Wheelchair or Scooter Advice

  • Wheelchair or Scooter Advice

    Posted by gimom07 on March 19, 2024 at 9:51 pm

    Hi everyone. I am planning a trip to Japan for June 2025. I am trying to figure what brand of wheelchair to buy and bring with me. Either that or rent one there, if there are more benefits to that.
    By the way, I can walk a little bit and walk up and down steps if needed. My son and brother will be there to carry my wheelchair down steps if needed. I definitely need a lightweight one and I’ve seen several choices online.
    I really want to buy either a portable folding electric wheelchair or electric scooter, and I’m looking into ones that folds into the size of a carry-on suitcase or smaller.
    Questions:
    1. Will a portable scooter or electric wheelchair be okay on shinkansen or taxi?
    2. Could portable scooter or electric wheelchair be okay to enter small shops and restaurants? If not, could I park my wheelchair or scooter outside that restaurant/shop? I am thinking of using a bike lock for it.
    3. Are portable scooters allowed anywhere a wheelchair would be allowed?
    4. Are electric wheelchairs allowed anywhere a manual wheelchair would be allowed?
    5. Is there a brand of portable electric wheelchair or scooter you recommend? I am looking into the Air Hawk portable power chair or the EZ Lite cruiser portable power chair.
    5.5. Are there power wheelchairs that can be pushed if my hand gets too painful to operate the controls? I’m worried about that…I’ve never used one before.
    6. Is there a benefit of renting vs. bringing your own?
    7. I have heard with renting you get a disability certificate that will help you enter places you wouldn’t be able to enter without it. Is this true?
    8. If a disability certificate is necessary, how do I get one in the United States? I looked it up online and I didn’t understand.
    Thank you for anyone willing to read this. Even though it’s over a year away, this is giving me a lot of anxiety….if only I knew what I am going to to do it’ll help me feel better.

    gimom07 replied 3 months ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Kelvin13

    Member
    March 19, 2024 at 11:03 pm

    I would hire,

    I had a disaster last year, when I took my mobility scooter to Spain.

    It’s not a big scooter but would only fit in the 4 person lift on the diagonal, and with a lot of swearing as I manhandled it into position.

    I had to take an air safe (reduced capacity) lithium battery with me. It wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, it was totally feeble and wouldn’t go the hills near Bilbao where I was staying. I was fearful it would run out of juice and leave me stranded.

    Then my charger overheated and stopped working.

    At which point I hired one locally. It was more expensive than needed as I couldn’t shop around and compare prices in advance. The advantage of hiring locally is that if there is a problem, the hirer can sort it out and/or substitute.

    • gimom07

      Member
      March 20, 2024 at 12:31 am

      Thank you for your response. I guess I am just worried about the logistics of it and where to rent from. I will need wheelchair assistance at the airport, I can barely walk – I’ll need to look into it at both Narita and Osaka. I read to rent a wheelchair they deliver to the hotel. I know I need to reserve a wheelchair in advance but I’m not sure how, as the couple people I saw shared rental websites are purely in Japanese. Also, I need to rent the wheelchair in Narita, and return in Osaka. I don’t know if anyone does that…

  • schroth-sensei

    Member
    March 20, 2024 at 6:01 am

    Hello Gimom!

    I don’t know how much help I can give in choosing the right chair for you, your healthcare representative may be able to give you the best advice, but I can provide some information that may assist you.

    (1 & 3) It may be best to avoid the Mobility Scooter or Handle-type Wheelchairs. These scooters can be harder to maneuver in tight spaces, which is still seen as problematic by some train companies in Japan.

    Check out this post on Accessible Japan for more info: Mobility Scooters in Japan

    (2) The size of the chair probably wouldn’t matter much for accessing smaller stores as walkways/hallways may be too skinny anyway or accessible via steps. You can keep looking and you may find other nearby accessible options, but as you suggest it is possible to leave the chair out front if there’s room (no one will probably mess with it but locking it up won’t hurt).

    (4) A motorized wheelchair should be allowed in the same locations as a manual wheelchair, only an exceptionally heavy wheelchair may have concerns (which a collapsible wheelchair is not). As for Scooters, in the link mentioned above, this could have issues.

    (5 & 5.5) I haven’t personally used the wheelchairs you mentioned, I would recommend contacting a local medical equipment dealer or your healthcare representative and inquiring about a few things with them. Here’s a few things to consider:

    · When choosing a portable motorized wheelchair, you may find chairs with small assist motors don’t climb steep slopes well without assistance (i.e. without being manually pushed). This may not be a big concern if you are primarily in a big city like Tokyo.

    · Some models do have manual control options, you may want one with breaking controls accessible to the person manually pushing.

    · Battery mileage per charge, look for one that will meet your needs.

    · Make sure the charger is a 2-prong plug, otherwise it’ll require a converter.

    (6) Renting means you won’t need to pack a wheelchair or check it into the airport, only deal with your luggage until you get in Japan. Bringing your own, you can use it all the way up to boarding of the plane itself, and then get it back when you exit so it may be available to you almost always.

    Accessible Japan can suggest some rental companies. However, most have stopped renting scooters since they cannot be used at every station.

    Here is the rental form:

    https://www.accessible-japan.com/renting-wheelchairs-hoists-japan/

    (7 & 8) Only those with resident status in Japan can get an Official Government Disability ID, so if you are a foreigner on vacation in Japan you cannot get this. You may still be able to get disability related discounts without this, but don’t count on it. The US itself doesn’t have an official Disability ID, there are websites selling such things, but they are not legitimate documents (and may be considered illegal if used).

    I hope that helps,
    -Justin

  • gimom07

    Member
    March 20, 2024 at 10:41 am

    Hi Justin – thanks so much for taking the time to give such a detailed reply!!

    As far as which one to buy, I will do my homework about it. I am just trying to find one that will work in Japan – that is small and light enough, that is not much wider than an average person, and folds small enough to take on shinkansen and cabs.

    I was wondering about scooters, that does make sense, they would be harder – thank you! I will stick with a wheelchair, either electric or manual. If it is electric, an electric one that does have manual mode so that I can be pushed, like you said. That’s something I had been thinking about, too.

    May I ask what kind of wheelchair you used (or use) in Tokyo? Not that I’m going to run out and buy it, I am just curious. I am NOT asking medical advice, let me make that clear!!

    As for benefits of renting — Even if I don’t pack a wheelchair, I still need one. I can’t walk around the airport. Maybe 100-200 feet. That’s why my family are coming with me, 3 of them handle the luggage while 1 pushes me around (unless I get an electric). Then use a luggage forwarding service. Anyway, so for me there is no “just dealing with luggage.” Are there any other benefits to renting you can think of? I’ve read some people say that it’s best to rent. Someone here said something about a battery, which I need to read again and investigate.

    Thanks for sharing the link to the rental form!

    Thank you for clearing it up about the disability form. I read someone’s blog post talking about it, and I started panicking thinking that I needed it to be allowed anywhere. So it’s just a local thing, got it!! I am not trying to get any discounts. I just want to be able to get in reasonable places, not anywhere crazy like a basement restaurant or tiny little shops that can fit like 5 people or whatever, haha.

    I appreciate your reply so much, thank you!

  • schroth-sensei

    Member
    March 21, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    I don’t mind explaining what wheelchairs I used. My first couple trips I went with a simple manual wheelchair and a strong brother, it was a Sunrise Medical Quickie-line fitted to me but mostly stock (I typically used a motorized wheelchair at home, but at the time this was easier to manage for my brother). I visited Tokyo, Kamakura, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Kobe. Other than some hills in Kyoto and Nara, it wasn’t difficult for my caregiver to get me around, but it was a bit more stress on him. Recently though, 2023, I had a 90-Day stay in Yokohama and brought my Permobil Corpus F3 with many custom fitted parts, and it’s a big heavy motorized wheelchair and not a push-type. I explored all over Tokyo, Yokohama, and many surrounding areas (including way over to Lake Saiko near Mt. Fuji, Saiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba). So, I put quite a bit of mileage on it, and it was so much better than being stuck in manual.

    All my wheelchairs made it back okay, the worst that happened after the flight was a new scuff mark and a missing cap (that I didn’t realize until later would come off so easily), which is why you bring all removable pieces with you on board your plane.

    It sounds like a wheelchair can benefit you at home as well as on vacation, for that reason alone I would recommend talking with your healthcare rep or doctor (assuming you have one) and seeing about getting one via insurance. They may have many more choices available, and it could end up costing you less depending on your coverage. If you were to just use the wheelchair during your trip, then I would say renting may be ideal.

    I have listed some Travel planning advice in my Accessible Japan Blog post here that may help: Yokohama Life: What I Learned Living 90-days in Japan with a Disability

    We also have some preventative and helpful tips listed just in case here: Handling Wheelchair Breakdowns While Staying in Japan

    In regards to your comment about batteries, Voltage in Japan and Using Wheelchair Battery Chargers may have that information, otherwise about specific types of batteries on planes here is information from the FAA (healthcare reps. should be able to suggest a wheelchair that is safe to fly): https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/wheelchairs-mobility-devices

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