The use of extras on your mobility scooter
The choice of what mobility scooter to buy can be daunting enough apart from the plethora of accessories for a variety of needs. Some scooters come with these accessories built in or offered as add-ons for a lower price, but almost all of these features are for sale separately and can be mounted to your current or future mobility device. With such a range of extras, individuals may fret over which ones best fit their needs and attempt to get each and every attachment that is available. This begs the question: Do mobility scooter users really need extras on their device? If so, which ones are the most helpful?
Rearview mirrors are an important fixture to safely drive a car, so some people may think it is a natural necessity for their mobility scooter as well. While many scooters come with rearview mirrors for your convenience, this accessory is not necessarily a must-have unless you are travelling on sidewalks or the road. The latter of which is not recommended anyway, since mobility scooters do not offer the appropriate speed to help you safely keep up with the flow of traffic.
Again, a lot of sophisticated and comprehensive mobility scooters come with a small horn built in to the steering controls. Some basic models of scooters may not have one, in which case individuals can opt for external horns that attach to the front basket or side handles. This can be a good safety feature to help individuals draw attention to themselves in potentially unsafe situations on sidewalks or near the road. The general consensus is that this feature doesn’t serve much of a purpose for indoor scooters. However, some individuals may choose to purchase a rudimentary horn (or maybe even a small, manual bell) simply for fun, to ring when passing family by. Therefore, the addition of a horn is largely a personal preference.
Again, this option is typically standard with mobility scooters and this can be a useful feature for individuals to safely store their belongings while on trips outside of their home. Baskets mounted on the front of the scooter are in an optimal position to allow individuals to get up, walk around their scooter, retrieve their items when needed. This is the recommended method, since standing up on the base of the scooter is not safe. Baskets purchased separately from scooters can be a good option, but are best suited in the front-mounted position for safety. Add-on baskets may be poorly mounted and placed in inopportune areas, making them more of a safety risk than a convenience.
Another storage option is a fabric scooter pack, which is often mounted to the back of the seat. This is also a good place for individuals to keep their belongings they don’t often need, since individuals again need to get out of the scooter and walk around to the back to access their items. This is not typically included with scooters, but is a good option if individuals do not have a pre-mounted basket in the front of their scooter. When attaching this, be sure it is fully secured to prevent it from falling off and getting trapped in the undercarriage of your scooter.
Similar to a scooter pack is a fabric arm tote that can be slid onto the armrest of scooters and adjusted as needed. This offers storage while eliminating the need to get out of the scooter. All items are within arm’s reach, but individuals should be sure that the length and loop of the arm tote does not interfere with their ability to transfer in and out of their scooter.
Rear lockable storage
This accessory is another option most suitable for individuals who use their scooter outdoors, as it protects valuables that are mounted on the back of their scooter. The hard shell casing also shields their items from the elements such as snow, rain, or wind. The lockable nature of this storage is best-suited for a scooter user who is able to keep track of the key in order to access their items whenever they need. While this may not serve as big of a purpose for individuals who use their scooter indoors, it is also a good feature for individuals who live in communities such as assisted living facilities or long-term care housing.
Individuals who need to transport large or bulky items (such as several grocery bags of a normal weight) that would otherwise be unsafe for them to handle can do so using a scooter trailer. This is obviously best suited for individuals using their scooter outside of the home and within the community. However, this is often not a recommended accessory since there are much better ways for individuals to safely transport items, such as asking someone for assistance or making smaller trips. Individuals who use this accessory should be cautioned that the weight of items in the trailer can have an impact on the performance of their scooter. For example, they may experience difficulty going up an incline, decreased battery life, and less speed in a variety of settings.
Individuals who store their scooter outside or use it to travel between places within the community will want to invest in a scooter cover. This is only ideal for individuals who leave their scooter outside while it is not in use, such as in parking garages or near bike racks in public places. Individuals may do this while using a cane to ambulate shorter distances, then going back to their scooter for longer trips.
Those who use their scooter while travelling outdoors would benefit from a canopy. While this may not fully or safely shield individuals from heavy snow or heavy rain, individuals may be protected from direct sunlight, snow flurries, or drizzles while navigating the community. Again, this is only necessary for individuals who use their scooter outdoors.
Cup holders do not typically come standard with scooters, but they are a good option for individuals who like to take their travel mug with them. Most cup holders mold to the size of their cup and can accommodate large thermoses or smaller, disposable drinks. Individuals are cautioned to keep a cover on their cup when traveling with a drink, in order to prevent any spillage of hot (or cold) beverages. If any beverage were to spill on you, it could impair your ability to safely use your scooter. Most cup holders are posited near the steering wheel and can be adjusted as needed.
This may be useful for individuals who use their phone for navigation purposes when out in the community. However, this can pose a safety risk for someone with even mild impairments in judgment, safety awareness, or general cognition. Individuals are cautioned to not use their scooter when they are distracted in any way, but to familiarize themselves with their environment before navigating anywhere. This can be done by researching the area beforehand and writing directions down. Individuals who want to mount their phone for the purpose of having it handy are urged to store it in an arm tote or basket.
Individuals who use their cane for short distances when they are not using their scooter will want to opt for a cane holder. Some canes are retractable and can be made more compact for storage purposes, meaning they can often be stashed in baskets or possibly even arm totes. However, individuals who use regular sized (straight) canes will want a clip or holder that safely keeps their cane handy on the back of their seat and ready for use when they get to their destination.
Mostly all scooters come with headlights to allow for illumination of their path and improved safety. However, some individuals may want added light to reassure them. Small, but bright drive lights can be positioned at the front of the scooter (possibly on the front of a basket) or on the side of steering controls.
There are many accessories that individuals can use to enhance their experience with a mobility scooter. While some are more appropriate for individuals who primarily use their scooter outdoors, some serve as mere conveniences. Certain add-ons such as drive lights and cane holders may be more crucial for individuals with targeted needs. It is always best to assess the best mobility scooter for you by learning about their features and speaking to a mobility consultant. If you feel as if you need more from your mobility scooter, accessories may be what you are looking for. But if you are really lacking the mobility assistance you need to safely interact with your environment, it may be time to purchase a new scooter with the assistance of a healthcare professional.