August 22, 2011

The Saginaw News - Medicare-funded Power Wheelchairs Create Headache for Amigo Mobility

Al Thieme, Amigo President & Founder
Recently, Amigo Mobility was featured in The Saginaw News article Medicare-funded power wheelchairs create headache for Amigo Mobility.

Reporter Kathryn Lynch-Morin wrote “A new study released by the Office of the Inspector General shows hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars are wasted each year on medically unnecessary power wheelchairs."

‘The Scooter Store sold the beneficiaries expensive power wheelchairs that they did not want, need, and/or could not use,’ The Department of Justice wrote in 2007.

According to Medicare coverage guidelines, motorized wheelchairs should be prescribed as a last resort and are best for people with severe disabilities, as they require only slight motions of the hand to maneuver and have seats locked in place.

Medicare guidelines say mobility scooters, or power-operated vehicles, should be considered before a power wheelchair is prescribed. They are best suited for people who have mobility limitations but require help in order to participate in activities of daily living.”

"When a person is offered a more expensive product for free, they feel like they have to take it," Al Thieme said. "But people who can use POV's (power-operated vehicles) shouldn't be getting power wheelchairs."

Jennifer Kehres of Amigo Mobility International, points to the records the company keeps of customers who’ve called Amigo looking for help after receiving power wheelchairs they didn’t want or couldn’t use:

• A 65-year-old woman who got an $8,000 power wheelchair paid for by Medicare said it couldn’t fit through her door.
• Another customer, an 85-year-old Flint woman, told Amigo a power wheelchair was delivered to her assisted living home even though she hadn’t had the chance to try one out. She said she couldn’t try another type of power wheelchair or power-operated vehicle because the type she had was what her doctor had ordered. The woman asked to see the prescription: It was from a doctor she hadn’t seen in two years.

“It’s heartbreaking when you hear how frustrated these customers are,” Jennifer Kehres said. “They’re stuck and often afraid of losing their coverage or having their chair taken away all together.”

Click here to read the complete article.

August 18, 2011

Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes - Beautiful & Accessible

picture from
ABC News' Good Morning America named the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan the Most Beautiful Place in America.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time on the West Coast of Michigan and always loved visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Not only is it a beautiful destination, but also accessible.

At the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, there is an accessible nature trail that is 0.9 miles round trip. Click here for a trail map and more information.

There are also sand wheelchairs available at the Maritime Museum boathouse and at the Dune Climb for people to be able to enjoy the dunes and beaches. 

I encourage you to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes! Let us know how your trip was and any accessible travel tips on our Facebook page.  

For more accessible travel tips, click here

August 11, 2011

Ron Bachman: Amigo Owner, Motivational Rock Star

Recently featured on WJBK Fox 2 News in Detroit, 20-year Amigo owner Ron Bachman proved himself to be a motivational rock star.

After his legs were amputated at the age of four, Ron grew up being bullied; but he turned his troubles into triumph with a mission to be the "happiest man you will ever meet."

"Why wouldn't I be happy? I have my arms," Ron says.

Proud dad and Plymouth, Mich. native, today Ron travels the country sharing his message of self-confidence, tolerance and anti-bullying at schools. For more information about Ron, or to donate to his non-profit, Walk This Way, visit

Watch this video about Ron, and I bet you will be inspired to "walk this way."

To read a past Friendly Wheels article about Ron, click here. To visit Ron's Facebook page, click here

August 5, 2011

Accessible Travel Tips from Twitter

Amigo owner Cynthia traveling
the world on her Amigo!
Many of our Amigo owners are avid travelers and I love sharing accessible travel tips that fellow travelers have learned along the way. Enjoy these tips below from my Twitter friends! Click here to read more about accessible travel. 

@PositiveAboutMS There are a lot of good accessible travel places, but our favorite is Trafford Centre in the UK.

@TravelinWheels We love Maui! Our favorite travel product is the GoFreeWheel!
@CareVacations Cruise passengers should make sure they have the right equipment for their ship and ports of calls.

@ilookgoodtoday1 I make sure that I either bring a shower chair or have one available. Also, Disney World is very accommodating as are their hotels.

@tourismforalluk When visiting attractions, check if they can provide concessions for a disabled person & companion, most places admit companions free of charge. Check if the accommodation has been assessed for accessibility, and obtain an access statement if available. More travel tips here.

@RSTrust We have always flown Virgin Atlantic. The cabin staff on every flight have been great, very helpful. Storing our wheelchair in the cabin, not in the hold (to make sure the chair is ready for us when we land). The ground staff at Heathrow have always been very good too. Ensuring we are first to board the plane, especially if you have to transfer on to a small cabin wheelchair.
Thank you Twitter friends for all of the great #AccessibleTravel tips! What is your top travel tip?

August 4, 2011

Mobility Scooter Travel Tips - Part 4 - Cruising

Today's post is the fourth in a five-part series on traveling with a mobility scooter.

Click here for tips on using an accessible travel agent and finding accessible lodging.
Click here for ground transportation travel tips.
Click here for air travel tips.



Having gained worldwide popularity, cruises are relaxing with non-stop activities and culinary delights to indulge in. Cruise ships function as floating hotels with nearly everything included in the price. All the work is done for you, which allows you to fully relax and enjoy yourself.

Special cruises are available for those with serious media conditions and who use assistance animals -- complete with a vet on board. Many cruise lines now offer accessibility information right on their websites. Before reserving space on a cruise ship, contact the cruise line with any additional questions you may have.

