Electric Scooters are Not Just for the Retired Crowd Anymore
By Julie West
Los Angeles – Cruising down the sidewalk in a local neighborhood or inside a local mall, electric scooters or a Power Operated Vehicle (POV) are becoming more and more a part of today’s disability integrated society. But are they right for everyone?
The target audience for scooters used to be women age 55 and older and to a lesser extent, men in that same age bracket. In previous years, they were almost exclusively marketed to active seniors. Scooters most often appeal to people who have led active lives and refused to allow their current
health conditions to limit their ability to get around or be independent. However, today, people of all ages and varying ability levels are electively purchasing these products for their efficiency, comfort, and convenience. Consequently, manufacturers are offering new models to appeal to both of these
It is important to note, a scooter is not appropriate for several quickly progressive degenerative diseases. A powered wheelchair is often a more appropriate solution.
“A scooter needs to be able to mold to a consumers individual needs,” said Joe Garcia, mobility specialist for South Bay Home Healthcare explains. “They should not have to adapt to the device. These new scooters are great, but they need to be the right choice for the consumer purchasing the vehicle or adapted
accordingly to meet their specifications. First, I ask what my customer will be primarily using the scooter for, that is, how and where they plan to utilize it.
“I ask the following questions, Will it be used inside or outside? What size area will it be used in? How close of a turning radius will be necessary? For example, how large is the home or office it is being used in. Can it easily and safely be navigated in a mall or department or grocery store? What type of flooring or terrain will it be used on? I ask the customer how important the smoothness of the ride is? I explain how hard tires require less maintenance than soft tires, however, the trade off is a harder bumpier ride. Then I attempt to engage the consumer in a discussion regarding their fine and gross motor skills, their cognitive abilities and the stability or projected progression of their condition are, also, taken into account. Then, together, my customer and I assess if their preferred POV is or is not a safe and appropriate short and long-term option. If my consumer requests it, I will consult with their physician, physical and occupational therapist, as well. A
cohesive team effort can be critically valuable to anyone when making this type of major and often costly decision.”
Bruno Independent Living Aids recently introduced their new “Special Edition” scooters include the Thunder 37, a Harley Davidson inspired model, the Police 46, a police theme vehicle, the Fire Fighter 46, a sporty fire engine red model, the Catalina 46, a vintage Ford Thunderbird motif mobility product,
the Outdoorsman 46, the rugged scooter version of an SUV/4 wheeler and the Racecub 46, a scooter designed for those people who want a Speed Racer racecar image. These vehicles lend themselves to indoor or outdoor use, and have a broad appeal.
“Our three and four wheel scooters are products that are designed to offer a variety of options to accommodate each rider’s specific abilities and needs,” said Michael Bruno, CEO and Chairman of the Board for Bruno Independent Living Aids. “Our inspirational special edition scooter line is styled to be nostalgic for some consumers and new and innovative for other customers. These five unique mobility transports can fit everyone’s lifestyle and dreams. Our company can customize a customer’s own ideas as well.”
Another scooter option is the “ZEM” (Zero Emission Motor Vehicle), a hybrid between a moped and a scooter. It often appeals to, and is usable by people with varying ability levels, and of various age groups. ZEM attempts to meet the diverse desires and needs of its different constituencies by offering
numerous amenities designed to appeal to a wide cross section of the consumer population. For example, the ZEM can be a two-, three- or four-wheel electric scooter and can be used indoors or outside. The ZEM can also be adjusted for speed, accelerating to a maximum of 10 miles per hour or as slow 1 mph.
The ZEM features easily augmentable hand brakes that can be adjusted to allow the scooter to come to a rolling or sudden stop. ZEM’s seats range and vary from a motorcycle type of seat to a comfortable bucket or chair like seat that allows for easy transferring. Rearview mirrors and a light up horn are also optional. ZEM’s HCF-301 Escort 4 wheeler is its most popular model. It features a stable, heavy-duty design to extend mobility. Weight is distributed evenly on its 4-wheel design. This creates a solid and sturdy base for larger riders and riders who desire or need extra stability.
According to Adam Fine of Accessible Design and Consulting, “Electric scooters, originally designed and marketed almost exclusively to active seniors, are now finding a new and younger audience as a result of style innovations. Individuals of all ages and varying ability levels are taking advantage of new
mobility products designed to be a combination or fusion between aids for daily living for individuals who have disabilities and transportation and/or recreation alternatives for people of all ages and varying ability levels. The popularity of these new products is being attributed to design characteristics
that are practical, affordable, efficient, environmentally sound and sporty. Many of these scooters are lighter weight for transporting and travel. They are even being distributed in the same stylish colors that automobiles are being offered in.”
Some accessories are so popular that they are on their way to becoming standard equipment on certain makes and models, such as transaxle drive systems, vs. messy oily chain drives. Other accessories include horns, headlight, turn indicators and longer-use batteries.
Fine adds, “These electric scooters are equally popular amongst people who need them for mobility challenges and those who choose them for recreation and transportation. They are even being implemented by emergency personal to administer quicker responses. These vehicles are being viewed as assets for emergency and disaster preparedness at the beach and other large public
Fine explained that today, scooter end users include active seniors, people with disabilities who have the dexterity to control the scooter with their upper extremities, recreational users and workers at large venues such as convention centers., airports and amusement parks.
While scooters are used for convenience and recreation, usually, they are not perceived as medical equipment. Scooters are perceived as an elective consumer retail product or luxury equipment. A crucial consideration to remember when contemplating obtaining a scooter is that most scooters must be purchased privately, even if a consumer may consider the product critical to the preservation of their health. It is often difficult for patients to have their scooters covered under Medi-care or other forms of insurance.
Special requirements are set by insurance companies to qualify a patient for a POV whether it be is a powered wheelchair or a scooter. POVs are billed to the Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carriers (DMERCs) using the HCPCS code E1230 are meant to function primarily inside the home, and are characterized as non-highway vehicles. Due to their size and other features, scooters are
generally intended for use outdoors and are not eligible for coverage by Medi-care. To be covered by Medi-care, a POV must be “medically necessary”. Convenience items for individuals who are capable of ambulation in the home, but require assistance outside the home to perform leisure or recreational
activities and are not considered “medically necessary”
A POV is covered by Medi-care and other insurances usually under the following conditions:
- The patient’s condition is such that a wheelchair is required for the patient to move around the home
- The patient is unable to operate a manual wheelchair
- The patient is capable of operating the controls of the POV
- The patient can transfer safely in and out of a POV and has adequate trunk stability to ride in it safely
Generally, it is only covered if it is ordered by a physician who practices physical, orthopedic, neurological or rheumatology. If one of these specialists is not reasonably accessible, their primary physician is permitted to prescribe a POV. Additionally, specific required documentation must be provided to Medi-care by the provider such as a CMN certificate of medical necessity and sent to the DMERC.
For more information regarding new scooter options contact: