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Mobility Scooter vs. Electric Wheelchair – Which Should you Choose?

When it comes to making the decision to purchase a mobility device to assist you or a loved one, it can quickly become overwhelming. While both mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs serve similar purposes to aid in mobility, their usages can differ depending on the rider. We’ve designed this short overview to help guide you in picking the correct mobility device for you.

After reading this guide, speak to your doctor if you’re still unsure if a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair is right for you. Your doctor can evaluate your physical condition and motor abilities to help you make the best decision for your individual needs. Let’s begin with the basics!

What are Mobility Scooters?

Mobility scooters are devices that allow those with physical mobility issues to navigate freely and regain their independence. These battery-powered devices come with a dashboard which mounts to the handlebars.

This dashboard and various controls allow the rider to precisely control their driving speed and the direction of which they are moving. Mobility scooters are available in several different options, including both travel, foldable, heavy-duty, and 3 or 4-wheel options.

Pride Raptor Mobility Scooter Black

What are Electric Wheelchairs?

Electric wheelchairs are similar to traditional wheelchairs, except they operate via an electric motor. Electric wheelchairs are also referred to as power wheelchairs. Most electric or power wheelchairs have either four or six wheels.

Electric wheelchairs are generally for people who need a wheelchair but lack the motor strength to operate one themselves. In general, electric wheelchairs are for individuals with more serious mobility issues.
Pride Jazzy EVO-613 Electric Wheelchair Front

Electric wheelchairs utilize joystick or touch controls, to make operations as easy as possible for those with no or little motor control. In contrast to the tiller-based system of which mobility scooters operate.

Which Option Should you Choose?

Mobility Scooters are appropriate for people who...

  • Are still able to stand and/or walk a few steps. This is because some bodily control is required so that the driver remains seated upright without torso support and control the basic steering tiller.
  • Have chronic or whole-body conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and more.
  • Can walk, but struggle with walking long distances or feel like they often cannot keep up.

Electric Wheelchairs are appropriate for people who...

  • Have very, very little mobility or no mobility at all
  • Seek precise mobility to navigate indoor spaces via joystick like controls
  • Need assistance travelling long distances

Differences to Consider

Though mobility scooters and power/electric scooters are quite similar, they do have some distinct differences. Power wheelchairs provide increased stability, can run on rougher surfaces and terrains, navigate tight spaces, and easily operates by those with limited mobility.

Power wheelchairs may offer more seating options and ability to customize wheel styles over mobility scooters. Electric scooters may require more frequent regular maintenance and frequent changing of batteries.

In contrast, mobility scooters are better for those with lesser mobility issues. Advantages of mobility scooters are that they are both speedy, easy to transport, and can be operated by almost anyone.

However, they may be less stable on certain terrains over a powered wheelchair. Depending on which style or brand you choose, they may have limited miles able to drive on a single charge. Some scooters are mostly for indoor usage, however outdoor terrain scooters are also available.

Some factors to consider when deciding between a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair include level of individual mobility, appearance, and ease of transport.

Individual Mobility

One of the most important considerations when determining whether to purchase a mobility scooter or an electric wheelchair is about your individual mobility abilities. Power wheelchairs offer more customization for the base, seating, and drive mechanism.

For those with little or no mobility, this is desirable. Power wheelchairs also offer other options such as head arrays and elevating seats. Your decision to purchase a power wheelchair or a mobility scooter should be mostly based on your individual needs.

Appearance

Scooters provide a more attractive appearance than power wheelchairs. They’re designed to look less like a mobility device and more like a motorcycle or like a vehicle driven for fun. For some patients, their willingness to use a mobility device is based on its appearance and how they feel in it.

Mobility scooters are available in many different attractive colors and styles, which is something to consider if you or your loved one is self-conscious about riding a mobility scooter. Based on their medical and physical condition, some people will need a power wheelchair regardless. However, for those with some mobility, scooters may be a better choice for aesthetics.
EWheels EW-75 Mobility Scooter Silver

Ease of Transport

There are many mobility scooters available that easily disassemble and assemble for transport. Each individual piece is built to be as lightweight as possible. This ease of transport makes mobility scooters attractive for those who want to take their scooter along to parks, airports, malls, and more!

Mobility scooters can easily fold up and be placed in the trunk of your car. Electric wheelchairs may be more difficult to transport. Though there are a variety of different options available, they may not break down as easily as a motorized scooter.

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