Demand for Wheelchairs & Other Personal Mobility Devices to Exceed $3 Billion in 2010

CLEVELAND — U.S. demand for wheelchairs and other personal mobility devices is projected to increase 5 percent per year through 2010 to more than $3 billion. Demand for powered scooters is projected to increase more than 10 percent per year, making this segment second only to bariatric wheelchairs in terms of value growth. These and other trends are presented in "Wheelchairs & Other Personal Mobility Devices," a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

Demand for wheelchairs and related products will benefit from the continued aging of the U.S. population, which will foster gains in the size of the wheelchair-using population. Advances will be constrained by more restrictive Medicare reimbursement protocols, reduced reimbursement rates, and the introduction of competitive bidding in 2007. Further penetration of low-cost imports, especially for standard powered wheelchairs, will limit value gains. Products with the fastest growth will be those either tailored to niche markets or not typically reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid, including bariatric wheelchairs, sports (or ultralight) wheelchairs, and powered scooters.

Health care-related applications accounted for more than 60 percent of total personal mobility devices demand in 2005, with leisure and recreational activities comprising almost 30 percent. In the health care market, demand for personal mobility devices targeted at rehabilitative applications will grow the fastest, spurred by the high degree of technological innovation.

This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of HME Business.

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