The rising population of older adults in the U.S. has led to the rising usage of assistive mobility devices like the electric mobility scooters.
Electric mobility scooters are also known by other terms like motorized mobility scooters, buggies or gophers.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), electric mobility scooters are called “other power-driven mobility device” (OPDMD). OPDMD is defined under ADA as “any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines . . . that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion.”
Under the law, establishments must allow people with disabilities who use electric mobility scooters into their facilities, unless a particular type of device cannot be accommodated due of legitimate safety reasons.
A study by Jancey et al. showed that in 2008 alone there were 291,000 motorized mobility scooters users in the U.S.
Growing Popularity of Electric Mobility Scooters
The electric mobility scooters are growing in popularity because of the positive impact on the quality of life of the users.
A study by May et al. showed that there is an increasing use of electric mobility scooters by older adults in developed countries like Australia. The May study showed that older adults predominantly used this assistive device for getting to and from shops, visiting friends and family. The same study further showed that users of scooters drove this mobility technology 3 to 5 times each week and travelled between 2 to 5 kilometers from their home every week.
Another study by Löfqvist et al. showed that 56% to 91% of mobility scooter users found that shopping, walking and visiting family/friends were easier. The Löfqvist study also found that independence outdoors and indoors increased with the use of mobility scooter.
For the safe use of the electric mobility scooters, users must have sufficient upper body strength and postural stability to operate the vehicle. Specifically, the user must be able to meet these physical requirements:
-Walk even for short distances
-Sit down and stand up independently
-Enough strength in the arm and hands to operate the vehicle
-Sufficient balance and truck control while sitting