Keep these questions in mind to help determine the best cruise line for you.
  1. Are cabins fully mobility scooter accessible?
  2. Do cabins have low or no sills?
  3. Are all public restrooms handicap accessible?
  4. Will my mobility scooter fit on the ship's elevators?
  5. Will my mobility scooter fit through doorways on the ship?
  6. Are ramps available on the decks?
  7. May I travel alone?
Tomorrow we'll wrap up the series with a few mobility scooter travel tips from Amigo owner Shelley Peterman Schwarz.

August 3, 2011

Mobility Scooter Travel Tips - Part 3 - Air Travel

Today's post is the third in a five-part series on traveling with a mobility scooter. Click here for the first post on using an accessible travel agent and finding accessible lodging and click here for the second post on ground transportation travel tips.


Flying the blue skies will get you to your destination the quickest. Airline and airport personnel are fully equipped and trained to assist you as needed.
  • Review the airlines Contract of Carriage before booking your flight. Read the disability section carefully which informs of the airlines obligation to you upon purchasing a ticket.
  • Visit for plane seat maps. Use this website to determine the best seat to reserve before booking your flight.
  • Always try to get direct flights. If a transfer is necessary, it is easier for the airlines if you use their wheelchair and have your Amigo sent direct. Be sure to have your Amigo checked as "plane side" luggage so it will be delivered to you upon your arrival.
  • Inform the airline that you will need special assistance. When making reservations, make sure the service personnel know exactly what kind of assistance you will need. The more they know, the more they will be able to help you.
  • Airport accessibility. Call the airport ahead of time to determine which services are available to you.
  • Boarding. You may want to request a bulkhead seat, which allows more legroom, and may allow you to drive your Amigo directly to your seat. For easier transferring, request a seat with folding arms or removable armrests.
  • Transportation of batteries. Non-spillable, sealed batteries are approved for commercial airline travel by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). It is required that you take lithium batteries/battery-pack onboard as carry-on luggage. Amigo batteries are sealed lead acid or lithium-ion that are safe for airline travel. Acid batteries are not allowed on airplanes.
  • Special handling tags. If you travel frequently, it would be helpful to have a special handling tag that states special handling is required. Visit the support section of for a pre-designed tag. (Click here for a direct link.)

Navigating Airport Security
Security screening is required for all airline passengers. Your Amigo will be inspected first -- a mirror is often used to inspect underneath the platform -- followed by a series of questions regarding any recent maintenance (within the past 48 hours) of your Amigo. A TSA representative will then use a hand-wand and perform a security pat down. Upon passing the security screenings, drive through the metal detectors on your Amigo and you're on your way! If you are uncomfortable with these public screenings, feel free to request a private screening area.

We've discovered that everyone has a different experience when traveling by air these days! Do you have any helpful tips for airline travel? Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about cruising!

August 2, 2011

Mobility Scooter Travel Tips - Part 2 - Ground Transportation

Today's post is the second in a five-part series on traveling with a mobility scooter. Click here for the first post on using an accessible travel agent and finding accessible lodging.

Ground Transportation

Many people choose to travel by car, bus or train as the least expensive options. Destinations for a quick getaway, extended weekend or mini vacation are reached relatively quickly, leaving enough time to relax and have fun.

Use these tips to make your travels using ground transportation as hassle-free as possible.
  • If traveling by car, use a portable mobility scooter, such as the TravelMate™, for quick and easy rest-stop breaks. Pack meals and snacks to reduce the number of necessary stops.
  • If bus travel works best for you, contact the carrier as far in advance as possible to make arrangements. Many offer assistance with boarding, luggage and retrieving mobility scooters.
  • Train travel can be relaxing if you do your homework up front. Choose the carrier that best meets your needs and requirements. For overnight routes, request a private bedroom and confirm that your car has wide enough doorways and that switches are low enough on the wall for you to reach.
With just one official month of summer left, where are you heading for the last get-away of the summer?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on air travel!

August 1, 2011

Helpful Tips for Traveling with a Mobility Scooter - Part 1

It's travel week here on the Amigo Mobility blog! Each day this week we'll post helpful travel tips that will give you the insider's edge into traveling with a mobility scooter. Everything from finding accessible lodging to navigating airport security will be included in our daily posts. Enjoy the ride!


Today's post focuses on using qualified individuals to assist in making travel arrangements as well as booking a hotel room that is completely accessible for a mobility scooter.

Travel Agent
Using a qualified accessible travel agent can be most helpful in planning a trip where the unknown could become a major barrier to enjoying a vacation. Accessible travel author Candy Harrington offers these tips to help find the right travel agent for you.
  • Ask a friend who has recently used an accessible travel agent. They will know first-hand what they liked or didn't like about the agent they used.  
  • Confirm that they're a true accessible travel expert. If they claim to have a certification (such as Certified Accessible Travel Specialist) ask how many hours of training was required to receive it.
  • Do they travel themselves? What better way to know if a trip is truly accessible?  

Lodging is another important part of accessible travel. Use these tips to secure an accessible sleeping space for your get-away.
  • Use a hotel name you or others have had success with.
  • Read up on hotel access laws to know about design standards for different establishments (
  • If using an online resource to a book a hotel room, call to confirm accessible offerings before booking, even if the site offers information about the room. Inquire about doorway widths, furniture height and restroom accommodations. Request to see photos of the rooms.
  • Ron at The Disabled Traveler's Companion knows first-hand that a confirmation number does not guarantee the reservation of an accessible room. Call to confirm your accessible room reservation before arrival.
Check out this helpful video to give you an idea of accessible hotel room ammenities and how even the little details make such a big difference. (Click on the image to view the video.)

Do you have any tried and true tips for using an accessible travel agent or booking an accessible hotel room?

Check back for tomorrow's post on ground transportation travel tips!