Thursday, March 8, 2007

Giving Mobility

We can’t tell you how many people come in wondering about whether it’s a good idea or not to get Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa a scooter. The prospect of getting them out and about again sounds great. The idea that s/he will be "driving" (again, in some cases), causes some concerns. Do you go for big or small? Three-wheel or four? What about one just for inside the house?

So, let’s consider the electric scooter. Keeping with our history theme of late…The earliest designs for scooters were in the late 1800s as the bicycle began to emerge. Patents first appeared in 1921. The emergence of powered vehicles for those with disabilities follows nearly a parallel path with early research on the bicycle and also dates to the 1800s. Today’s versions of power-operated scooters to enhance independence have design features and functional options that rival the slickest of vehicles on the market. We even found one that looks like a motorcycle!

There are three-wheel scooters and four-wheeled. And travel sizes that pull apart in three pieces for easy transporting in car trunks and airplanes. These small models are common for those who spend most time indoors, at home, shopping, or vacationing on cruise ships! (See Mary’s story about her cruise, the one she almost did not take because she could not walk long distances and thought she would just not have a good time.) For those who love the outdoors try the hefty models that can maneuver hiking paths and cobblestones. (See Roy’s story. He had not been camping or fishing in years since his knees gave out a while ago. He went this summer on his new Celebrity X!) Sizing and seating accommodate those of every shape and weight. And colors galore! There is a new model out with colored shrouds you can change depending on your mood. Accessories include headlamps, baskets, horns and covers for all types of weather. For the racer in you, choose the one that juices up to 12 mph!

Choosing which scooter works best, however, is more than a matter of taste. When it comes to enhancing mobility there are several key factors to consider.
• What physical condition are you in? What illness or injury is affecting mobility? Is it temporary or degenerating? You want to choose a vehicle that will give you enough flexibility to adjust to your physical changes over a period of time.
• Where do you plan to use the vehicle? If indoors primarily, you want something with a sharp turning radius to maneuver easily through doors and around furniture. (Look at some options.) Outdoors, you need something with bigger wheels and the ability to withstand surface irregularities.
• What feels most comfortable and natural to you? It is important that you test drive scooters. Feeling comfortable is important to driving safely. Having the ability to adjust for seat width, height, reach, and speed are features you simply cannot determine by looking at a picture.

Tell us your “mobility” story. Whether you use an electric scooter or the one-legged kind of youth!

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