Complete Guide to Mobility Devices

Our in-depth guides will explain to you everything you need to know, from wheelchairs to walking canes
Chief editor | ASmith
Updated:

Best Mobility Device Product Reviews

A mobility product is not something you can purchase without knowing what you should be looking at. We put together a comprehensive guide to each of the most popular mobility aids below.

Mobility devices are pieces of equipment that you want to do your research on beforehand. Mobility aids like wheelchairs and scooters require much more consideration and research before making a purchase. We have put together in-depth buying guides and reviews on manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and more so you can make the best purchasing decisions possible. With massive amounts of options to choose from it may feel impossible to pick one. We have spent countless hours researching different models so we can give you the best possible choice when making a decision.

Do you need help walking?

Wheelchairs both manual and electric wheelchairs are excellent aids for someone that needs helps to gain mobility. If you find it difficult to walk any longer even shorter distances then using a mobility aid might be in order. From a walking cane to electric wheelchairs there are devices that can help bring back independence into your life. Recognizing when you might need a mobility aid is important and it is the first step in the process of finding the right walking aid that will be fit your lifestyle and needs. You may want to consider waking aid if:

  • You use medications that make you feel off balance and dizzy
  • You have fallen in the past or have many instances where you might fall while walking or standing
  • You hae an injury that causes you not to be able to walk far
  • You have limited body strenght both uppper or lower.
  • You dont have the stamina or strenth to walk or stand
  • You get tired when walking or standing
  • You suffer from pain when walking or standing

What type of mobility aid do you need?

There are some great walking aids for just about anyone and any condition. Canes, wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, and crutches are all mobility devices that you could use to gain independence and start moving again.

DeviceReviewWho should useUsage
CaneBest Canes When a little help is needed to get around. The user still poses enough strength to walk without the help of major aid. Used to help with balance and stability. Short & long term
CrutchBest Crutches For those with lower leg injuries. When an injury occurs at the foot, ankle, or knee level and aid needs to be sued to take weight off of the injury. These are short-term use mobility aids.Short term
WalkerBest WalkersWalkers and rollators are excellent for anyone that needs a mobility aid to provide more balance when walking. The user still possesses enough strength both upper and lower to walk but requires help with balance and stability. Long term
Manual WheelchairBest Manual WheelchairsManual Wheelchairs are for anyone that cannot walk short or long distances because of lower-body injuries, age, or other medical issues that do not allow proper movement to walk. These devices require either self-propelling or the help of a caregiver to manually push the wheelchair.Long term
Electric WheelchairBest Electric WheelchairsElectric wheelchairs provide the most automated movement for users that have very little to no way of getting mobile. This can be from injury, old age, or medical conditions. Users who typically use electric wheelchairs do not possess the strength needed to self propel the chair.Long term
Mobility ScooterBest Mobility ScootersMobility scooters are used by individuals that require help when venturing outdoors and need a way to travel farther when a cane or walker is not an option. These devices can be used indoors in the typical 3-wheel models as they have a tighter turning radius. Long term

Canes & Walking Sticks

Canes and Walking Sticks

Canes are great aids for those that need a little help moving but still possess enough strength to walk on their own. These mobility devices are lightweight and can be taken anywhere. Canes take less weight off of the lower body but also put more pressure on the wrist and hands.

Some of the more common types of canes you can find are:

Standard cane with one tip: These are the most common types of canes. They typically have u shaped handle and are made from wood or metal or a combination of both.

Quad canes: These canes have four feet at the end of the cane. This wider base provides greater stability and balance but they are also more difficult to use around the home because they can get caught on legs, rugs, and other things around the home.

Forearm canes: These canes offer extra forearm support and because of this can provide greater weight to be distributed up to the arm from the wrist.

Crutches

Crutches

Crutches are useful to help shift weight from the injured leg to the upper body. These mobility aids are temporary walking-assisted devices that are not intended for long-term use. Just like canes, there are a few different types of crutches you can get they are as follows:

Underarm crutches: The most common type of crutch is used properly when it is placed under the armpits, while the person then holds onto the handgrip. These are used for the short-term healing of an injured leg.

