In many urban streets, shopping malls and public parks, mobility scooters are becoming a common sight.
Mobility scooter is a single occupant power-powered transport vehicle and is used as a mobility aid. This assistive device is controlled through a mechanical tiller system. Some have 3 wheels; others have 4 wheels.
The U.S. Department of Justice, in its revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), categorizes this assistive device under the category “other power-driven mobility device.” According to the Department of Justice, establishments must also allow people with disabilities who use other types of power-driven mobility devices into their facilities, unless for legitimate safety requirements, a specific type of device cannot be accommodated.
The largest demographic group to use mobility scooters is the elderly population. Here are the top reasons why this technology become popular among older adults:
- Increase participation
A 2010 study by May, Garrett and Ballantyne showed that this mobility aid was used chiefly for getting to and from shops and visiting friends and family. The study also showed that this mobility aid was used 3 to 5 times each week and travelled between 2 and 5 kilometers from their home.
- Improved design
The popularity of this device is hastened by technological innovations. Both the prowler 3-wheel mobility scooter and
prowler 4-wheel mobility scooter, for instance, have a maximum cruising range of 7 miles per hour and a top range of 23 miles. They are also equipped with safety features like anti-tip wheels, headlight, rearview mirrors and turn signals.
- Improve quality of life
A 2005 study by Mortenson et al. reinforced the value of power mobility in facilitating quality of life.
Another study in 2007 by Hoenig et al. showed that scooters were used 4 or more days per week. The Hoenig et al. also found an increase in social activities participation outside the home. Previously, scooter users had been unable to access these social activities.
The use of this technology has shown to improve self-esteem, improve mood, increase assertiveness and increase autonomy.
- Alternative to driving a car
While there are many similarities with driving a power-powered vehicle to driving a car, there are big differences though. Both are closely linked to independence. Both also require cognitive, visual, perceptual and motor skills. However, because the speed limit of a mobility scooter is lower (7 miles per hour in the case of prowler scooters), many of those who cannot drive a car can still drive a scooter.
Driving this medical product is advisable only to those who can do or capable of doing the following:
Walk independently even for short distance only;
Can sit down and stand up from a chair without assistance;
Has enough strength and coordination in the arms to control the tiller mechanism; and
Has good balance and good trunk control while sitting.