I have been patiently waiting patiently for two years to get a mobility scooter that actually fit my needs. The long wait was because of how the VA system works, which can be accurately described as glacial. In the end, it was not the VA that provided me with the needed mobility, it was my own savings. The VA, much like Medicare, won’t assist the disabled with a scooter oriented towards outdoor mobility. Instead, they focus on the patient’s home –or in stores. For shopping, they believe the indoor scooter should be transported in a vehicle special to that purpose. My doctor wanted me to get fresh air and to lightly exercise myself, and strongly encouraged that I continue my outside hobbies; I fly radio control airplanes and helicopters. My hobby provides me with fresh air, offers light exercise, and it’s emotionally rewarding all at the same time. So he prescribed a scooter for me so I could continue my outdoor hobby. The VA would to honor the prescription, but short circuit the intent by insisting that the scooter be limited to solely indoor purposes. Sadly, it took almost two years to finally get this explained before I threw my hands up and bought my own scooter –while I was still alive and able to use it for its intended purpose. Actually, I understand the reasoning behind the VA and Medicare limitations: It would be entirely easy for their financial support to be exploited for solely recreational vehicles like golf carts and recreational three and four wheelers. A line has to be drawn somewhere to prevent abuse, especially considering the companies that are infamous for their abuse of the Medicare subsidy in order to make a sale. I just happen to fall into a category that requires a borderline recreational scooter in order to meet an honestly medical need.
Most of my uses for a scooter are to take me 10 to 20 blocks, either to the flying fields I use, or to the stores where I shop for my groceries and other needs. My nearest friend lives two miles away, and for visiting my friend, the fields or stores, a scooter that crawls along at 3 to 4 miles an hour make these trips too long. I would spend more time getting there and back than I would spend on my visits. So, I researched the various offerings of the scooter marketplace, looking specifically for heavy duty units that offered the largest diameter wheels, the greatest power to negotiate grass, gravel and other workable off street surfaces, and fast enough that traveling wouldn’t constitute a career. It was depressing to find these scooters were in the $4000 range. Then again, the fastest scooters I found had maximum speeds of 6 miles per hour, better than the typical 3 or 4 mph scooters usually traveled. Nor were they particularly maneuverable, with turning radius claims of five feet or more. No tight turns like indoor use often mandates.
I finally tripped over the Electric Wheels EW-36, a tricycle with 16 inch wheels and pneumatic tires, replete with shock absorber suspension and transaxle style propulsion. It was driven by a 3/4 horsepower electric motor with lead acid batteries. It claimed a top speed of 15 mph, and a range as high as 45 miles. My first reaction was to think what a load of crap the claims must be, especially with a delivered price tag of $1600. All I could think of was the warning that anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.
But the more I checked it out, the more I began to wonder if maybe there was truth to the claims. It turned out that the manufacturer was well regarded, their products garnering good reviews. While some of their distributor companies were flagged as ripoffs, some of them were very highly rated by their customers. When I found one that offered a money back guarantee, I figured I’d give it a whack and see for myself if the scooter was the answer to my needs.
It was. So I now have a bright new scooter that not only fits my needs, but looks an awful lot like my Ford Taurus. At least they’re the same color and look equally doofy. But in the few days of ownership I have been out flying and gone shopping. And, it’s just what the doctor ordered.