Scooters

 Power Wheelchairs

 Scooters are steered with a tiller which functions like a handlebar on a bicycle. There are 2 different drive types of scooters: rear and front wheel drive.  The most common controller in a power wheelchair is a programmable joystick however, many other methods of control are possible (sip and puff, scanning,, head movement, etc.) as power wheelchairs have sophisticated electronics to control their motors.
 Rear wheel drive scooters are capable of carrying between 250 to 350 lbs., depending on the model of scooter.  Heavy duty rear wheel drive scooters are available and can carry up to 500 lbs.  Power wheelchairs can accommodate more kinds of seating and postural support than a scooter. Some power wheelchair models have features like power stand, power recline, power tilt, and power elevation.
 Front wheel drive scooters have smaller 6" wheels and can carry up to 150 lbs.  Front wheel drive scooters are designed for indoor use or strictly on level pavement.  Power wheelchairs come with more tire and powerbase options. This means a model can be chosen that can handle more kinds of terrain--indoors or outdoors.
 Front wheel drive scooters usually have a single 12 volt battery capable of traveling 5 to 10 miles before recharging is needed.  In general, power wheelchairs have more maneuverability in small or tight spaces. Some can turn on their own center.
 Scooters are less expensive and can range in price from $1300 to $2300.  Prices have dropped recently but because of the range of features possible, the price can be highly variable. Prices can range from about $4,000 to $20,000.
 Most scooters have a variable type speed control knob so you can set the speed from 1 to 5 mph.  Power wheelchairs have a variable type speed control knob so you can set the speed from 1 to 5+ mph.
 Because the scooter seat sits on a column, scooters are less safe for use as a seat in a motor vehicle and their base usually makes them more difficult to tie down.  Power wheelchairs can accept a 4 point tie-down in a motor vehicle which could tend to make them safer as a seat in a motor vehicle.
 Batteries for most scooters are gel cell sealed batteries which are approved for transport.  Batteries for most power wheelchairs are gel cell sealed batteries which are approved for transport.
 Rear wheel drive scooters have 2 - 12 volt batteries capable of traveling 15 to 20 miles before recharging is needed.  Most electric wheelchairs are equipped with 2 gel cell 12 volt batteries capable of going 15 to 20 miles on a full charge over level terrain. These sealed batteries are approved for transport.
 Scooters can usually break down into parts for placement in the trunk of a car. They can also be handled with the assistance of a power or hydraulic lift mounted on the floor of the trunk or the back of a van.  Very few power wheelchairs breakdown for placement in the trunk of a car. Vehicles most always need to be adapted with a lift or ramps because they are too heavy to lift.

Go to WheelchairNet's directory of scooter and wheelchair manufacturer's

Last Updated: 3-2-2006

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Please note: This information is provided a archival information from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheeled Mobility from 1993 to 2002.

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