Scooters. I had a scooter when I was a kid. It was a skateboard (before such things) with a T-handle you used to steer with. It was a lot of fun for going downhill. Not as much fun carrying it back up hill.

Nowadays, there are electric mobility-scooters for grown-up people who have trouble walking. I am of the firm opinion that having an electric scooter is a really cool thing even if the salespeople for these latter-day scooters look and sound like they previously sold used cars on late night TV.

We visited a friend who lives in an urban, assisted living facility and she met us at the door on her scooter. She invited us to see her apartment and off she went like a bunny on the scooter, leaving us to lope along way back in her dust. Later when going out to lunch, she again used her scooter for the trip to the car. Her scooter makes her more independent, conserves energy and is an excellent transportation tool.

Our friend does not venture out onto the sidewalks for a trip to the grocery store on her scooter. In the rural area where I live, I often see older people on scooters taking rather long journeys, on streets with no sidewalks and no urban safety features. I marvel at their sheer courage and gumption but I expect they are driven by desperation and a surfeit of alternatives.

Accident rates, and usage data in general, for the elderly on scooters was a bit hard to find. For agreement about the lack of data and some insights see and Hart et al, 2003 and May, Garrett & Ballantyne, 2010. A study by Hoenig et al (2007) concluded that people will use scooters if they are available and that minor collisions do occur fairly frequently. One survey (Edwards & McCluskey, 2010) did find an accident rate of 21% among a sample of powered wheelchair (25%) and scooter (75%) users. Also, a study by Nitz (2008) with able-bodied subjects concluded that driver training was needed for using scooters.

Getting around when you can’t walk far and don’t drive is an issue of major proportions. A little, motorized chair with wheels can make a big difference. One needs guts to get out on the streets with one but I imagine given the alternatives, guts can be summoned.

References

  1. Edwards, K & McCluskey, A. A survey of adult power wheelchair and scooter users. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 2010, 5, 6, 411-419.
  2. Hart, T et al. Preliminary Evaluation of Electric Scooter Related Problems in Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, October 2003, 47, 12, 1536-1539.
  3. Hoenig, H, et al. Effect of Motorized Scooters on Physical Performance and Mobility: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2007, 88, 3, 279-286.
  4. May, E, Garrett, R & Ballantyne, A. Being mobile: electric mobility-scooters and their use by older people. Ageing and Society, 2010, 30, 1219-1237.
  5. Nitz, JC. Evidence from a cohort of able bodied adults to support the need for driver training for motorized scooters before community participation. Patient Education and Counseling, 2008, 70, 2, 276-280.

Image – I cannot find the source for this photograph but it is widely reproduced across the Internet. That’s not a claim to fair use but it is an acknowledgement of a great picture.