Revisiting Electric Scooters

Canadian Clinical Blog by Sheilagh Sherman, BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.) - Sunrise Medical

Clinical Corner first addressed electric mobility scooters in Scooters: The Essentials of What You Need to Know. With spring emerging in many parts of Canada after a long winter, and with summer just around the corner, it is a good time to revisit electric scooters as the promise of good weather often leads us to think about outdoor mobility.

This month, let’s continue our look at what differentiates models of scooters, even amongst those from the same manufacturer. Size of the scooter is an obvious differentiating feature. Some scooters are designed to be compact for travel, while others are designed for indoor and outdoor use. The length of the scooter will affect the turning radius and maneuverability of the scooter, with a longer scooter having a larger turning radius and less maneuverability than a smaller scooter. The benefit of a longer wheelbase over a shorter wheelbase is a smoother ride. Other features that add to a smooth ride are larger wheels and pneumatic (air-filled) tires. Foam-filled tires have the benefit of being flat-free; however, the ride will not be as smooth as a pneumatic-tire. A suspension system will also add to the smoothness of the ride.

Other differentiating features between models of scooters are the maximum speed available and the maximum potential range. Having the possibility of higher maximum speed may be important for individuals driving scooters outdoors. The potential range is the distance the scooter will travel on a given battery charge. There are many things that affect the actual range, such as weight of the individual, driving patterns and terrain. In general, if a scooter has a choice of battery sizes, larger capacity batteries will offer greater range.

Scooters also vary in their weight capacities. Therefore, it is important to know the maximum user weight of the scooter, particularly if an individual is approaching the maximum weight capacity of a particular model. Another model may be a safer choice.

For individuals driving scooters in hilly terrains or up ramps, it is important to look at the maximum safe slope, or the incline rating, of the scooter. The maximum safe slope is the angle of incline that the motor can push the scooter up a slope while all wheels remain on the ground. It is the angle that has been found and proven to be safe for stability. (There will be more on stability of mobility devices in a future Clinical Corner article.) Some scooters will have active anti-tippers at the rear of the scooter to help prevent the scooter from tipping backwards if the individual drives up a slope that is too steep for the scooter. Some anti-tippers have the ability to move up as the individual drives over obstacles while still helping to keep the wheels connected to the ground when going up slopes.

If all of the features between scooters are comparable for an individual, the deciding factors may come down to colour choices and size of the included basket. Choices in options and accessories may help an individual to select one model over another, after performance and safety issues have been addressed.

There will never be one scooter that is right for everyone; however, with diligent research, therapists can assist individuals to find scooters that are right for their needs. Being aware of various models of scooters and their differentiating features can help to ensure an optimal match is made between the individual, the environment, and the mobility device.

As always, please provide your comments, questions, and suggestions regarding Clinical Corner. Please email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Sheilagh Sherman BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.) - Clinical Education Manager, Canada

Sheilagh Sherman, BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Sheilagh Sherman joined Sunrise Medical Canada in 2010 as a Clinical Educator. Prior to joining Sunrise, Sheilagh gained extensive clinical experience working in a variety of settings, including neurological rehabilitation, complex continuing care, and community rehabilitation. As the Clinical Education Manager, Sheilagh is a clinical resource for therapists across Canada involved in seating and mobility. She leads workshops, seminars, and webinars on the clinical aspects of seating and mobility. In addition, Sheilagh has presented at national and international conferences on seating and mobility.

Sheilagh also has an educational background that makes her well suited to the role of Clinical Education Manager. Sheilagh earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1988, which enables her to understand healthcare policy and policy changes. Sheilagh graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy) degree from McMaster University in 1994. In 2012, Sheilagh earned a Certificate in Adult Education/Staff Training from Seneca College. She applies adult learning principles to the workshops she leads. Finally, she also has a Master of Health Management (MHM) degree from McMaster University after graduating in 2015. Courses that Sheilagh completed during the MHM degree, such as Knowledge Translation, Evaluating Sources of Evidence, and Quality & Safety in Healthcare, assist Sheilagh in using an evidence-based approach in her work.

In her free time, Sheilagh enjoys running, in addition to practicing yoga.

Date: 2018-05-30

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