Forearm crutches: More used for long-term disabilities this type of crutch has a metal or plastic cuff that the user places his or her arm into and then they hold onto the grip for extra support.

Platform crutches: These are not as common as the other two types of crutches and are mostly used by individuals with weak hand grips because of conditions like arthritis and other common health issues. In these types of crutches, the user holds a grip while the forearm rests on horizontal platforms.

Walkers

Walkers

Walkers: Walkers provide even more support and stability than a cane and can be great aids in walking farther distances for those that need more support. These devices again are more for someone that still possesses the strength to get up and walk on their own.

Made from lightweight materials these are some of the most common mobility devices for anyone that needs extra help while walking.

some walkers will have glides or wheels on the leg base. This allows users to slide the walker when moving rather than having to pick it up. These are very helpful for people the very limited body strength.

What is the most common type of walker? They will include the following:

Rollators: These walkers have a lightweight frame and consist of four wheels, seats, and handlebars. These types of walkers also utilize a hand brake system.

Knee walkers: These mobility aids allow for the user to set the injured leg or in most cases a foot or ankle injury on a padded cushion allowing the person to move forward on their good leg. These are also considered short-term aid.

Wheelchairs

Wheelchair mobility device

Wheelchairs: Wheelchairs provide the maximum amount of mobility for users that require a way to get around when they lack the muscle power to move on their own for both short and long periods of time. Electric wheelchairs provide a way to gain mobility by using joysticks and can travel miles on a full charge battery. Manual wheelchairs are great for those that still possess upper body strength to propel the wheelchair.

Manual wheelchairs: Manual wheelchairs are the most common type of wheelchairs for users that still possess upper body strength and that can self propel themselves by using push rims on the chair. These are lightweight, easy to travel with, and require less maintenance than other types of electric chairs. Manual wheelchairs fall into a broad range of models like ultralight, heavy-duty, sports, and folding, wheelchairs. Each has its own positives and negatives.

Electric wheelchairs: Electric wheelchairs are the most expensive types of wheelchairs you can purchase. These chairs require much more maintenance and come with batteries, motors, and controls that make the price higher than manual wheelchairs. These are better for those that require more help to move because the user does not possess the strength to self propel the wheelchair.

Mobility Scooters

Mobility Scooter

Mobility scooters: Scooters, like electric wheelchairs, provide excellent ways to get around both indoors and out. These are lightweight or heavy-duty mobility aids that anyone can utilize depending on their needs. A lot of mobile users that use walkers for short distances will turn to mobility scooters for farther distances are required.

3-Wheel Scooters: These scooters are more designed for indoor use because they have a tighter turning radius that allows for easier operation indoors. While they can be used outdoors still the 4-wheel models have larger motors, larger wheels, and can travel over different terrains easier than most 3-wheel models.

4-wheel scooters: 4-wheel scooters typically have higher weight capacities and can navigate over rougher terrain than 3-wheel scooters. They are also more difficult to operate indoors where space becomes tight. This is because the 4 wheels make turning more difficult.

How much do mobility devices cost?

Now that we have gone over the benefits and why mobility aids are necessary for some people, let’s talk about what you can expect to pay for these types of aids. Mobility aids depending on what type you purchase can range from $20.00 canes to $30,000 dollar electric wheelchairs.

Basically, you will find that pricing will break down into a few different categories: Equipment of the mobility aid, upgrades (optional), Additional products, and possibly the installation of the product.

Mobility Aids and Cost

The below breakdown will show the average price cost for each category of mobility devices and what you can respect to pay for each category. Depending on models and upgrades these can be more than the pricing we show if upgrades are added on.

