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4 Reasons a Mobility Scooter Means Freedom

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My grandpa was not yet 1 year old when he got poliomyelitis. Polio for short. It was around 1950, and the vaccine would come out soon after that. He used crutches for most of his life, but when he had a heart attack in 2007, it was time to consider a mobility scooter. Manual wheelchairs were not practical. He couldn’t go everywhere in them. And crutches were too hard on his body.

You see, polio is about more than paralysis. It attacks the central nervous system, spreading to the brain and the spinal cord. The virus destroys nerve cells and the muscles cannot be used anymore. In my grandpa’s case, it stunted the growth of one leg and made it so he could not use his other leg at all. After open-heart surgery, my grandpa had to consider getting a mobility scooter after using crutches for decades.

When I thought of my grandpa, I never thought of his crutches. When I think of him now, I never think of his mobility scooter. It’s like when someone always wears the same shoes. You don’t need to look at their feet anymore. You know they are wearing the shoes, but it’s not important.

My aunt likes to tell the story of when she was a kid and someone asked, “What happened to your dad?”

She gasped, “What?”

But when she looked at him, her dad was fine. There he was, standing with his crutches. This is how he always was, had always been. Nothing had happened. His crutches were just as much a part of him as his limbs were. Every picture of him drawn by his daughters included his crutches. In every picture of him by his granddaughters, he is drawn with his mobility scooter.

My grandpa’s crutches gave him the freedom to be there for every part of his daughters’ lives. His mobility scooter now gives him the freedom to be there for every part of his grandchildren’s lives. Every day he wakes up and goes to work by himself using his mobility scooter. In the parking lot of his apartment complex, he presses a button and a ramp comes down, enabling him to drive up into his van and park next to the driver’s seat. Then he pulls himself into the driver’s seat and goes to work. He lives by himself and works a full-time job, and he would not have been able to do this without his mobility scooter. Whether you have a rare disease like my grandpa, or you have another physical disability, a mobility scooter can give you your freedom back.

Here are four reasons why: 

Flexibility: Unlike a wheelchair, a mobility scooter has a seat that can swivel. This means you don’t need to crane your neck or turn your entire wheelchair around to look behind you. And there’s more space for your legs. It’s much less cramped than a wheelchair. At the end of the day, a mobility scooter can fold up, saving space and ensuring easy transportation.

Ease: A mobility scooter is easier on your upper body than crutches or a manual wheelchair. They can strain the shoulders and hurt the arms. The padded seat is upright, supporting your back. Going up inclines is a lot easier, too. There isn’t the risk of falling if you are using a cane or crutches, or losing control of a manual wheelchair and rolling backward. You can also travel a much longer distance.

Speed: A mobility scooter can go four to eight miles per hour. This saves you time and energy. You can keep up with your friends and family at the mall without wearing yourself out. And you don’t even need a driving permit.

Independence: Having a mobility scooter can help give you your independence back, enabling you to get to work and go into the community. Keeping your independence helps combat depression. Depression is common in those with a physical disability, especially older adults, because of isolation. Having a mobility scooter makes it much easier to leave the house and continue spending time with others.

You can get your freedom back just like my grandpa has. With a mobility scooter, you don’t need to slow down. You don’t need to miss an event or special occasion because of your disability. The convenience of a rechargeable battery, a comfortable seat that swivels, and not having to strain the upper body has helped my grandpa maintain the quality of his life.

If you have a physical disability, how do you maintain the quality of your life? Do you think mobility scooters are a good choice, or do you prefer something else?

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Originally published: June 5, 2017
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