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Thread: How to choose between electric wheelchair and mobility scooter?

  1. #1
    New Member wobblywife's Avatar
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    How to choose between electric wheelchair and mobility scooter?

    Hi everyone

    I have a decision coming up and could use some practical and experienced advice to help me make it.

    For the last 2 years I have been a part time wheelchair user thanks to lower limb weakness from DDD and CRPS. I have (fairly impossible to control) chronic pain so even without the limb weakness it is painful to walk for more than a few steps. On good days I can manage half an hour in the town on elbow sticks as long as I'm prepared to forfeit the next 2 days in a lot of pain. I'm missing out on socialising and shopping, walking the dog, just normal everyday stuff.

    Social services were kind enough to loan me a normal self propelling wheelchair (they skipped giving me an assessment, which was disappointing and totally ignored that my husband is visially impaired) but as my arms are starting to weaken from the spinal problems, I can't push myself. To top this off, my husband is having to push me around when he himself is registered blind (he does have some vision but even a quick trip to town involves a lot of direction and it's way too much pressure on him).

    So, I am hoping I will recover but at the same time this is 15 years down the line from my first major problems and I'm running out of options to get fully mobile again. I need to get on with deciding whether to go for an electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter.

    The issues I have with the decision after reading online are these:

    1. If I were to have a mobility scooter, I'd want a portable/foldable one for storage reasons (small house, no garage, no car) and this brings problems surrounding independence as they won't do kerbs. Also having to have my arms extended for longer periods would be difficult. This is however the favourite choice of my teenage kids who expect me to "pimp" it up like Dizzee Rascal (lol).

    2. Electric wheelchairs can have a kerb climber, making me more independent, but won't be able to be lifted into the house and are very expensive. Also I already get funny looks when people realise I can physically stand and walk and am not paralysed, so I feel a bit wrong/offensive/rude for even considering one. I'm also not sure how much battery life they have compared to a scooter (eg. if we wanted to head off to the Metro Centre for the day).

    What I need out of either is independence from supervision without a high risk of falls, to be able to go in the shops and yet still be able to do things like kerbs or slightly uneven paving. Ideally I'd like it to be public transport safe (not just on limited networks). Where I live there are problems in the street such as cobbled joins between paths with a fair bit of unevenness, dropped kerbs only on one side of a crossing, etc. We don't have a ramp. I don't know how I can save my hubby from having to push me around or lift me around kerbs.

    This won't be for everyday use but I think I'm at the cusp of having to have one regardless because it's just too much for my husband to do when I can't walk. It's a shame we've got to this point as I was able to use my wheelchair as a rollator of sorts then sit in it when I'd done enough (ok more like too much) but it's just not fair on him now my arms are getting worse.

    I would really appreciate some ideas and advice.

    Kathy
    xx

  2. #2
    New Member wobblywife's Avatar
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    Oh I forgot to factor in that the journey to and from the city centre (we live within walking distance), is a steep slope. I hadn't thought of that!

  3. #3
    Hi Kathy, this is a difficult question I think! Neither option ever ticks all the boxes.

    Are you able to have a ramp at any door into your house? Do you have any outside space where you could have a shed or store?

    As far as batteries go, there is no clear rule that one will go further than the other, it depends on the battery (and there can be a choice of battery size with some chairs and scooters). In my experience all will manage a day out at a shopping centre. How far any of them go obviously depends on things like gradient and surface of pavement/path. I imagine the weight of the user will affect how much power is used as well. I have a small scooter; it's always coped with hills if I've been on concrete.

    I think that the RICA website is the best source of info about different models http://www.rica.org.uk/content/scoot...ed-wheelchairs. Disability Rights UK have a guide which I think will help you http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/ho...ons/get-mobile

    You really need to try and experience using both. A shopmobility centre will have scooters you can hire/borrow; ideally not just around a shopping centre but outside on some pavements, etc. I'm not sure how you could try a power chair; someone else may have suggestions. If possible try a scooter over a few hours so you can judge how your arms cope.

    It's worth checking the policy for local public transport and scooters as they're a grey area and whether they can be used varies. I asked my council to drop a couple of kerbs near my house, so if there is a crossing without a dropped kerb it's certainly worth asking. Scooters will cope with some unevenness. Also don't assume too much about a power chairs ability to manage kerbs; again you will need to try this out.

    I currently use a power chair for work, and a scooter when out and about. Both have their pros and cons, it's a very individual question to weigh it all up!
    Last edited by Fliss; 11-27-2014 at 04:58 PM.

  4. #4
    New Member wobblywife's Avatar
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    Hi Fliss

    Thanks ever so much for the advice. I've been so back and forth on this and have buried my head in the sand a bit until yesterday when I had to be in the town for appointments (on sticks) then had to come home for an hour and get back out to parents evening, by which point I couldn't walk any more and my (poor) husband had to try and manoeuvre me in the wheelchair in very low light conditions and the peeing rain. I've got to the point where I will avoid going out because I feel guilty that I need help or will have to literally come home after a coffee and cut the day super short.

    Near us there's a centre called Disability North and I believe they have loads of equipment to try out, including an outdoor area to try them out on. I think what puts me off is I don't feel like I'm disabled enough to take up these services, there are so many people so much worse off than me. I know I'm being silly.

    Maybe first step a go at Shopmobility like you said, then if that goes okay (or doesn't lol) then I'll ring Disability North. I have to get my independence back because I'm just not doing right by my family if I don't.

