The Segway Personal Transporter has been lauded as a form of mobility for individuals with mobility limitations because, compared to conventional wheelchairs, it is faster, smaller, and more maneuverable. Moreover, this potential crossover technology may be deemed more socially acceptable and is supported on several of the blogs dedicated to discussing this new form of assistive technology (Gearability, 2010).
Two studies have investigated the effect of Segway Personal Transporter as an alternative source of wheeled mobility in a single sample of individuals consisting of sub-sample of individuals with a spinal cord injury. Sawatzky et al. (2007) completed a study that showed that participants with a mobility related disability, who could walk at least 6 meters with or without a mobility device aid, could successfully learn to safely operate a Segway Personal Transporter device with minimal training. The entire sample mastered operation in simple (e.g., straight/ forward, backward, static balance, turning left and right) and more complex tasks (e.g., figure eights on grass, ascending and descending hills, gravel surfaces). No issues with safety were reported. The participants expressed better self-presentation and better mobility when using the Segway but identified the cost and difficulty getting on and off as barriers. Sawatzky et al. (2009) found that participants were more satisfied performing self-identified community mobility participation goals using a Segway Personal Transporter than their own usual mobility devices. While the sample was, on average, faster using the Segway over a standardized course consisting of 8 different obstacles (e.g., rumble strip, carpet, door threshold, and 5 cm drop), this difference was not statistically significant.
There is level 4 evidence (from one post-test study; Sawatzky et al. 2007) that a series of short duration training sessions enables individuals with limited walking ability to safely operate a Segway Personal Transporter.
There is level 4 evidence from one post-test study; Sawatzky et al. 2009) that use of a Segway Personal Transporter does not decrease the time required to complete an obstacle course compared to other mobility devices.
Segway Personal Transporters may present an alternative form of mobility for individuals with SCI who are able to stand and walk short distances.