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Powerchair vs mobility scooter vs batec

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katwater51
katwater51 Scope Member Posts: 41 Connected
Hello I’m fairly new to this forum and new to mobility aids and I’d be grateful for any advice/opinions.
 
So I can move on my legs but only for small distances due to pain. I’ve been advised that using a powerchair or scooter could improve my quality of life by making it easier for me to get out of the house. 
So with help from my parents I’ve been to a mobility store and tried an electric power chair. It seemed good. But it also seemed like it would be tricky to carry personal items or small shopping items for example? 

On the other hand the wheelchair was able to go inside several venues due to it’s compact frame? Whereas it seems to me many shops are often not set up for mobility scooters (I’m thinking of my local post office with it’s tiny aisles!)

The other issue I have is pain down both arms - the powerchair might be better in this sense because I wouldn’t have to place my arms out in front of me onto the steering (like with a mobility scooter.)

Does anyone have any tips or preferences they’d like to share. I apologise if this is duplicating other posts also! Kat

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Comments

  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi there @katwater51 and welcome to the community, thanks for posting your query :) 

    As a powerchair user myself, I might be a little biased, but I'd definitely say it's better than a mobility scooter if you experience any kind of pain or fatigue in your arms.

    Storage and shopping can be an issue when out and about in the chair, mine had the option of coming fitted with a storage basket for under the seat, which for an add-on is well worth the cost.

    I also have a large bag which I attach to the back of the seat, and use to store my waterproof tunic in case it rains, and also any larger items. I tend to keep a handbag on my lap! 

    One other thing to bear in mind is that some power chairs can be taken apart and put into a car. The sections are quite heavy, so I need help with mine, but unless you have a hoist/ramp fitted, it's near impossible with a scooter.

    I hope this has helped a little in your search for a chair, what's important is that it's right for you, and allows you to be your most independent. Let us know how it all goes :) 

    Alex
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

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  • katwater51
    katwater51 Scope Member Posts: 41 Connected
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    Hi alex, @Alex_Scope
    thats such useful information, thank you. Thanks for all of your tips. Especially raingear - I hadn’t considered that. There are so many practical issues to think about. I’m leaning towards the powerchair. I live alone so I will be learning about this without anyone to help me if I get into difficulty.
    Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes 🙌
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Disability Gamechanger
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    Indeed, if you do have any other questions, please feel free to post them here :) 

    Something else you might want to consider is how easy it is to remove the battery (or batteries), which can  also be quite heavy!

    With some chairs, you must plug in the charger directly into the chair- which links to the battery, and in others, you can plug it into the battery, which might be removable! In practical terms, this makes storing and charging a chair much easier if the battery is chargeable separately.

    I look forward to hearing how things progress soon.
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

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  • Wibbles
    Wibbles Community member Posts: 1,787 Pioneering
    edited October 2022
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    I am in a similar position myself
    I have had a scooter for a few years - the leadacid batteries are in need of replacement now
    It is reasonably comfortable due to having suspension but the turning circle is large - so its not very manouverable - don't know whether you have considered borrowing one for a week to try ??
    Any decent supplier should let you do this - to allow you to trial in in the real world - since testing in the shop is not good enough
  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 634 Pioneering
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    I wonder if anyone can say how safe power chairs are going up and down kerbside slopes when crossing roads? It seems to me that they could easily topple backwards or forwards if the slope was steep. I presently use a mobility scooter, but feel a power chair would be more compact. Any advice would be welcome, as my scooter is at the end of its useful life and I am in the market for a replacement, but can't decide between a scooter (good on slopes) or a power chair (maybe not good on slopes. Thanks, Steve.
  • Poppy_
    Poppy_ Community Volunteer Host Posts: 192 Pioneering
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    Hi, I also have a power chair.  I have a seat belt on mine so I tend to have a backpack tied to the seatbelt and use it that way for storage and for ease of use when out and about. If I have someone with me, I also use the back handles to put bags on. I have the invacare TDX SP2 and while it isn’t as compact as some chairs for travel and is a direct charge, so I don’t remove the batteries, it is very good at kerbs, as it has kerb climber on it. I believe this is on most power chairs, as it helps keep the chair relatively level while going up/down kerbs, to avoid falling, etc. I do tend to only use smaller kerbs to do this, as the bigger ones scare me. 
    I hope this helps.
    Poppy_
    Community Volunteer Host with a passion for reading.

  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 634 Pioneering
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    @Poppy_ That advice has helped me enormously as I had no idea about the kerb climber. Thank you Poppy.
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Disability Gamechanger
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    Yes, that's right @Steve_in_The_City, my old power chair had a kerb climber, and it worked on the bigger/more steep slopes- even though as Poppy says it's quite scary!

