Power Wheelchairs vs. Mobility Scooters: What's the Difference?

Power Wheelchairs vs. Mobility Scooters: What's the Difference?

Posted by Susan T. on May 23rd 2022

Mobility impairments can be caused by age-related deterioration, injuries, congenital defects, and chronic health conditions. Reduced mobility can affect one’s quality of life and mental and physical health.

Mobility devices are designed to help people with mobility impairments live a happy, fulfilling life. They come loaded with safety, convenience, and comfort features that improve their ride quality. Different types of mobility devices have different capabilities. Some help users get around their homes, while others can be used indoors and outdoors.

Mobility scooters and power wheelchairs are two of the most popular types of mobility devices.

Power Wheelchairs vs. Mobility Scooters: Know the Difference

What is a Power Wheelchair?

Unlike a manual wheelchair that must be pushed, a power wheelchair, also called electric wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, or power chair, uses an electric motor for propulsion.

Power wheelchairs are typically used by individuals with traditional mobility impairments and those with cardiovascular or fatigue-based conditions. They have proved to be a blessing for people with medical conditions that affect muscle strength or limit overall movement.

There are several benefits to power wheelchairs. Since they do not need to be propelled manually, power wheelchairs can help combat user and caregiver fatigue. Power wheelchairs manufactured these days have a small turning radius that make them fit for use in tight spaces.

Power wheelchairs usually have four or six wheels. They come with a user-friendly joystick that allows the user to control the direction of their wheelchair. Most top-of-the-line power wheelchairs utilize high-quality, moisture-wicking fabric that promotes cross-ventilation, helping the user stay cool in hot weather.

Most power wheelchairs have padded cushions for enhanced back support. They come with rugged and long-lasting shock absorbing tires.

Power wheelchairs can be broadly classified into three categories:

Front wheel drive: In a front-wheel drive wheelchair, propulsion wheels are located in the front of the base, while casters are located in the rear. Their tight turning radius makes them fit for indoor and outdoor use.

Mid wheel drive: Propulsion wheels are located in the middle of the base. There is a set of casters each in the front and the rear. They are fit for indoor use, but may not be as effective as front-wheel drive wheelchairs when it comes to maneuvering over rough, uneven terrain.

Rear wheel drive: Their propulsion wheels are located in the rear while the casters are located in the front. These are great for outdoors as they tend to have more stable propulsion.

An Introduction to Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters are battery-powered devices. They usually have three or four wheels. A mobility scooter is controlled through a handlebar that can be used for steering. Many mobility scooters allow users to customize the height of their handlebar.

Mobility scooters come with a height-adjustable seat and armrests for enhanced user comfort and convenience. Many mobility scooters have a storage basket that can be used to carry everyday items. Mobility scooters manufactured these days disassemble in easy steps and can be brought on planes and cars.

Top-of-the-line mobility scooters boast the latest safety, convenience, and comfort features that make every ride safer and more enjoyable.

Mobility scooters come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Whether you have a lean physique or are taller and bigger than the average user, you will find the right mobility scooter that fits your specific needs and preferences.

Mobility scooters are very easy to use as you do not need a license to drive a mobility scooter or have it registered. Another added benefit is that they are allowed on public transport.

Mobility scooters make daily activities easier. They help users keep their independence and allow them to maintain an active lifestyle. Physical activity can improve one’s physical and mental health.

Mobility scooters can be broadly classified into the following categories:

Compact travel mobility scooters: These lightweight mobility scooters are easy to disassemble, which allows for hassle-free transportation

Mid-size mobility scooters: They come with large wheels and are designed for indoor and outdoor use. These wheelchairs disassemble in easy steps

Heavy-duty mobility scooters: These mobility scooters are designed for big and tall users. Some models can support more than 500 lbs. They utilize high-quality rugged materials and can withstand the elements

3-wheel scooters: 3-wheel scooters are easy to transport. They require less space than their 4-wheel counterparts

4-wheel scooters: 4-wheel scooters are more stable than 3-wheel scootersand also offer more foot space

Choosing the Right Type of Mobility Device

Here are some tips to decide if you need an electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter.

Assess Your Needs

➢Do you have a medical condition that affects muscle strength, coordination and motor skills? Consider a wheelchair.

➢People who intend to spend more time outdoors will want to get a mobility scooter.

➢If you plan to bring your mobility device with you when you travel, opt for a mobility scooter.

➢Working on a tight budget? Consider a mobility scooter instead of a power wheelchair.

Consider Add-ons and Accessories

Add-ons and accessories such as back support, armrest covers, seat cushions and attachable cup and phone holder can improve the usability of mobility devices. Many add-ons enhance safety and convenience, and can also help improve ride quality. Check what add-ons and accessories are available with popular electric wheelchair and mobility scooter models.

Research Models and Options

Research different electric wheelchair and mobility scooter types and models. Weigh their pros and cons and take the time to understand their features. Compare different wheelchair and mobility scooter models and see whether a mobility scooter or a power wheelchair offers all or most of the features you desire.

Mobility Masters is a renowned retailer of mobility devices. We help our customers make the right decision when choosing a mobility device. Have questions? Call (800) 936-7006.