Updated: Oct 12, 2019
The debate of whether to get a mobility scooter or wheelchair when suffering from a PGCT, and/or Fibromyalgia, and/or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis has been a hot topic lately.
I have been asked on several occasions, by multiple people, why I chose the wheelchair over a scooter, "a wheelchair is so much more disabling looking compared to a scooter" is just one example of some comments I receive.
Statements like the above are not uncommon, and I understand why some may think a scooter looks less disabling compared to a wheelchair, but you have to take into consideration why you need it, how you will be utilizing it, and when you will need to use it.
My husband and I went with the Travel Buggy City Wheelchair, instead of a mobility scooter, because it seemed to fit our life style better. We also went electric because a manual wheelchair is too hard on my body due to my ME/CFS which I believe I developed due to years of chronic pain and suffering from my PGCT. I need to conserve as much energy as possible on a daily basis, in order to avoid "crashes".
We live in a remote community, so if we want to go anywhere (grocery shopping, out to a friend's house, parks, etc.,) travel is necessary by vehicle. If I wish to accompany my husband on an outing he has to bring my mobility device in the back of our truck. That means I have to wheel my way down to our vehicle, have my husband lift me out of my chair into the truck, and then have my husband lift my mobility device into the box of our truck.
Mobility scooters were too heavy and cumbersome for my husband to lift up and down into the back of our truck.
The portable mobility scooters that were available were not made from best quality products and had a lot of plastic components.
After speaking with multiple airlines they informed us that the travel scooters tend to break and crack more often during storage and flights (due to their plastic components) than the aluminum alloy travel wheelchairs.
My husband and I do a lot of travelling so ease of access, durability, and lightweight components were all a must for a mobility device for me.
After saying all that, this is why we went with a wheelchair over a scooter:
- The Travel Buggy Wheelchair weighs only 46 lbs;
- my husband can lift and maneuver it without fear of hurting himself or our vehicle;
- it is airline approved so I can travel without my husband's assistance, if I need to, and it makes travelling that much easier;
- it has large back wheels so I can go up and over bumps, rocks, sand, and curbs;
- it is made of aluminum alloy (not plastic) so it withstands bumps and hits in the back of the truck; as well as, it withstands breakage of components while driving over rougher terrain.
All-in-all, a wheelchair made more sense for me because I am not a stationary person, my life is still go-go. Plus, I needed something lightweight and compact enough to not only fit in a truck or a car, but also to maneuver around my apartment without hitting the walls or getting stuck turning in small spaces. My Travel Buggy City wheelchair has a sharper turning radius than any mobility scooter we looked at, that was a bonus!
As well, I recommend getting lithium ion batteries no matter what mobility device you purchase!
Lithium ion batteries withstand the elements much better than regular lead-acid batteries (you don't lose as much power in colder climates), they have a longer life span, greater distance between charges (compared to regular lead-acid batteries), you can completely discharge and recharge the battery without causing damage, and it provides more even power than traditional batteries (so less wear and tear on the motors of your mobility device).
If I lived in a bungalow, in a city, with everything nearby, then I wouldn't see the need for such a compact durable mobility device. In all honesty, I probably would have gone with the King Cobra Mobility Scooter which weighs 363 lbs and does not come with lithium ion batteries; unfortunately, it was not very travel friendly.
The mobility scooters are great for anybody who lives in town, doesn't plan to air travel or car travel, has the ability to park their scooter inside their home, and only uses it when they need to go out.
The King Cobra Scooter is very large and doesn't have an amazing turn radius. That said, it was my favorite mobility scooter due to the distance you get on a single charge, the comfort of the scooter itself, and how well it was built.
Circumstances, that's what you need to take into consideration when purchasing your mobility device. These are the questions I came up with to ask myself and my spouse/caregiver;
1) Why do I need it? (Do you need it to walk around your home or do you need it to help conserve energy when you go out in the town to avoid a flare up/crash);
2) How will I use it?
- Will it help get me around my home (if so, you want to think compact and turn radius)?
- Or, will I only be using it when I go outside (if so, think about the terrain you'll be wanting to venture over)?;
3) What kind of terrain do you want to have the ability to use with your mobility device with; sand, rocks, grass, curbs, or asphalt?
All of this needs to be taken into consideration when looking for an indoor or outdoor mobility device.
If you are looking for something to help you out while inside the house, and don't plan to take it outside or at least not on too rough of surfaces, than I recommend looking for smaller wheels and less distance capacity upon charge, that way you can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Also look online for used mobility devices in your area. I found Facebook Market Place had a lot. But, be careful. Mobility devices are expensive and I found that people selling second hand devices were asking for almost top dollar prices compared to brand new models. Be diligent and do your research.
The only negative I have with my Travel Buggy City Wheelchair is that the large wheel tread on the back wheels house a lot of little rocks from my outside adventures. I still need my wheelchair when I'm inside, to get around my house, and those little rocks fall out of the treads as I motor around inside. This can make for a very frustrated husband/caregiver, at times, who has to try to clean my wheels and the floors of rocks from our home.
If I had the ability, and unlimited income - HA HA, I would have purchased an indoor wheelchair (to help me around the house like the Pride Jazzy Air Wheelchair. The Jazzy Air allows you to go up and down so you can look people in the eyes - avoiding neck strain. It also provides you the ability to grab things that are usually out of reach easier) and an outdoor wheelchair, my Travel Buggy City Wheelchair, to help make cleaning and transportation a breeze.
Having two separate wheelchairs would have helped with the cleaning and stress issues for my husband/caregiver but it would also have costed us a pretty penny to get setup.
Maybe, over time, two wheelchairs isn't out of the realm of possibilities but I recommend starting with one and seeing what you like and dislike about it.
If you notice you want to go out on more walks over rougher terrain than your regular concrete sidewalk, or join your friends for a light hike, than go for larger wheels and more distance capacity per charge. These mobility devices are not cheap, if you have insurance coverage use it!
When it comes to our health and providing ourselves with a better quality of life, there is no amount too great! If you're going to splurge on something this is that something!
Don't let the stigma stop you from going out and enjoying your life.
Yes, people do look and treat you differently when you are in a mobility device but don't feed into that stigma, help change the stigma, go out and enjoy your life!
I hope you found some useful tips from my post. I would love to hear what mobility devices you went with and why?
As well, comment below if you're having trouble deciding on what mobility device may be right for you. Let us help each other, raise up support, and provide ourselves with more freedom to do the things we love.
I am from Alberta, Canada, and I purchased my Travel Buggy City Wheelchair from Moose Mobility in Edmonton, Alberta. My sales representative was named Lisa Janzen and she was incredible from start to finish with helping us pick out the perfect mobility device for my specific needs. I recommend Moose Mobility 100% to any of my friends in the Alberta area, honestly I can't say enough great things about all of their staff, check out their website below:
When you go to Moose Mobility ask for Lisa, tell her Lasha Barbosa sent you, you won't be disappointed 💛♿💛.