    My current chair doesn't have a kerb climber, but it does automatically slow down on steep slopes to avoid any risky situations. It can clear steps of up to 6cm, but no higher. I hope that helps too :) 
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

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  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 634 Pioneering
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    Thank you all for your advice, I will let you know how I get on. I am not confident with kerbside slopes. I think a powerchair will be best for me, but I do not know. 
  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 634 Pioneering
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    Thank you for your sage advice. I think I will go for a powerchair. If it doesn't work out I will get a mobility scooter. I think having them both will give me the best of both worlds. Admittedly, I am very frightened of using  a powerchair, It is the slopes I get nervous about.
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Disability Gamechanger
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    At first it can take a bit of getting used to @Steve_in_The_City, I remember my tummy used to go funny with the general speed of the chair, but now I don't feel anything.

    Getting a chair with a seatbelt fitted might help while you get used to things, even just as a reassurance. It takes a bit of practice, but with practice, hopefully the slopes will become less of a fear for you :) 

    If you have someone to go out with for support, that might also help initially too! 

    I hope things go well with your search and any trials, if you do test any out before you buy, and are feeling brave, give a drop kerb a try and gauge how you feel.
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

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  • katwater51
    katwater51 Scope Member Posts: 41 Connected
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    Alex_Scope thanks for your advice again. So I tried the mobility scooter and tthought I was getting OK for a bit. I managed to do it while resting one elbow on the armrests.
    But it was very tiring trying to use my arms all the time and sure enough I’ve had a pain flare up, and the arms are quite angry now. So I’m thinking it was probably steering the scooter. 

    The other thing I found was that because my arm movements tend to be a bit jerky (because of the pain) it can translate into jerky steering. 
    Whereas the joystick-type control on the power chair was much more intuitive. And it was way easier to control the speed too. 
  • katwater51
    katwater51 Scope Member Posts: 41 Connected
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    @Alex_Scope @Poppy_ I’ve just thought of another question. When I hired the power chair, it had quite a low back on it. As I’m fairly tall, it wasn’t really supporting my upper back. So it made the whole thing harder work. Also the material that the seat was made out of was soft fabricy-type plastic; a bit like a deck chair if that makes sense.
    I plan to have a chat on the phone with some mobility shops this weej. 
    But anyway my question for you is - and again this is maybe an obvious question so sorry if you’ve answered this a million time before -  I assume there are models with better back support but do they cost more? 

    @St@Steve_in_The_City @st@Steve_in_The_City good luck with your trialling of the power chair. I relate to your worries. I was so stressed out the first time I took it out. I was afraid especially that I would stop on a zebra crossing or topple over on a kerb. I’ve learned even some of the adapted kerbs have big “jumps” on them. I think if you can ask someone to be with you for your first few trials that could be great? Might that be doable? I’m also lucky to be staying temporarily in a small town that I know really well - I know the road layout I mean. And it has some pedestrian areas. 
    I did hit the edge glass door of a shop. The adapted slope was so steep I was concentrating on it - and wasn’t looking to my left! 😂 I didn’t do any damage because I was barely moving but it made a loud bang. Suddenly everyone was alarmed and turned and stared at me. It was pretty embarrassing 😳😂
    Are you in a really urban area? That can be harder to try stuff out I imagine. 
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hello @katwater51 there's no need to worry, it's great that you're asking questions, it can be hard to think about all the practicalities sometimes! 

    In terms of chairs with higher backs, you'll have to 'shop around' as it were to see what's out there. I wouldn't know for definite if they are more or less expensive, but if I was making an educated guess, I'd say that chairs with more support/padding etc. would tend to cost more, as they are more specialised.

    I hope your chat with the mobility shops this week goes well, I often find it reassuring to talk things over like that :) 
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

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  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 634 Pioneering
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    @katwater51 @Alex_Scope It will be impossible for me to have someone accompany of my first trip or two (or thereafter), so should I decide to get a powerchair I will be careful. I am concerned about the lack of shopping I can get on a chair. I am also concerned that I will feel a tad restricted in a powerchair as I won't be able to stretch my legs out. Also, there is a very steep and high slope I have to get up to visit my favourite Greenspace. It is actually a road for emergency vehicles and rises to about the 3rd level of a typical building. My scooter has problems going up the slope; the engine finds it hard to manage. I am going to look in to hiring a powerchair if I can, then I can take it to all the places I currently go to and see how I get on.
  • Poppy_
    Poppy_ Community Volunteer Host Posts: 192 Pioneering
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    Hi,
    Backrests do change between chairs, as @Alex_Scope said. I have the invacare TDX SP2 and it is really supportive for my back and has a moulded cushion. My chair also has back handles, so I use that for shopping, but I also use my seatbelt to tie my backpack too, for ease of use. This may be something to look into with different chair models. I have also seen people using armrests and bigger versions of carabiners to hold multiple bags, as these can be clipped to the back. 
    I have done some more remote driving with my wheelchair and it seems to manage slopes and different terrains well, although I think it’s because my wheelchair has 6 wheels instead of 4, so it allows for more difficult terrains, such as cobbles. 
    I hope this helps. 
    Poppy_
    Community Volunteer Host with a passion for reading.

