A Concise Guide to Wheelchairs, Mobility Scooters & Walking Aids
Author:
John Hinds
Post Date:
September 23, 2020

The chances are if you are reading this you are either someone, or know somebody who cannot take the ability to get from A to B for granted. Assuming this is the case, this article aims to explain some of the best mobility options for you, taking into consideration the full range of mobility issues.

Depending on the nature of the mobility issue and of course the nature of the desired level (especially distance) of the kind of trip desired, a wheelchair, mobility scooter or walking aid could make a big difference.

Walking aids

Walking sticks

Everyone is familiar with the humble walking stick. They are designed to give the user the balance and support when walking that they would otherwise lack. The walking stick represents a great way to boost the confidence of the user as well as taking away elements of instability and pain.

Not everyone realises this, but walking sticks can be obtained on the NHS. You should speak to your GP or even your physiotherapist to explore the various options and a deposit may be required. Of course, the range of options should you go the NHS route are rather limited and more choice is available online and via mobility shops. When you shop for a walking stick it is worth paying attention to:

  • The correct height for you – mobility shops are a great resource for advice – either in person, online or over the phone
  • How many feet? Other than the typical one foot walking stick, some stand up by themselves, with 3 or even 4 feet
  • Right handed or left handed sticks are available
  • Whether you need a stick to go up steps – your physiotherapist’s advice here is invaluable

Walking frames

A frame offers greater support than a stick and as with sticks, you can approach your GP to explore the NHS option, otherwise mobility shops offer a greater range and better quality. Things to consider include height, indoor or outdoor suitability, whether you can lift wheel-less models, whether you need to fold the frame for car transport and whether you need a seat or a basket for shopping.

Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs offer great options for shopping, outdoor and indoor use. If you would like to explore the NHS options you will need to be referred to your local wheelchair service, where they will assess you. Your GP or physio can arrange this. You could be given a voucher, which gives you the flexibility to choose from a range of options and even put it towards a more expensive model than you might otherwise get.

There are many different wheelchairs on the market ranging from just over £100 to over £1000. The Motability Scheme offers those on benefits help with purchasing a wheelchair while the personal wheelchair budget scheme has also been launched. Contact the CCG in your area for information.

The main things to consider when purchasing a wheelchair are:

  • Electric or manual wheelchair
  • Will you be pushed or pushing yourself
  • How comfortable is it? Try before you buy
  • Is it for indoor or outdoor use?
  • Perhaps you’d like to be able to take a wheelchair on holiday, to get out and about and enjoy the sights

Mobility scooters

The freeing nature of a mobility scooter is, perhaps unparalleled in the mobility aid world. You are able to travel longer distances and can get out to areas hitherto unimaginable with a mobility scooter. The price range of a mobility scooter is from £400 to over £5000, but the cost-benefit ratio is incredible. There are charities out there that can help with costs, while the Motability Scheme is also on hand to help.

Things to consider when looking at a prospective mobility scooter include how you will get it into a car if necessary, maintenance costs, where you will be using it, where you will store it and the battery life of the scooter. Always consider consulting your local mobility shop for advice.

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