Mobility scooters are equivalent to wheelchairs but configured like a motor-scooter.
They have seats with three, four, or five wheels, a flat area or foot plates for the feet, and handlebars to turn one, two, or three steerable wheels. The seat may swivel to allow access when the front is blocked by the handlebars. They are usually battery powered with one or two batteries stored on board the scooter, and charging is by an on-board or separate battery charger unit using standard electric power.
The forward, reverse, and speed controls are on the steering column centrally located at the front of the scooter. Forward/reverse may be controlled by thumb paddles, finger controls, or a switch. There are front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive versions. The front-wheel drive version is usually smaller and is better suited for indoor use. The rear-wheel drive version is more suited to both indoor and outdoor use.
Assistive and small sit-down motor scooters provide important advantages to people with mobility problems. Users without the stamina or arm/shoulder flexibility necessary to use a manual wheelchair will find them useful. Swiveling the seat on an electric scooter is often easier than moving the foot supports on most conventional wheelchairs. A scooter is very useful for people with systemic or whole-body disabling conditions (coronary or lung issues, some forms of arthritis, obesity, etc.) who are still able to stand and walk a few steps, sit upright without torso support, and control the steering aparatus.
A major selling point of scooters for many users is that they do not look like a wheelchair. Scooters are in general more affordable than powered wheelchairs.
While a scooter eliminates much of the manual strength problems of an unpowered wheelchair, its steering mechanism still requires upright posture, some shoulder and hand strength, and some upper-body mobility and strength. The arm-rest mounted controller found on many powerchairs may be more suitable for many users. Scooters also have fewer options for body support. The generally do not have head rests or leg rests, and are not usually designed with ease of patient transfer from seat to bed in mind.
Another drawback is that they are longer than wheelchairs, which increases their turning circle size and they may not fit in some lifts or wheelchair-designed access technologies such as kneeling bus lifts. Some scooters have low ground clearance which can make it difficult to negotiate some obstacles, such as when travelling in cities without proper curb cuts. Negotiating restricted spaces at home or in public spaces and buildings may also be a problematic.
We have a review of some scooters here that give a better idea of what scooters can offer.
This page has mostly powered wheelchairs, but there is one Scooter listed.
Shop for Scooters in the US on this page.