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MS and Power Mobility Devices

Choosing the Appropriate Power Mobility Device

A physical or occupational therapist will assess your mobility and function, and will identify problem areas and recommend the appropriate device. Ideally, there will be a good match between your mobility needs and the power mobility device. The initial choice to be made is usually between a power scooter and a power wheelchair. Choosing between these two devices is based on your environment, functional status, and available transportation.
 
Power Scooters
Individuals often first experience using a scooter at the local grocery or retail store. To use a scooter, you need to have:
 
  • Good trunk control
  • Adequate upper body strength and dexterity to operate the controls
  • The ability to transfer to and from the scooter seat.
     
Typically, a scooter can be disassembled and transported in the trunk of a car, thus increasing a person's access in the community. The scooter's seat can be turned next to a table in a restaurant to reduce transfers, and baskets provide storage for shopping. On the other hand, scooters require a large area to turn around in and, therefore, are usually not useful inside the home.
 
Power Wheelchairs
If the multiple sclerosis has affected the back and arm muscles, a power wheelchair may be needed to provide adequate positioning. Proper positioning helps to:
 
  • Maintain good posture
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Prevent deformity.
     
A power wheelchair enables you to operate the wheelchair using a single hand or a head control. The configuration of the wheelchair base results in a smaller turning radius for in-home use. The primary disadvantage of the power wheelchair is determining how to transport it. Some models of power wheelchairs can be disassembled or are light enough to be loaded into a vehicle using a boom lift. However, most power wheelchairs require the user to have a van with a ramp or lift to transport the wheelchair.
 
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