Elder Care Management, Life Care Plan, Medical Consultation

Alternatives For Transporting Powerchairs

 November 30, 2016

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

As advocates for individuals with special needs, our work doesn’t just begin when loved ones approach us. Well before those appointments are made, our daily social media intake alone is geared toward absorbing the most up-to-date solutions to our potential clients’ needs. For example, we have the utmost respect for innovators committed to making tomorrow a bit more manageable than yesterday for the physically challenged.

The electric-powered wheelchair, or powerchair, was invented not long after World War II. Yet, for most of the past 70 years, options for transporting these chairs have remained rather limited. If you’re imagining a van, you’re mostly correct. It’s called a wheelchair conversion van, to be precise. Their floors are lower than regular vans and are equipped with power ramps. Once the chair is inside the vehicle, it gets locked in place with tie-downs or a docking device.

What is a vehicle lift? 

The conversion van is still a viable option but it is a bit of a “take it or leave it” scenario. Certainly, we can do better for our handicapped friends and loved ones. Rather than be asked to fork over $45,000 for a bulky van, they can use a vehicle lift to load their chair into a wide range of vehicles, then transfer themselves to the driver’s or passenger’s seat. There are two types of vehicle lifts: boom lifts and platform lifts.

What is a boom lift? 

The boom lift takes up minimal space. You can use that space for storage in the absence of the powerchair. Essentially, the boom is a crane. Using a reinforced strap, the chair is simply lifted and placed in the vehicle. Station wagons, minivans, SUVS and even large sedans can utilize this type of lift. 

What is a platform lift? 

This type of lift is more like an elevator. Once the powerchair is secured on a ground-level platform, all it takes is the push of a button. An exterior platform lift will stop once the chair is sufficiently clear of the ground. It only moves up and down. An interior platform lift operates on two planes of motion, vertical and horizontal. Once it reaches a certain height, it then moves laterally and places the chair inside the vehicle.

Before you purchase a vehicle lift, be sure to:

  • Check your vehicle’s compatibility.
  • Decide which style you prefer: boom or platform.
  • Determine whether you want an exterior lift or interior lift (if platform)
  • Make sure that the power chair’s specifications match the lift’s weight capacity, dimensions, and style.
  • Confirm all of the above with a sales representative and discuss installation options.

In our blogs, we happily share information we find useful. Please remember that we are medical experts with vast experience advocating and building cases for individuals who are physically challenged. For more information on how we can assist you or a loved one, please contact us today.

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