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What I've Learned About Finding the 'Right' Mobility Device

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Walking is often painful for my 8-year-old, whose orthopedic condition causes chronic knee and leg pain. He can walk shorter distances more easily, but for longer ones, we have tried a number of traditional and non-traditional mobility aids. These include:

  • 3-wheel electric standing scooter
  • Regular wagon
  • All-terrain wagon
  • Pediatric walker
  • Cane
  • Walking sticks
  • 2-wheel electric scooter
  • Regular (non-electric) 3-wheel scooter
  • Toddler trike
  • 2-wheel bike
  • Recumbent bike
  • Tag along bike
  • Bike trailer

This is in addition to the 11 strollers we have tried and/or run into the ground over the years, three of which are currently in regular rotation (a tall/lightweight travel stroller to keep in the trunk of the car, Bob jogging stroller for walks around town, and a double stroller to use with little sister).

I have spent countless hours researching mobility devices (which often don’t exist in pediatric form) along with the seat heights of different stroller models as my child has grown. And while there is nothing wrong with an older child using a stroller, we are always on the hunt for something that will give our kid more independence while increasing his mobility and reducing his pain.

Our favorite mobility aid has to be his 3-wheeled, standing electric scooter. It’s fun for him, and his friends think it’s super cool. It helps him get around our neighborhood, visiting outdoor gardens and paved trails with ease. He was recently able to use it on a field trip with his class on a walk from their elementary school to the local food bank.

When he was 6 years old we originally tried a 2-wheel electric scooter, as that was all that was available at the time. But we found that for a kid who experiences more pain than others when he falls, the balance necessary for mastering two wheels was an issue. After years of research, I finally found a 3-wheel electric scooter that Globber released in 2020 (that costs under $200). We have had it for a year and it is still going strong with regular use at least a few times a week. Unfortunately, it is currently out of stock, but I’m hopeful more will make it to the market for others soon.

I love seeing him surging ahead of us, his feet planted firmly on the scooter deck, bright blue helmet atop his head. It makes me smile every time I quicken my step to try and keep up with him.

We have another very new and exciting mobility aid that we recently took on a trip abroad. We considered bringing his 3-wheel standing scooter, but as a non-traditional mobility device and best for outdoor use, we wanted something more traditional for navigating the airport.

I have been looking for a mobility scooter for him for years. Though there still aren’t many options for pediatric ones, I found a small, adult-sized one that fits him perfectly. It weighs 40 pounds, goes up to 3.7 mph, and lasts up to 15 miles on a single charge. Unbelievably, it folds up and fits into the overhead bin on the airplane (a very large airplane for an international flight). It was, however… not cheap. At over $1,700, it’s actually not that bad as far as mobility scooters go. But it is an investment for sure.

My son likes to ride it up and down the block while the other neighborhood kids ride their bikes and regular scooters. He rode it to a neighbor’s birthday party the other day, zooming back and forth, bouncing on his seat while toddlers danced around him. I see us using it for trips to museums, the grocery store, Target, and indoor field trips with school. The main downside for it at the moment is it is still fairly heavy to lift into and out of the car. Overall it has far exceeded our expectations.

As we are thrilled to have several great options at the moment, I’ve come to realize that there is no one, perfect piece of equipment that will meet all of his needs. My child can use different ones for different purposes. And his needs will change as he gets older and over time. There will continue to be trial and error in figuring out what will work. We are lucky to have the privilege of purchasing and trying out different ones, many of which we’ve found secondhand.

Our combination of electric scooters and wagons and strollers is perfect for “right now.”

Getty image by Aleksandar Nakic

Originally published: September 15, 2022
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