Evaluation of Scooters Using ANSI/RESNA Standards

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Recent statistics on growth among the older adult population from the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration of Aging show that the number of people aged 65 years or older increased from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010. This population represents 12.9 percent of the U.S. population, which means one out of eight Americans are now older than 65 [1]. By 2030, there are expected to be about 72.1 million older persons in the United States, double the number in 2000. This anticipated increase in life expectancy may also cause a proportional growth in disability and, ultimately, an increased need for technical support for this population in performing daily activities [2]. Coupled with estimates that show that 75 to 90 percent of disabled older adults currently use some form of assistive technology for mobility [3], the possibility of 54-65 million people requiring assistive technology by the year 2030 has far-reaching implications. As the population ages, there is a noted increase in the demand for power mobility devices, including power wheelchairs and scooters [4-5]. The use of wheeled mobility devices in the United States has increased in the past decade, with a total number of nearly 4 million users, among whom 291,000, or 7 percent, use power devices such as scooters [6]. A wide variety of wheeled mobility device options can be found on the market, including manual and power wheelchairs and scooters. With so many models to choose from, it is important for users to have access to objective information about their safety and durability so they can make an informed decision [7].

When clients come to a clinical setting looking for mobility devices, they usually look for scooters for two primary reasons: either they feel that these devices are more socially acceptable than other options or they may not have knowledge of the benefits of other types of mobility devices [8].

The prescription process should be client centered, where the clinician works together with the user to find the most appropriate mobility device. With so many options on the market, it can be a challenging process to choose the most appropriate mobility device. Depending on the reimbursement criteria of each client's insurance provider, clinicians may be required to select a mobility device that will not only be the most appropriate for the client's needs, but also fall within the client's insurance policy requirements. Currently, a number of different scooter models are available, and for this reason, it is important for clinicians, rehabilitation professionals, and their clients to know the features, performance, durability, and reliability of each device [9]. Research on the use of motorized scooters has shown that scooters might increase activity levels among people who have difficulty with ambulation and therefore increase their community participation [10]. Various organizations ensure that these devices are safe and durable, and most of these organizations rely on standardized testing methods. The American National Standards Institute/Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (ANSI/RESNA) have developed standard tests to assist clinicians and clients in evaluating and comparing different mobility device options and deciding the most appropriate device for the client's needs [11-12]. The ANSI/ RESNA standards allow an objective comparison of mobility devices within different test procedures [11-12].

Medicare requires many of the ANSI/RESNA standard tests to be conducted on all power operated vehicles (POVs) (e.g., scooters) to ensure the devices are safe, their performance meets target goals, and the performance and dimensions are disclosed to the end user and clinicians in a standardized format. Most tests can be conducted by the POV device manufacturer as long as they are conducted in a testing facility with equipment and personnel capable of testing according to ANSI/RESNA standards. …