Mobility DeviceBase ComponentsReviewBase Price
Standard CaneWood / Metal / Rubber$15.00 – $20.00
Quad CaneWood / Metal / Rubber$20.00 – $80.00
Folding caneSteel, aluminum, titanium$15.00 – $40.00
Forearm CaneSteel, aluminum, titanium $35.00 – $175.00
Standard walkerSteel, aluminum, titanium, plastics$30.00 – $100.00
RollatorSteel, aluminum, titanium, plastics$70,00 – $600.00
Manual WheelchairSteel, aluminum, titanium, plastics$125.00 – $2,000 +
Electric WheelchairSteel, aluminum, titanium, plastics $1,500 – $5,000 +
Mobility ScooterSteel, aluminum, titanium, plastics $800.00 – $4,0000 +

Upgraded Cost

Most reputable mobility aid companies that sell wheelchairs and other mobility devices allow for upgraded pieces to be added during the purchase process. These upgrades are completely separate and are not equipped but can offer excellent and secondary comfort to wheelchair users. you can expect to see the following type of upgrades available to you.

  • Anti-tippers
  • Seat cushions
  • Back cushions
  • Extra batteries (Electric wheelchairs)
  • Seat belts
  • Harnessses
  • Grips
  • Armrest pads

Will Medicare help pay for your mobility aids like wheelchairs and scooters?

The answer to this question is no simple yes or no. This is because Medicare will cover certain mobility devices as long as they are considered durable medical equipment or DME. Medicare will help in covering some of the costs if the following terms are met.

  • The doctor that you use must submit a written order that states you have a medical need for a scooter or wheelchair that you need to use in your home.
  • You must have liited mobility and meet all of the said condition below:
    • The health condition that you have makes moving around the home difficult.
    • You have a hard time doing basic activies like getting in and out of bed, useing the bathroom, dressing wven when a walker or cane is beeing used.
    • You can get on and off a wheelchair or scooter safely or you have someone that can assit you use the mobility aid device.
    • Both your doctor and the supplier that you want to ppurchase the wheelchair from both are enrolled in Medicare.
    • The wheelchair or scooter must be able to fit in your home and through doorways.

If you meet this requirement then you could pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount after you pay your Part B deductible for the year. Then Medicare pays for the other 80 percent.

Tips for Seniors to Stay More Mobile

Besides using mobility aids to gain mobility there are tips that can be utilized for seniors to stay more active and have better mobility as they age. The tips below can help with staying active.

Exercise

Staying active as we age is one of the best and proven ways to maintain and keep your independence. Major studies have been performed on the effects of physical activity and preventing mobility disability in seniors.

Physical activity can help senior mobility and it is recommended that seniors have an exercise program in place. You should consult your doctor as to what the best plan of action should be for your personal situation.

We have written some of the best exercises that seniors and anyone with mobility issues can perform to try and improve strength, balance, and mobility.

Eating Healthy

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight are also crucial for long-term mobility health. Carrying more weight can cause knees and other joints to ace and cause walking and other movements to slow resulting in mobility issues. Eating well and creating a balanced diet are important as we age.

Speak to your doctor to learn what diet is best for you is the first step to improve weight, overall feelings, and a healthier lifestyle as we age.

Summary

Choosing a mobility aid that best fits your needs may seem like a big task, we hope this guide will help to point you in the right direction. If you still have questions or concerns about finding the best mobility devices. We recommend you take a look at our best guides on manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and walkers.

FAQs

Below are some of the most questions we hear from our users so we thought we would list them below.

Which mobility aid is best for me? This depends on your needs and how much help you require to safely gain mobility. Remember, you always want to make sure you fit your needs as closely to the mobility aid as possible. If you only need a little help and still have plenty of power to walk a cane or walker might be good for you. Those that need more may need to look at wheelchairs.

Are wheelchairs one size fits all? No! This is a huge misconception that can cause even more issues for the user. You need to closely match your size with the wheelchair size. You do not want to sit and use a wheelchair that is too small or large you can risk pressure sores, pain, and even falling easier out of the chair.

Are mobility scooters better than electric wheelchairs? These are two different types of mobility aids. Electric wheelchairs are a long-term solution to mobility that is controlled by a joystick that is designed for users that require the most help with mobility issues. Mobility scooters require strength to at least hold on to bike-style handlebars, press a thumb lever to move, and they are designed for people that can get up and still walk by the way of a cane or walker when needed.