Wheelchair or Scooter? Which is best for YOU?

20 Aug

I promised to write about Wheelchairs, so today I am going to tackle the subject.  There are so many kinds of Electric wheelchairs….many designs and Brands…but I am sticking to what I know…..My personal experience with Electric (Power) Wheelchairs.


My 1st Scooter, pre-1989


I have discussed Scooters.  Electric Wheelchairs (or Power Wheelchairs)  are different from scooters mainly by the fact that they usually have 4 to 6 wheels (most scooters have 3, although some have 4 wheels)  and resemble more closely what I call a “nursing home” wheelchair in seat design.  Some smaller Power Chairs (what I call “Jazzy” style)  have nice seats that are more like a “Bucket Seat” in an automobile. Scooters usually have handlebars and Power Wheelchairs are controlled by a joystick.

Giant Hibiscus, Freestyle Music Park, Myrtle Beach, Sc 2009

Giant Hibiscus, Freestyle Music Park, Myrtle Beach, Sc 2009

I could not have done an amusement park without a Power Chair

My first Power Wheelchair

When I decided that I needed to use a wheelchair more…inside my house as well as outside for shopping, attending church, etc…. I realized that I could not sit comfortably for long periods of time in my scooter…and the scooter was causing too much wear and tear on my arms.  So  I got my first Electric (Power) Wheelchair.   I was in a Medical Supply Store and a bright RED Electric Wheelchair caught my eye.  I could not have that one…I found out that you should  be measured  for a power wheelchair and they make one to fit only you! 

 Medicare approved my early request for the transition from my manual wheelchair to a Power Wheelchair.  (I had bought my first scooter outright) I could not move the Manual wheelchair at all by myself.  I had to be pushed at all times.  (Medicare usually will only buy a new wheelchair every 5 years or unless you have changed circumstances.  I don’t know if that is still the rule.  Medicare had not bought my scooter…my parents did that!….So the “last” wheelchair that Medicare had purchased for me was the Manual one) So I was measured, and my new RED Power Wheelchair came the week before Christmas.  For the first time in years I was able to sit through church or a movie without pain or extreme fatigue!  My new Power chair had a “joy stick” that I could use to control the chair instead of those handle bars that were on my scooter.  I think this chair was about $9000.00.  Medicare and my Medicare Supplement paid for this chair. 

Skip ahead about a year and a half…..I was getting weaker in spite of doing everything (well almost) my Physiatrist suggested.  I had always had problems with my back, after having severe scoliosis in childhood.  I had worn a back brace for a couple of years as a child to straighten my scoliosis….but we found in early adulthood that my spine would not bend at all, and I had to sit perfectly upright with my head supported.  I was getting very fatigued from just sitting up in the new wheelchair.  Movies were again off of my list of things I could do, and if I went to Church, that was “it” for the day…and most of the next day for me! Forget shopping or other activities….I would get severe fatigue after only a couple of hours.   My wonderful Wheelchair Seating Specialist suggested that I try to get approved (early again)  by Medicare to get a Recline/Tilt wheelchair so I could lie back and rest…therefore slowing the atrophy of the muscles that held me upright…..my “virtually fused” spinal column was practically doing the whole job of  keeping me upright because of  my severely weakened trunk muscles. 

I’ll discuss my different wheelchairs in subsequent posts……..Talk to you later…..


4 Responses to “Wheelchair or Scooter? Which is best for YOU?”

  1. Kathie Morris January 25, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    I am reading with interest this info on wheelchairs. At this time I use an inexpensive folding wheelchair that I can wheel around myself for a short while and my husband or a friend will push for any sightseeing or extended shopping. Thankfully I am able to walk around the house and even do the grocery shopping most days. at least I can if I hurry a bit. My condition is called spondylolisthesis and may stay fairly stable or may get worse. We just don’t know.

  2. lindaonwheels August 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    I know what you mean! I plan on starting a new subject on Pet Peeves. (My husband suggested it.) I just want to give it a catchy title, maybe something like: “And What does SHE want to drink?”

    My new Permobil actually has a lock on the controls. (Yes! The Swedish are SMART!) I have written about my Recline/Tilt chairs and will put the posts on the Blog soon. I don’t want to overwhelm those who are reading with too much info, too soon.

    NO ONE but my husband gets to sit in my wheelchair! And I reply to those who tell me that I am “lucky” to be riding instead of walking that I would LOVE to change places with them…..

    • jazzyroller August 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      One of my Jazzy powerchairs has a lock-out controler. This does come in handy sometimes.
      My wife is the only person I will allow to drive any of my chairs too. She brings the chair to me sometimes when I am faced with a difficult transfer. She teaches Special Ed. in the severe unit at our local high school. So, she really does know mobility equipment and how to help disabled people. She is going to teach just one more year and then retire and take care of me..can’t wait!

  3. jazzyroller August 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    I love your blog! I can relate to everything you say about wheelchairs. One thing that is on my mind pertaining to wheelchairs is how other people view and treat my chair. My wheelchairs are part of me. I depend on them for mobility and comfort. When a friend or stranger jumps in one of my chairs, and tries to use or play with it, I get very upset. Does this ever happen to anyone else who depends on a wheelchair? Am I just being selfish or too sensitive? There is a teenager who lives accros the street who bought an old manual wheelchair at a garage sale. He is as fit as Charles Atlas, yet he loves to play with this chair and do “wheelies”. I am sorry, but this is offensive to me. I would gladly trade him places. When he is through playing with his old clunker wheelchair, he dumps it in the garage and runs off to play with his friends. What do you all think?

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