less damage to walls and doorways from power chairs, which are maneuverable enough to turn completely around in their own radius, than from scoters, which require a wider turning radius and oftentimes, backing up in narrow hallways.  

On the other hand, the small scooters are all designed to come apart into smaller, easy to assemble pieces that can easily fit in the trunk or backseat of even small car such as a two-door coupe. This can be an important feature if you  want or need to use your vehicle for trips outside the home. However, having said that, a small, inexpensive lightweight Transport Chair (or Companion Chair) that folds easily to fit in the back seat of vehicles may be the answer for out of home transport if the power chair is the clear choice for in-home use.
There are many choices. Some people complain there are too many. Again, our mobility experts would be happy to discuss these with you over the phone and arrange an in-home mobility evaluation and assessment and an in-home live demonstration and test drive, and to discuss the most appropriate vehicle for your situation. Simply call 888-848-0818.
Once you have narrowed your choice to either a power chair or power scooter, there are additional considerations within each of those categories. Please visit our Choosing a Power Wheelchair or Choosing a Mobility Scooter pages for additional information to help you make the best possible choice.
Let Us Help
We at Hometown are mobility experts and can help you obtain the right power mobility scooter or power wheelchair based on your needs and goals. We are also expert at handling the paperwork to help you qualify for payment assistance through Medicare or MediCal. Even if you do not qualify for assistance, we offer affordable time payment plans to help your purchase fit your financial means.
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