    Thanks again

    Kathy
    xx

  5. #5
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    wheelchair

    Quote Originally Posted by wobblywife View Post
    Hi everyone

    I have a decision coming up and could use some practical and experienced advice to help me make it.

    For the last 2 years I have been a part time wheelchair user thanks to lower limb weakness from DDD and CRPS. I have (fairly impossible to control) chronic pain so even without the limb weakness it is painful to walk for more than a few steps. On good days I can manage half an hour in the town on elbow sticks as long as I'm prepared to forfeit the next 2 days in a lot of pain. I'm missing out on socialising and shopping, walking the dog, just normal everyday stuff.

    Social services were kind enough to loan me a normal self propelling wheelchair (they skipped giving me an assessment, which was disappointing and totally ignored that my husband is visially impaired) but as my arms are starting to weaken from the spinal problems, I can't push myself. To top this off, my husband is having to push me around when he himself is registered blind (he does have some vision but even a quick trip to town involves a lot of direction and it's way too much pressure on him).

    So, I am hoping I will recover but at the same time this is 15 years down the line from my first major problems and I'm running out of options to get fully mobile again. I need to get on with deciding whether to go for an electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter.

    The issues I have with the decision after reading online are these:

    1. If I were to have a mobility scooter, I'd want a portable/foldable one for storage reasons (small house, no garage, no car) and this brings problems surrounding independence as they won't do kerbs. Also having to have my arms extended for longer periods would be difficult. This is however the favourite choice of my teenage kids who expect me to "pimp" it up like Dizzee Rascal (lol).

    2. Electric wheelchairs can have a kerb climber, making me more independent, but won't be able to be lifted into the house and are very expensive. Also I already get funny looks when people realise I can physically stand and walk and am not paralysed, so I feel a bit wrong/offensive/rude for even considering one. I'm also not sure how much battery life they have compared to a scooter (eg. if we wanted to head off to the Metro Centre for the day).

    What I need out of either is independence from supervision without a high risk of falls, to be able to go in the shops and yet still be able to do things like kerbs or slightly uneven paving. Ideally I'd like it to be public transport safe (not just on limited networks). Where I live there are problems in the street such as cobbled joins between paths with a fair bit of unevenness, dropped kerbs only on one side of a crossing, etc. We don't have a ramp. I don't know how I can save my hubby from having to push me around or lift me around kerbs.

    This won't be for everyday use but I think I'm at the cusp of having to have one regardless because it's just too much for my husband to do when I can't walk. It's a shame we've got to this point as I was able to use my wheelchair as a rollator of sorts then sit in it when I'd done enough (ok more like too much) but it's just not fair on him now my arms are getting worse.

    I would really appreciate some ideas and advice.

    Kathy
    xx
    First off, get your GP or consultant to get you a referral to Wheelchair services.......tell them you needs have changed and repeat every you said here - inc. the fact your hubby can't be "wheelchair fairy". you may have to go the voucher route and part pay - but there are grants you can apply to
    A electric wheelchair controlled by a joystick requires very little movement of the arms. Your arm is resting on the arm of the chair and joystick is controlled by your fingers of one hand.
    2nd: don't give a stuff what ppl THINK, you know the FACTS!
    3rd: both scooters and electric chairs DO do drop kerbs - you learn to look on street view on google and find the best route
    I dunno how steep, yout hill is or how long, only the manufacturer could help on that one.
    Storage is a bugger....but if you need it you need it.
    Mine is a hybrid and will do 8 miles. Think 4 there, 4 back.........and thats plenty shopping; even in the Metro centre!

  6. #6
    Go and talk to them! No one is going to judge you and say that you shouldn't - so don't worry about what any one thinks. I'm sure they will help you think through storage, where you will charge it, etc.

  7. #7
    New Member wobblywife's Avatar
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    Thanks both of you, you have been really helpful and it's really kind of you. I reckon I could fit a powerchair in the lower hallway if I moved the dryer. Otherwise we have a big living room so if whatever I chose could fit through a standard internal doorway there's there too. We have a driveway but aren't allowed a shed at the front and there's no access to the back garden apart from through the entire downstairs of the house so I think that'd be the best we could do unless it dismantled. I'll get in touch with Disability North, and thanks again xx

  8. #8
    It's also important to think about how you would carry things such as shopping. One of the deciding factors for me when choosing between a chair or scooter is that I struggle to twist and bend so it would be difficult for me to carry shopping on a chair.

  9. #9
    A Powerchair is not the same as an electric wheelchair. It is larger, heavier, and the majority are not able to be dismantled, whereas electric wheelchairs can be. Also, kerb climbers really do not do what they say.

    A scooter, especially a foldable one which will fit into the boot/trunk of a car or taxi, is a much better idea. Regarding kerbs, if you are able to actually stand, even for just a few minutes, small scooters can easily be lifted up and down from kerbs. And if you do not weigh too much, they can also be lifted up and down with you sitting on it - because there is usually someone around who will see you and help.

    I have both a small scooter and an electric wheelchair, both of which serve different purposes - also a very large road scooter. But I would never buy what is known as a powerchair as it would not, could not, take the place of either my small scooter or my chair.

    In addition, if you are out alone using a powerchair, you are far more likely to get The Stares from ABs, whereas on a scooter you are mostly left alone and not looked on as a freak.

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