Scooter Pre-Purchase Tips & Info.
All things considered I thought it would be a good idea to include some scooter pre-purchase tips & hints and safety tips and information. Feel free to print off this check list and take it with you when purchasing a scooter. If you are getting your scooter through "Assisted Devices" or a gov't agency, these are still important things you should and need look into.
Before you actually buy your scooter.
Before you purchase your scooter - check it out! Be sure you have the guidance of your occupational therapist as well. Don't just think 'that looks nice or adequate', physically sit in it. Try it out if at all possible. Check leg and arm length, see if it adjusts to your needs, etc.
Be sure it is the right scooter for you.
Seat Base: Are you short? Then make sure your scooter is designed for shorter people. If you are short and you purchase one with an average seat base then you can be looking at sitting at an awkward angle and looking at future back pain. The same goes for if you are tall or heavy.
The Tiller: Check the 'tiller' angle. This is the part of the scooter with the controls on it. Some tilt more than others. This helps with how you sit and how far you will have to reach to use the controls. If you are small remember, your arm length isn't quite as long as the 'average' person. Be sure you can reach these controls comfortably.
Swivel seat: Do you have balance problems and need one with a seat that swivels so you can get on it and leave it safer?
Basket size: Do you plan to do your groceries as well while in your scooter? Then make sure it has an adequate basket with it. Some come with baskets so small they will hold only a bag of milk and a couple of small items. Is this adequate for you?
Seat arms: Do the arms of the scooter raise? This is important as it makes it not only easier to enter/exit but safer.
Back adjustments: Does the seat adjust up and down? Forward/backward? These adjustments provide for the most comforable driving positions and it should have at least the up/down adjustments for you.
There are different scooters for different people and ones out there to fill every need. Compare companies if at all possible. If you don't know who sells them, do a search on the internet or ask your occupational therapist. Compare models and compare prices.
Will it manoveur where you need it to?: Be sure to try the scooter everywhere you need it to go. Up a ramp you may usually use, into your apartment door or house door, into any doorway you need it to go. Get a feel for it. Does it turn easily? Does it fit with inches to spare? Is it a struggle to turn into your home from a hallway??? You need all these questions answered.
Turning ratio:Try and find a scooter with a smaller turning ratio. The smaller the better as we all know not every place is all that accessible. Plus make sure it is for the type of terrain you will be riding on. Someone in the countryside would probably do better with a 4 wheel type that is made to go on sand and grass better. 3 wheel types cannot be run on sand and can even stall on grassy area's depending on the model.
Transporting your scooter:If you are going to be transporting your scooter places with you in a vehicle, check into how it comes apart. All scooters come apart but some easier than others, some in less pieces than others. Also ask them what the heaviest component (part) of the scooter is. Can you lift this if you need to yourself?
Seat material:Scooters usually come in two choices of seat material. Cloth or plastic/vinyl type. Which will be better for you? There are pro's and con's for both. Cloth can wear with time and plastic/vinyl can be very hot in the summer.
Cane clamp:Do you use a cane as well? Then check that the scooter has a cane clamp available to hold your cane for you securely. Check the kind of cane clamp. Because this is a mobility device doesn't mean that the company designing the attachments aren't clueless. I wanted to get a cane attachment for my mom's scooter and the only one that came for it was nothing more than like a tube stuck to the back and every bump you hit, the cane would fly out.
Shock absorbers:Check into the 'shocks' on the scooter you are wishing to purchase. Be sure it has some and good ones. Those small cracks in the sidewalk (the ones every few feet) can be brutal at times and you do feel every one as you pass over them. Poorly made ramps can also jostle you pretty good. It may look like a nice smooth ride but being on a scooter isn't as smooth as it looks. As far as I'm concerned every politician should have to spend a week in a wheelchair and another in a scooter. My bet would be that our sidewalks would be in much better shape if they did and our buildings more accessible.
Seat design:Take a look at the back of the seat. Is it designed like an office chair? Or is it a good solid straight back. My advice is to stay away from the fancy ones that look like an office chair. They can break more easily, if you have back problems some of them have give to them and do not supply the kind of support you need. They can and do become 'wobbly' with use. And if you need to put a backpack on it to carry extra stuff, be it groceries or whatever, these kinds of 'office' type chairs make that very difficult. The backpack can't be so securely situated on it and you can lose it as you are going along. You quite possibly won't even notice it fall off and you'll lose whatever you have in there. Remember, there are a lot of bumps on streets that jostle you so it will jostle your backpack as well. You may think you won't need to use a backpack on your scooter but you will be amazed at how often you will wish you had a bit more carry space for groceries, purchases, etc. I use mine to pack a sweater/jacket or raincoat in, a bottle of water to carry with me, sometimes some of my camera equipment, or a lunch if I'm going to be out for some time, etc.
Floor space:Make sure it has ample space on the floor of the scooter as well. For instance, do you purchase pop by the case? Will it fit there to carry home (odds are it won't fit in your basket)? Do you have large feet? Will they fit comfortably in the space provided. Some scooters have very small floor space while others have larger ones.
Connections:Does it have 'automatic electrical connections'? This enables the plugging and unplugging of connectors which electrically connect the various sections of a scooter. Built-in contacts totally elimates the need for conventional connectors.
Horn:Does the scooter have a horn? Funny as it seems you will find you'll need it. Odd as it is, I find most scooter horns are pathetic in reality. They can be heard fine in your home or the showroom but take it out on a busy street and it gets lost in the traffic noise. Useless.
Charging your scooter:Check and ask how far the scooter will go on a charge. These can differ greatly. I've seen them with the ability to go 40 miles like mine and only 20 miles on others. I realize 20 miles sounds like a long distance but if you like to get out and about it really isn't all that far. You'd be surprised.
Also be sure to check the length of the charger cord. Will you be able to park your scooter right by an electrical outlet to charge it if the cord is short? If not, then inquire if you can use an extension cord for your charger and if so, what kind.
Battery charge: Inquire how long the batteries take to charge. This differs greatly from model to model as well.
How many charges: Inquire how many charges a battery will take. My scooter for instance will take approx. 300 charges before the batteries die. Batteries are expensive, approx. $250.00
What kind of batteries:Inquire what kind of batteries you are getting with the scooter. Gel type batteries are safer and easier maintained (no maintence on your part actually) than acid type batteries.
Key or plug in type:One last tip and a very important one. All scooters come with an on/off key/plug. Check which type it has. If it has a 'plug in' type I seriously recommend that you have it changed to a 'key' type. This can be done, if they say it can't then go elsewhere. The reason? If you must leave your scooter outside a premise for any given time unattended, the 'plug in starter' type can be easily stolen! You can find a jack (it looks like a stereo jack) that will fit that plug hole just about anywhere these days and even worse, at times a simple pencil can fit it. Therefore, anyone can come along and stick a pencil in that jack hole and start your scooter and off they go. Please do not think this doesn't happen. It can and does!
Believe me when I tell you this, these mobility devices and accessories are manufactured these days on an assembly line and the disabled are not considered any more. They are all made one size fits all and we all know that someone that is 6'2" tall and someone that is 5' tall can't sit on the same chair comfortably!! Now add the disability factor to it. Seems they forgot it though because they simply want to fly them off the assembly line these days. If you are short in stature make sure the scooter can be adjusted to sit you comfortably! Not just seat you. Your legs shouldn't dangle. Your feet should sit firmly on the floor of the scooter. If they don't, it will pull on your back and you'll feel it in no time. This is your life and you deserve a chair that will fill your needs and give you your independance. Always keep that in mind.
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