Your Wheelchair and Mobility Scooter Resource
Monday, November 2nd, 2009 at 1:40 pm
As a result of the ADA and other legislation, many of the areas a wheelchair user wishes to go are made accessible. There are of course exceptions to the rule, but the overwhelming majority of businesses in the United States are wheelchair accessible. As a result, the most difficult part of using a wheelchair in public is generally getting it where you need it to be or transporting the wheelchair.
There are a number of different methods to transport a wheelchair, but often the most effective means is to use a vehicle wheelchair lift. Without a vehicle wheelchair lift, however, it is often still possible to transport a wheelchair.
Depending on the type of wheelchair, it is sometimes possible to simply store the wheelchair in the trunk of the vehicle or even in the back seat. This is easiest with manual wheelchairs, which are designed to be folded up when not in use.
Some electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are also designed to be transported easily without a wheelchair lift. These mobility vehicles are usually called travel wheelchairs or travel scooters and are made to be taken apart easily, with no one piece weighing too much for a person to safely lift into their trunk. One drawback to this type of electric power chair or scooter, however, is that in order to reduce weight, a number of features are removed that are in other standard electric wheelchairs.
Another option for transporting a wheelchair is to use a ramp system. There are a number of metal folding ramps available, which are designed to be used with the side door of a van. These allow the wheelchair to be driven directly into the van or to be operated by someone standing next to the wheelchair.
While it is possible to use a ramp with other types of vehicles, this option works best with vans that have had at least one row of seats removed.
Ramps offer a cost effective wheelchair transport solution, but do not work with all vehicles and unless someone is there to help position the ramp, they can be difficult to use.
Wheelchair lifts are more expensive than using a ramp, but are much easier to use independently. There are a number of wheelchair lift designs, but they can be broken down into interior wheelchair lifts and exterior wheelchair lift.
Interior wheelchair lifts are installed inside of the vehicle and store the wheelchair inside as well. There are a few different designs, but most either use a platform lift system or a crane lift system. The platform lift system allows the user to drive their wheelchair onto a small platform that extends from the vehicle. Then, once activated, the wheelchair lift will move the platform and wheelchair inside of the vehicle. You will often see this type of wheelchair lift in vans, but they can also be used in trucks and SUVs.
The other type of interior wheelchair lift is the crane lift, which is basically just a crane that attaches to the wheelchair and the raises it into the vehicle. Crane lifts can not be used with someone sitting on the wheelchair and it is sometimes necessary to partially disassemble the wheelchair before moving it into the vehicle.
One of the advantages of crane lifts is that they don’t take up much space, so they can be used in a car, where other wheelchair lifts would not work. A nice feature when shopping for a crane wheelchair lift is powered rotation, which means that the arm of the crane can be swiveled using a hand control. This makes it easier to swing the wheelchair into position.
Exterior wheelchair lifts, on the other hand, almost always use a platform lift system, except unlike interior wheelchair lift, the wheelchair is stored outside of the vehicle. Exterior wheelchair lifts attach to the hitch of a vehicle, which means that they are very easy to install, don’t require modification to the vehicle, and do not take up any interior space.