  • katwater51
    katwater51 Scope Member Posts: 41 Connected
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    Hi @Steve_in_The_City I’m sorry to hear it won’t be possible for someone to accompany you. Only because I found that it took a little bit of the pressure out of the situation for me. But you sound extremely capable and determined, not to mention experienced with the scooter. And you’re clearly doing your research. 

    In relation to the steep slope you need to travel, maybe the mobility salesman in the mobility shop would have technical information about whether the power chair can do that? Might help.

    I do hear what you saying about the amount of shopping that one can carry on a mobility scooter, and at first it seems like more than in an electric wheelchair. Although I’m not sure that in reality there is that much of a difference. I think it’s possible that the backpacks like Poppy has described above, could fit a reasonable amount of stuff. 

    My experience of the basket on the mobility scooter I hired was that it wasn’t that big. You may have a better one. But then I was able to place a bag of groceries in between my feet in addition to that.

    I think that the majority of my recent arm pain is probably more likely to do with fatigue from work. I’ve had a lot of emails to answer, it’s been really busy. The arms have no tolerance for it. And I haven’t been sleeping well. I think all of that has probably exacerbated the arm pain, rather than trying to steer the scooter. After all, I was able to rest my elbows on the armrests and I did a short trip. 

    But then if the purpose of us having the mobility aid is to help our quality of life, it’s probably not going to meet that purpose for me if it makes my arm pain worse… I don’t know. 

    @Po@Poppy_thanks for the info about your back support and how you and others use your backpack. Sounds like a solution that could work for me. Now I just have to figure out the costs involved. Carabiners! I hadn’t thought of those - genius! Thanks again

  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 634 Pioneering
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    @katwater51 Sorry to hear about your arm pain. It could well be too much typing at work. However, my hands and wrists and lower arms become a tad painful on longer journeys. So instead of using my right (dominant) hand to pull the right hand side lever back to move forward (if you see what I confusingly mean) I use the back of my index finger of my left hand to push the reverse left hand lever forward. This makes me move forward! Quite seriously, I always drive using one hand only, and swapping hands like this when my right hand is stiff and aching, does alleviate pressure.

    I don't have a local mobility shop, so I can't give a powerchair a trial. My scooter does have a large front basket and I have a very roomy backpack/rucksack (whatever they are called these days) strapped to the rear of the back rest on the seat. In addition, there is room on the running board to put a box of 12 beers between my feet.

    I did check out (on-line) some powerchairs from a well known company. Not one of them mentioned a kerb crawler. The one I liked was actually bigger than my scooter, so no gain in crowded shops with narrow aisles. If you decide to stick with a scooter please be aware that 4mph pavement scooters are easily dismantled and will fit in the boot of a car. Also, a very tall back with a headrest would make it difficult to see behind you, or to drop shopping in a bag attached to the rear. I read quite a few warnings about slopes and how to approach them, so I have eventually decided to buy a new scooter. I do see people on powerchairs who get on very well with them, and I believe they are very good at turning a full circle. I can only turn a full circle in supermarkets with reasonably wide aisles.

    So I have decided to buy a new scooter, but have found all the advice given very useful and has led me in to hopefully making the right decision. My present scooter is a little over 4 years old, and it only just gets me back home. I can no longer go to Islington (which is important to me) as the battery won't keep its charge. Neither can I do the jaunts that I used to do. I find it very restrictive to just tootle around locally.

    I went to my nightmare slope today, about a 5 minute ride away, to take a photo. I shall try and upload it. I took the photo from the top of the slope looking down. What you cannot see in the distance is another slope that gives way to another slope that in turn gives way to a steeper slope. Anyway, I hope you are able to find something that suits you. By the way, on some days I cannot walk at all and have to move around my flat on my scooter, but am fortunate enough to live in a large flat purpose built for a disabled person. If I did not have the luxury of space, then a powerchair would be ideal.
  • katwater51
    katwater51 Scope Member Posts: 41 Connected
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    Hi @Steve_in_The_City thanks for all the information in your post. 
    So I’ve been too scared to try your method of steering as I had a massive flare up, and it has run and run and run… I think I’m at 12/13 days. 😰
    But I hope today it might be a little eased off and I could give your method a go. 

    I think you're amazing to be giving a new aid a try out in Islington because I know the area a little and it’s so busy. The footpaths must be so crowded there?!

    Could I ask - you’ve mentioned your scooter is 4 years old and the battery won’t keep its charge. So - this may be a silly question - that means the battery itself isn’t replaceable on its own?

    Regarding your slope, when I tried the powerchair a few weeks ago I think I managed a steeper slope than that. But then the battery on the hire chair may have been new (or newish). 
    Thank you, Kat.
  • Poppy_
    Poppy_ Community Volunteer Host Posts: 192 Pioneering
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    Hi,
    great that you have decided the scooter for you. 
    The slope, that does look challenging but like Kat, I have also managed bigger slopes. 
    It’s a shame you couldn’t find any power chairs online. I have had trials of powerchairs from contacting the businesses themselves, and having them transport the chair to me to tryout, maybe this is something to look into, if you ever find yourself needing a change in aid again. 

    Poppy_
    Community Volunteer Host with a passion for reading.

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