Mobility scooters 'designed to be safe and stable'

Mobility scooters 'designed to be safe and stable'
A man sits on a mobility scooter outside the stadium before kick off of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and West Ham United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 17, 2016.

Most mobility scooters travel at a speed of around 7kmh and are designed to be safe and stable medical devices for the elderly and people with disabilities, distributors here say.

Agis Mobility director James Lee said: "Before we sell it to customers, we would advise them on safety precautions, such as slowing down at a kerb." If a kerb is more than 5cm above ground, users should avoid crossing it.

Customers are also encouraged to try scooters before buying them, according to Falcon Mobility managing director Warren Chew.

"If we see them panicking, or if they appear unsuitable, we would turn them away," he said.

Both companies said the number of mobility scooter users here has been doubling year-on-year for some time. Mr Chew estimates that there are currently 4,000 users.

Occupational therapists stress the need for proper assessment prior to buying a mobility scooter.

Typically, they would look out for a client's motor functions, cognitive ability and eyesight before prescribing such devices, said Ms Tay Hwee Lin, principal occupational therapist at SPD, formerly known as the Society for the Physically Disabled.

"There are many models out there that fit different needs," she said. "It's important to get the right equipment for you."

Singapore Association of Occupational Therapists president Florence Cheong said: "Besides doing trials to test their ability to operate it, we look at their home environment and their daily routine."

A one-day orientation course to familiarise users is also being offered by the Handicaps Welfare Association.

Users are guided by social workers through a training track and taught the skills and limitations of operating mobility scooters.

With proper knowledge and training, many believe that these devices provide many benefits. "It gives users a sense of independence," said Mr Chew. "Having the freedom is important to their dignity and helps in their well-being."

This article was first published on May 18, 2016.
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