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Ryan Fomiatti, Lois Moir, Janet Richmond & Jeannine Millsteed (2014) The experience of being a motorised mobility scooter user, Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 9:3, 183-187, DOI: 10.3109/17483107.2013.814171
link to article:

This article starts with a general introduction. It explains that the older people get nowadays, the more their body starts degrading in both physical and cognitive aspects. Mobility is crucial and mobility scooters offer a solution. One out of five people need assistance to remain mobile. Electric scooters (powered mobility devices) are powered by batteries and further consist of simple control mechanisms. In Australia, the scooter market is not regulated. The max velocity for a scooter is 10 km/h (legally a pedestrian). Only in Queensland, the driver is required to provide a certificate for using a scooter. (can be acquired from medical expert)
Without regulation and mandatory training, (deathly) accidents with scooters occur occasionally. Other research papers have mainly combined research into scooters with that of powered wheelchairs, meaning there is no proper research regarding the result scooters have on users with otherwise limited mobility, and display potential (physical/social) problems next to the benefits.

  • Research design:
    • Different individual profiles and results were acquired for the several research participants.
  • Recruitments of participants:
    • Retirement homes and lifestyle villages were contacted to find potential candidates. They needed to have a scooter because of a limited mobility for at least two months and were at least 18 years old
  • Data collection:
    • A question guide was used to check experiences in activities, participation and environments.
  • Data analysis:
    • For each interview a transcript was compiled on which analysis took place in form of data reduction, data display and conclusions.
  • Trustworthiness:
    • Several error-avoidance systems were used to maintain trustworthiness of the data, among which external peer reviews and use of an audit trail.

Most participants had not compared multiple brands or suppliers before their (often impulsive) purchase of a scooter, and only one individual had a medical recommendation. Retailers did not provide proper training and many users made uninformed purchases. Multiple users developed complaints regarding the seating and adjustability, and had no idea as to how they should handle and charge the batteries of their scooters. Some fell of or got knocked over by their own scooters. Applicants refused to acknowledge the fact that their loss of a previous driving license might also affect their ability to safely operate a scooter. Also, they were clueless about the range of operation of their scooters. The main application for the scooters were shopping and attending various appointments (doctors, education, church, walking dogs, etcetera). Also, the sense of independence with regards to their friends and family meant that the scooter users all noticed their quality of life to improve when using their scooters.
Most of the scooter users agree that the scooter makes it easier for them to improve their social life and eases all kinds of tasks even before an individual’s health starts declining. However, limitations do also occur. Many shopping isles support limited amounts of space to move through using scooters. The same occurs in lifts and public transport. Some participants had a hard time avoiding objects and walls, and thus stuck to a known set of locations in which they could fully operate. Storage and charging both were considered difficult as well, mostly from a lack of space in general.
The research supports existing papers regarding social improvements that mobility scooters provide. For scooters to keep their positive influence on ageing people’s lives, they need to be customizable to individual situations and postures. The necessary skills (physical and sensory) should not be underestimated, as this is the case right now. People are driving scooters mainly because of the inability to drive other vehicles, which is not without cause. Another issue is the fact that most residences do not have the material available to properly store and charge multiple electric scooters for their inhabitants, which is discriminating towards their individual needs.
Research was limited to users in residencies for ageing people, which meant storing and charging was difficult and environmental support not optimal.
Extra research is required with regards to elderly and disabled people who use mobility scooters. More specific, their different training and information needs. Scooter resellers should also properly educate their buyers regarding their product choice.